'I go from flower to flower now': Sophie B. Hawkins talks about living life "as a bee" during the pandemic

Getting her big break while working as a coat check girl at a New York City restaurant, Sophie B. Hawkins has been singing heartfelt songs, noted for her eclectic stylings and soulful lyrics, for years.

With songs like ‘Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover,” “Right Beside You” and “As I Lay Me Down,” she has racked up hit records and a loyal fan base.

In the past year, she’s been forced to settle for online performances instead of live gigs but she has been busy raising two children, working on a musical play she calls a playsical, and working on a new album, “The Woman with the Sea Dog.”

She is looking forward to her first live show in a year, which will be Sunday, Feb. 21 at the Ridgefield Playhouse, where she will perform songs from her albums, including “Tongues & Tales” — which will have its 20th anniversary next year, and the upcoming playsical and her new album.

Hawkins recently chatted with Andrea Valluzzo about her coming show.

Andrea Valluzzo: So the pandemic brought you to Connecticut?

Sophie B. Hawkins: I really love it. I’ve been very creative here. We moved to Westport and didn’t know it was going to last. ... The whole world is constantly doing this new dance, and we are getting through it.

AV: What’s work been like in the last year?

SBH: When COVID hit, I was touring, actually having a great time touring ... And when I say touring, I mean little shows, because I have two kids and I am a single mother.

Then COVID hit, and I said I was going to focus more on the playsical I had been writing, so I started rewriting it.

I will say I have had less time overall to do my work because my children need so much attention, but I had more time to do different kinds of things because there is no time to do things the way I used to, in long stretches.

I started studying other people’s work at night, rewriting my playsical, and then I started to work on the book that everyone is telling me I need to write.

And if I had 20- minute stretches, I would practice guitar.

What I feel like is a bee now, and I go from flower to flower now, and I have a schedule I never would have dreamed of.

I get up at 6, I write, I take Esther through the motions of her school, then I get some time back, record a song I am working on, and then at night I get to start thinking about another project.

It’s like that. It’s really jumping from thing to thing and trying to concentrate as much as I can during the time that I have.

I almost feel spoiled that I had this life before where I had hours on end to concentrate on work when they were in school, and I realize that in itself was such a gift because most moms do art after their job.

AV: How is it doing online shows?

SBH: I’ve only done three or four, and they’ve been very difficult. I’ve done them literally from my living room. I see people have now become more professional with them.

My agent said you should be more like this band or that band. I looked at them and they are on an actual stage and have five cameras, and I have my computer camera on me at my piano. And that’s what my fans are getting; they are getting the real thing.

That’s all I can do right now, so I am really grateful for the Ridgefield gig because not only is it helping a theater stay open for artists to sell tickets, but it’s also helping me because I don’t have to do it from my living room.

And I get to be with people in a band.

AV: What’s the biggest difference between online and live shows?

SBH: You can do less on stage and it resonates. I felt like with the computer screen on me, I could not do less. I had to really fill up and make it as powerful as I could.

AV: As an independent artist, what is your biggest challenge in getting music out there?

SBH: There is an illusion that it is easier. It is actually much harder. And the demands of getting followers and self-promotion are more or the same as when you were on a record label, but with a record label you actually have the support.

Here, you are doing it all yourself. It really can actually be excruciating to get music out. You are on a constant treadmill of self-promotion, and I think it’s quite unartistic.

Sophie B. Hawkins will perform at the Ridgefield Playhouse on Feb. 21 at 4 and 7:30 p.m. For more information about the show, visit ridgefieldplayhouse.org .

Andrea Valluzzo is a freelancer writer.