Sheryl Crow has lent her name to many philanthropic organizations over the years, dealing with issues from the environment to music education. But one stands out for the singer. “I’ve been involved with cancer charities for a very long time, well before I was diagnosed,” Crow tells Rolling Stone. “When I was diagnosed that really made an impact on my life and changed me and the scope of my life in every way.”
For Crow, who is now serving as ambassador to St. Jude’s Children Hospital’s new Music Gives program, where artists give fans an opportunity to donate to the hospital through means such as song donations and concert tickets, St. Jude’s bridges two life-changing events – being a mom and having cancer. “Now I have kids, and when you visit a place like St. Jude’s and visit with these parents who feel completely helpless as to finding a cure for their kids when there is no cure, your heart just breaks,” she says. “When I think about my children being sick, particularly after visiting with families who have sick children, I can’t begin to fathom how one copes with that.”
So far Music Gives, created by Jason Thomas Gordon, grandson of Danny Thomas, has lined up artists like Stone Temple Pilots and Kings Of Leon. But Crow is going to be actively soliciting other acts. “I feel like I’m the rush chairman, how a sorority has the head of the rush committee, I feel like I’m out there basically rushing all these artists because we have an immense amount of fan power when it comes to our fan base.”
One artist she shouldn’t have much trouble lining up is tour partner Kid Rock, with whom she’s currently on the road, though she may have to get him out of his shell. “When we sing together there’s an undeniable chemistry and we both know it and we both enjoy it and there’s a safety there and there’s a lot of unpredictability and looseness,” she says.”Unfortunately he’s just a really boring person who hardly ever leaves his dressing room and he doesn’t go out at night, he’s just really a homebody, but I cut him slack,” she adds jokingly.
Once the tour wraps up in September, Crow is headed to Nashville to work on a country album. “I’m gonna make a record that hopefully will feel like an old, old country record. I’ve been threatening to make a country record for years, so I can’t say exactly what it’s gonna be like,” she says. “[But] it will definitely be a Sheryl Crow record, so I don’t think people should be too alarmed by there being a direction switch.”
Fans can get a sonic preview from some of her favorite country tunes. “I think ‘Stand By Your Man’ is one of the most important songs because it was the first time you really heard a woman take a stance. ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’ is one of the most beautiful country songs. ‘Walk The Line,’ those are three very good examples of direction for my next record.”