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Jonathan Edwards
Born July 28, 1946 (1946-07-28) (age 63)
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Jonathan Edwards (born July 28, 1946, in Minneapolis, Minnesota) is an artist, musician, folk singer, songwriter and performer, perhaps best known for his crossover folk singles "Sunshine" and "Shanty".



Edwards's music career began in high school during the 1960s. When interviewed about his early music career he recalled, "I started on a $29 guitar and immediately started putting a band together, writing songs and learning all the contemporary folk songs of the time. I just loved it, loved everything about it, loved being in front of people playing music."

Edwards studied art in college at Ohio University but continued to play music. He decided to pursue his music career and dropped out of Ohio University before graduating. He sold the car that his father was lending him, bought a van for his band, and became involved in the Boston music scene.

The band soon found work, playing "6-40" jobs—six 40-minute sets per night—all over New England. With Joe Dolce on lead guitar, they played cover tunes as well as their own country blues originals under various names, including the Headstone Circus, St. James Doorknob, and the Finite Minds, and they made an album for Metromedia Records as Sugar Creek.

Soon he was booked to open for acts such as the Allman Brothers Band and B. B. King, and he signed with Capricorn Records. "We took about a year recording the first album--different times, different studios, different sounds, different techniques", he says. "Recording was so new in '69 and '70. There was a song on the album called 'Please Find Me', and for some reason the engineer rolled over it. It got erased. We spent hours looking for it. We fired the engineer and put 'Sunshine' in its place."

Like most of the songs on Jonathan Edwards, "Sunshine" was written shortly after Jonathan left the band. "I felt really fresh, really liberated," he recalls. "I just went out in the woods every day with my bottle of wine and guitar, sat by a lake near Boston and wrote down all those tunes, day after day.".

"Sunshine" was an energetic, happy-sounding statement of protest and independence. "It was just at the time of the Vietnam War and Nixon," Jonathan recalls. "It was looking bad out there. That song meant a lot to a lot of people during that time--especially me." It started on a Boston radio station, and before long it hit the top five on the national charts. It earned him a gold record in 1971.

After the first album, Jonathan moved out of the city to a farm in western Massachusetts, which provided the rural, country inspiration for his second album, Honky-Tonk Stardust Cowboy on the Atlantic Record label. This was an album of mostly self-penned acoustic, country-flavored songs about love and life and was closely followed by Have a Good Time For Me, also on Atlantic. This recording is a collection of songs written by Jonathan's friends, who, in those early years, were so important to his development as an artist, musician, singer, songwriter and performer.

But after more than three years of working five and six one-nighters a week, Jonathan was ready for a change. In 1973 he and his friends got together to record a live album for his fans called Lucky Day, which was a song he wrote in the truck on his way up to live in Nova Scotia. This "fresh-air break" lasted only a couple of months, when his old friend, Emmylou Harris, from the Washington, D. C. area, invited him to Los Angeles to sing backup on her Elite Hotel album. That led to a deal with Warner Brothers and two albums produced by Harris' husband/producer Brian Ahern—Rockin' Chair and Sailboat.

Jonathan moved back to the U. S. in 1979, to New Hampshire, and then two years later back to the northern Virginia area where he grew up. In 1983 he produced and recorded Blue Ridge with the bluegrass band, The Seldom Scene, for Sugar Hill Records. Then in 1987 he recorded a children's album, Little Hands, which was released on the small independent American Melody label. It has been selected by the National Library Association as a "Notable Children's Recording" and has sold well over 20,000 copies.

Jonathan was touring as the lead in the Broadway musical Pumpboys and Dinettes when he met an old friend from the folk circuit, Wendy Waldman, in Nashville. She and Mike Robertson convinced Jonathan to come to town and record a country album. "I've been making country-sounding records all my life, but never in Nashville. Yeah, let's do it." Edwards said. So, The Natural Thing was produced, recorded, and released on MCA/Curb Records in 1989. "I was crazy about the songs we selected from those great Nashville writers, and the acoustic-based production that Wendy and I put together was just a joy to make and to listen to. I count that as one of the best albums I've ever been involved with."

So from then until now, Jonathan has been busy with touring, session work, and producing his own music as well as the music of other talents, such as Cheryl Wheeler ("Driving Home," "Mrs. Pinocci's Guitar"). He took part in the 1994 "Back to the Future" tour that also included Don McLean, Tom Rush, Jesse Colin Young, Steve Forbert and Al Stewart. It played major venues coast to coast and earned Jonathan rave reviews. 1994 also marked the release of One Day Closer, his first solo album in five years, on his new nationally-distributed record label, Rising Records. Man in the Moon, which includes several original Edwards' songs, followed the end of '97. Other projects included the scoring of the soundtrack for "The Mouse", starring John Savage. In 1998 he discovered he was a major star in The Netherlands, where his audiences knew the words to all his songs, wouldn't let him leave the stage, and bought every CD in sight.

In 2000 he narrated and performed in a 13-week travel series for Media Artists entitled "Cruising America's Waterways" (, which was purchased by PBS-TV and is still being shown on PBS-TV stations from coast to coast. Media Artists also released a companion CD, appropriately titled Cruising Americas Waterways. Jonathan participated in a second 13-week "Cruising America's Waterways" series, which started running on PBS-TV stations in May, 2004. And listen for about 30 seconds of "Sunshine" in the 2004 Will Ferrell movie "Anchorman". The song is also included on the movie soundtrack.

Jonathan celebrated 30 years of "Sunshine" with a "First Annual Farewell Tour" with Kenny White on piano in 2001. He is still touring occasionally, but selectively. Jonathan currently lives in NYC.

A major motion picture, called "The Golden Boys," starring Bruce Dern, David Carradine, Charles Durning, Mariel Hemingway, Christy Scott Cashman and Rip Torn, will also include Jonathan as Reverend Perley. It is a romantic comedy set on Cape Cod in 1905. Jonathan has completed filming his role and composing music as well as scoring the film. "The Golden Boys" is slated for release in 2008.[1]



Official releases

Date of Official Release
Jonathan Edwards
Honky-Tonk Stardust Cowboy
Collectors' Choice
Have a Good Time for Me
Collectors' Choice
Lucky Day (live)
Wounded Bird
Rockin' Chair
Wounded Bird
Wounded Bird
Live! (live)
Wounded Bird
Blue Ridge (Jonathan Edwards & The Seldom Scene)
Sugar Hill
Little Hands
American Melody
Natural Thing
November 21, 1994
One Day Closer
Man on the Moon
May 1, 2001
Cruising America's Waterways (live)
Rollin' Along: Live in Holland
Strictly Country


Video Cover
Date of Official Release
Cruising America's Waterways (live)
PBS Series

Appears on


External links


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