Since his recording debut in 1989, Osborne has written virtually all of his own material and contributed memorable songs to a wide variety of artists. Two tunes co-written by Osborne appear on blues great Keb Mo’s Grammy-winning 1999 release Slow Down. Country superstar Tim McGraw scored a #1 hit with Anders’ song “Watch The Wind Blow By.” Osborne’s compositions have been covered by artists as diverse as Brad Paisley, Tab Benoit, Jonny Lang and Kim Carnes. His song “What’s Going On Here” appeared in the 1996 feature film Fled, and Osborne, along with Ivan Neville, wrote and recorded the title track for the 2010 Kate Hudson film Earthbound. He can also be seen performing in a recent episode of HBO’s New Orleans-based drama, Treme.
Osborne was destined to live in New Orleans, and it’s no surprise he’s become one of the city’s favorite sons. His path home, however, was a long and winding one. He was born in Uddevalla, Sweden in 1966. His father was a professional touring jazz drummer who played all over Europe and was exposed to a lot of styles of popular American music. He brought home reel-to-reel recordings of jazz, R&B and early rock ‘n’ roll from artists as diverse as Little Richard, Fats Domino, Bill Haley, Art Pepper and Miles Davis. As a teen, Anders started playing guitar and listening to Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, and Joni Mitchell records. He fell in love with the vocal styles of Ray Charles, Van Morrison and Lowell George. Then he heard the blues of Robert Johnson and recordings of African drumming, and suddenly, everything clicked. “Blues connected everything together for me,” Osborne recalls. “The early rock, the R&B, the jazz, the singer-songwriters. Blues was like a thread running through everything.”
With a serious case of wanderlust, Anders began traveling on his own at 16. For the next four years, he hitchhiked across Europe, North Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, earning money by doing odd jobs and performing on the street or in bars at every opportunity. He worked assembly lines in Israel and dug ditches in Greece. He picked fruits and vegetables in many locales, following the harvest seasons across Europe. He wrote constantly, soaking up the life experience and honing his craft.
In 1985, after landing in New York with only $5.00 in his pocket, Osborne hitchhiked to New Orleans to meet up with a friend. “Once I got to New Orleans, everything I heard in my head — the music, the way people treated each other — was happening. I knew I was home.” He naturally absorbed the spirit of the Crescent City into his soul, as he was fully embraced by the city’s vibrant music community. Shortly after moving there, he found out that his grandfather, a sailor, had lived in New Orleans for many years. His grandfather then began telling him vivid stories of the city, and sharing old photographs. “I just felt connected to his memories,” Osborne says, “and I knew I was where I was supposed to be.”
Anders spent his first few years in New Orleans writing and developing his sound and style, all the while continuing to soak up the music of the city. He cut his first two albums for the independent New Orleans-based Rabadash Records in 1989 and 1993. The excitement surrounding those releases led to a major label deal with Sony’s Okeh imprint in 1995. Osborne released a series of successful albums for Shanachie and MC Records, all to wide critical and popular acclaim, before joining forces with Alligator Records.
With the 2010 release of American Patchwork, Osborne’s fame suddenly reached a whole new level. Critics went wild, with OffBeat saying, “American Patchwork is the album Osborne fans have been waiting for. The record is a focused and tuneful triumph. Osborne’s gifts as a guitar player are significant. His voice is so emotionally intense it feels like an explosion. He writes with remarkable eloquence…this is the living definition of great art.”
In the studio and in concert, Anders Osborne channels the music throughout his entire body, becoming a whirling dervish of pure energy. Blurt says, “This is modern music at its transcendent best.” Paste adds, “He is wildly diverse, thoughtful and raw.” With Black Eye Galaxy, Osborne’s star has exploded into the universe, fully formed and spinning freely in its own unique direction.