Starting out singing in clubs as a teenager, singer, songwriter and musician Vonda Shepard worked as a session musician and background singer for a number of artists, including Jackson Browne, Rickie Lee Jones and Paul McCartney, before making her recording debut in 1987 with “Can't We Try,” a duet sung with Dan Hill. The song marked her first top 10 hit. Her debut album, “Vonda Shepard,” followed in 1989 but was a flop. After the equally disappointing second album, “The Radical Light” (1992), Shepard enjoyed strong critical praise with the self-financed “It's Good, Eve” (1996). However, she did not achieve real victory until she landed a regular gig on the David E. Kelley created show “Ally McBeal” (1997-2002), where she also worked in the music department. She was handed two ASCAP Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her work on the series. The soundtrack “Songs from Ally McBeal” was released in 1998 and became a hit in the U.S., the U.K., Spain, Poland and Australia. She also recorded the sequel soundtrack “Heart And Soul: New Songs From Ally McBeal” (1999) and the compilation soundtracks “Ally McBeal: A Very Ally Christmas” (2000) and “Ally McBeal: For Once in My Life Soundtrack” (2001).
Since her success with “Ally McBeal,” Shepard has released the albums “By 7:30” (1999), “Chinatown” (2002), “From the Sun” (2008) and “Live: A Retrospective” (2005). In 2009, she released “The Best of Ally McBeal - The Songs of Vonda Shepard.”
On the personal front, Shepard is married to music producer Mitchell Froom. They have one son together.
Childhood and Family:
The daughter of Richmond Shepard, a writer, director, producer and mime, and Hadria, a former fashion model, Vonda Shepard was born on July 7, 1963, in New York City, New York. She has three sisters named Armina, Luana and Rosetta (now Brianna). Early in her childhood, the Shepard family moved to California where her father founded theaters in Los Angeles. When she was 10, Vonda’s mother left the family and her father raised the four girls by himself. She attended Birmingham High School in L.A.
Vonda demonstrated musical talent from an early age. She began learning the piano as a young girl and has practiced 6 to 8 hours a day since age 7. She began performing in Los Angeles clubs as a teenager. In her early 20s, however, she trained as an actress for four years but returned to music after realizing that was her true calling.
In 2004, Vonda married musician and record producer Mitchell Froom (born in June 29, 1953). The couple welcomed their first child, son Jack Froom, on April 15, 2006. Froom also has two daughters from previous relationships. His daughters are Ruby (born on July 8, 1994; mothered by singer/songwriter Suzanna Vega) and Charlotte (born in 1986).
Can't We Try
Vonda Shepard began singing in clubs at age 14 but did not pursue music professionally until age 16. As a struggling musician, she frequently served as an opening act for the Los Angeles ban Venice. Entering her 20s, Shepard considered a career switch and enrolled in an acting program. After studying for four years, she returned to music.
Shepard landed work as a keyboardist and backup vocalist for singers Paul McCartney, Jackson Browne, Rickie Lee Jones, Julia Fordham and Al Jarreau, to name a few. In 1987, she received her first recording experience when she sang a duet with Dan Hill. The song “Can't We Try” rose to No. 6 on the pop chart and No. 2 on the Billboard's Hot Adult Contemporary chart. She signed to Reprise records and released the debut album “Vonda Shepard” in 1989. It produced one chart single with “Don't Cry Ilene,” which peaked at No. 17 on the Hot Adult Contemporary chart in 1990. The song remained on the charts for 12 weeks.
Shepard released the album “The Radical Light” in 1992. Like its predecessor, the album met with little success and she was subsequently released from Reprise. In 1996, she launched the third album “It's Good, Eve,” for which she loaned about $100,000 to produce it. Her efforts paid off when the album gained her solid critical acclaim thanks to tracks such as “Long Term Boyfriend” and “Like a Hemisphere.”
Shepard left Los Angeles and moved to New York shortly after the release of her third album. It was there that she was discovered by David E. Kelley, who along with his actress wife Michelle Pfeiffer, became a fan of hers. She was soon signed up to sing in Kelley's new show “Ally McBeal” (1997-2002). The series was a success and Shepard was too. Originally credited as a recurring star during the first season, she upgraded to regular status the following season where she played a resident performer at the bar where characters of the show drank after work. She also nabbed three Screen Actors Guild nominations for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series and won one in 1999. In addition, she won two ASCAP Awards for Top TV Series. Shepard also served in the music department.
On May 5, 1998, Shepard released “Songs from Ally McBeal,” a soundtrack for “Ally McBeal.” The album charted at No. 3 in the U.K. and was also a hit in the U.S., Canada and other European countries. It went to No. 1 in Australia in October 1998 and Spain in the summer of 1999. After the album's success in Spain, she performed in Madrid and Barcelona. The album consisted of the theme tune “Searchin' My Soul” (co-written by Shepard and Paul Gordon), which peaked at No1. in Spain and No. 22 on the Adult Contemporary chart, the self written “Maryland” and covers of songs like “Hooked on a Feeling” (#7 Spain), “You Belong to Me,” “End of the World,” “Tell Him” (#29 Spain) and “It's in His Kiss,” among others.
After releasing a fifth studio album called “By 7:30” in 1999, which charted at No. 39 in the U.K., Shepard recorded “Heart and Soul: New Songs from Ally McBeal,” another soundtrack for the series “Ally McBeal.” The album made the top 10 on the U.K. Albums chart (#9). Some singles spawned from the album included “Read Your Mind,” “Baby Don't You Break My Heart Slow,” a duet sung with Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls (#21 on the US Adult Contemporary chart), “This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You),” “Someday We'll Be Together” and “Confetti.” To promote the album, she toured America, Europe and Australia.
In the new millennium, Shepard recorded the soundtracks “Ally McBeal: A Very Ally Christmas” (2000) and “Ally McBeal: For Once in My Life Soundtrack” (2001). In 2002, she resurfaced with a new studio album titled “Chinatown,” which was released under Jacket Records in the U.S. and Edel Music in the U.K. It was followed by “Live: A Retrospective” (2005) and “From the Sun” (2008), her debut with independent music company Redeye Distribution.
Five years after “Ally McBeal” left the airwaves, Shepard released the compilation soundtrack album “The Best of Ally McBeal - The Songs of Vonda Shepard” on October 6, 2009. She returned to series TV on “State of the Union,” a series created by and starring Tracey Ullman. She appeared in two episodes (2009, 2010).
ASCAP Film and Television Music: ASCAP Award, Top TV Series, “Ally McBeal,” 2000
ASCAP Film and Television Music: ASCAP Award, Top TV Series, “Ally McBeal,” 1999
Screen Actors Guild: Actor, Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, “Ally McBeal,” 1999