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Sophie B. Hawkins

Zoofest, Saturday, May 15, at the Kansas City Zoo.

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Dido wasn't the first white girl to do the singer-songwriter thing with light electronica and pseudo hip-hop beats. Sophie B. Hawkins probably wasn't the first, either, when "Damn I Wish Your Lover" went top-five in 1992, but at least she didn't rely on a cracker rapper like Eminem to get her there. (Third Bass was probably busy at the time.) "As I Lay Me Down" was another top-fiver in 1995, before Hawkins' major-label deal was dropped (over, of all things, a skirmish concerning a banjo part on "Lose Your Way," from 1999's Timbre). Now Hawkins has re-emerged with her own label (Trumpet Swan) and the freedom to employ whatever odd instrumentation and exotic percussion she desires on her latest album, Wilderness -- a title that leaves little wonder why everybody's favorite "omnisexual" (her word) is playing the zoo.

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