Successful and in control, Sheryl Crow had won nine Grammys, sold more than 30 million records and was about to marry Tour de France legend Lance Armstrong when it all fell apart. The engagement was broken off — neither will say by whom — in early 2006, and two weeks later, Crow, now 46, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her health crisis forced her to “let go of the pain of the breakup” and take care of herself.
For 20 years, Crow had ridden a high-speed train. Raised in a small Missouri town by a father who played trumpet and a mother who taught piano, she quit her job as a grade school music teacher when she was 24 and headed to Los Angeles. Writing and performing her very personal, often politically charged songs, she dated stars like Eric Clapton and Owen Wilson and was engaged three times but never married. She spoke out against the Iraq war and global warming, even sparring with Karl Rove, the President’s advisor, at last year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
After her cancer diagnosis, she underwent a lumpectomy and radiation, took stock and started making changes. She applied to adopt a child, moved to Nashville to be close to her family and in April 2007 welcomed son Wyatt, now 11 months.
With a new CD, Detours, just released, Crow sat down with Reader’s Digest at Lillie Belle’s tearoom, on the outskirts of Nashville, and spoke about motherhood, music and her commitment to change the world.
RD: One of the most personal songs on your new album is “Lullaby for Wyatt.” Do you find it overwhelming to be suddenly caring for a baby?
Crow: Not at all. In my last relationship [with Armstrong], I had three stepkids. And I was a teacher for two years, so it came very easily.
RD: As they approach middle age, some women panic about whether they’ll have children. Did you feel that?
Crow: Not really. My objective wasn’t to bring another kid in, but to love a child and share in the kind of family environment I grew up in.