Sheryl Crow plays guitar in the studio. Photo courtesy of Showtime
LOS ANGELES, May 6 (UPI) -- Sheryl Crow said she agreed to let director Amy Scott make the Showtime documentary Sheryl, premiering Friday, to inspire young girls with her story of how someone can grow up in a small town and become a successful rock star.
"Hopefully, they'll watch this and go, 'It's possible,'" Crow said on a recent Television Critics Association panel.
Crow, 60, said she has long resisted offers to make documentaries or write a book.
"I've always felt like documentaries were told after someone has already gone on after a fiery plane crash," Crow said. "I just didn't feel like it was time for me or for my story to be told."
Crow said her manager of 30 years convinced her that fans would relate to her struggles, and that her career encompassed decades of a changing music business. Crow chose Scott for the project because she was a fan of her Hal Ashby documentary, Hal.
"There were some experiences that obviously are not just my own experience in this business," Crow said. "I'm a woman. I've seen a lot of things change. I've also seen a lot of things not change very much at all."
Crow grew up in Kennett, Mo. Crow said music helped her cope with depression growing up.
"Just being able to go sit at the piano and find the intervals and the chords helped me express how sad I felt," Crow said. "That's still where I go. It's that thing that changes the molecules that gives me a way out."
While teaching music in St. Louis, Crow got work recording jingles. She crashed an audition she heard other singers discussing and ended up on tour as a backup singer with Michael Jackson.
"I came away from that tour feeling like I had experienced something that not very many people would ever have the chance to experience," Crow said. "My relationship with him was very much about work for really the better part of the entire tour."
Crow released her album Tuesday Night Music Club with singles "Strong Enough," "All I Wanna Do" and "Leaving Las Vegas" in 1993. She won Grammys for Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
"My brother was the one that said, 'You should put out 'All I Wanna Do.' My friends and I think that's the best song on the record," Crow said. "That had really kind of been a throwaway song to me in my mind."
Crow toured for 2 1/2 years with Tuesday Night Music Club. By the time she was recording her second album, the 1996 Sheryl Crow, the singer said she felt the press turned on her.
"I had been the cool kid that people had discovered and it was word of mouth," Crow said. "People get oversaturated with someone, and then they pick them apart."
The success of Tuesday Night Music Club, selling 9 million copies, also put pressure on Crow for the follow-up, she said. The second album did warrant hit singles like "A Change Would Do You Good" and "Everyday Is a Winding Road."
"I definitely think that first record was really hard to let go of," Crow said. "I think it demanded or it dictated that I create a shell around myself. It took a long time for me to finally break out of that shell and be myself again."
Looking back at her triple Grammy wins, Crow realized she didn't allow herself to celebrate or feel worthy of acclaim. Crow said she got right back on tour the next day and approached the tour as work.
"I don't know if it's the combination of Puritan work ethic or denial that didn't let me own it, didn't let me celebrate it, didn't let me feel the part that says, 'You deserve it,'" Crow said. "It really was not until I had breast cancer that I had to meet myself and sit and hold everything that I had thought made me who I was."
The documentary addresses Crow's cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as her public relationship and breakup with Lance Armstrong. Crow said after 30 years in the music industry, she now adds ageism to the list of trials of releasing new music.
"To know that it simply would not get played because of my age before it's ever even heard is demoralizing," Crow said. "I also feel like I have more things to write about now than ever. I feel liberated in my art because I'm not thinking about how to compete with the youngsters."
Crow said young listeners continue to discover her music. Her song "Real Gone" was featured in the Pixar movie Cars, and Crow said she is pleased to be in rotation on classic rock stations.
"I do find that I get played a lot at Whole Foods or Home Depot," Crow said. "I'm great shopping music."
After 30 years on tour, Crow said she never tires of singing her oldest songs. Having survived cancer, Crow said she recognizes those songs are what got her through all of her hardships.
"I play them with total gratitude," Crow said. "It's not an everyday thing to have a song hit on the radio and become the soundtrack to people's lives."
Sheryl also highlights the collaborators and supporters behind the scenes who have remained with Crow through her career, she said.
"We started out as young, ignorant, high-on-life kids," Crow said. "We've come out of it kind of like these wise, old, sitting on the rocking chair, front porch, talking about the young people."
Sheryl premieres Friday at 9 p.m. EDT on Showtime and streams on Showtime Anytime.