Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Duncan Sheik

Duncan Sheik, who scored one ubiquitous hit in 1997, the top 20 "Barely Breathing"—along with random No. 1 dance hit "On A High" in 2003—turns 41 today.

The singer/songwriter had a hand-wringing pop music career in the mid-1990s. While "Breathing" remained on the singles chart for a record-breaking 55 weeks, reached No. 2 on the adult top 40 and AC charts and garnered a Grammy nomination, Atlantic Records was unable to parlay his hit into follow-up success.

The first time I met the handsome fellow was at an industry party in New York's Bowery where he noted his frustration that radio wouldn't let go of "Barely Breathing" and move forward to second single "She Runs Away."

I also used to see Duncan at a brunch destination in NYC's Tribeca nabe, when we both lived there in the late 1990s. He likes coffee. Yes, he does.

Sheik's career was ultimately redeemed when he wrote the music for the Broadway musical "Spring Awakening," which earned him two Tony Awards for Best Orchestration and Best Original Score (Music), while the show won the Tony for Best Musical. On top of that, the original cast album garnered a Grammy Award in 2008 for Best Musical Show Album.

I interviewed him for a feature in Billboard about his road to Broadway. You can read the full article here or here (search down the page for "Duncan Sheik").

I also reviewed Sheik's single "White Limousine" in January 2006, writing, "Heady singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik was never really a mainstream radio artist. His mid-1990s smash 'Barely Breathing' was more or less an anomaly that gave him enough star power to explore more ethereal pursuits." Given what came a year later, looks like I nailed that one.