Sufjan Stevens just released a song about Tonya Harding



  • Single artwork by Stephen Halker

Sufjan Stevens just released a song about Tonya Harding.


Detroit-born singer-songwriter, Sufjan Stevens released an unexpected tribute to a woman whom he considers “America’s sweetheart with a dark twist.”

Harding, of course, allegedly paid her ex-husband to club the right knee of fellow skater and competitor Nancy Kerrigan, the night before they were to compete in the US Women's Championships at Cobo Hall. Kerrigan, though only bruised, was not able to compete in the Championships. Harding took first place.

Harding pled guilty to hindering the prosecution following the attack on Kerrigan and was subsequently banned from the U.S. Figure Skating Association for life.

Though "Tonya Harding" is unrelated to the forthcoming biopic I, Tonya, Stevens admits in an essay accompanying the track, that his homage has been a long time coming.

"I’ve been trying to write a Tonya Harding song since I first saw her skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 1991," Stevens says. "She’s a complicated subject for a song partly because the hard facts of her life are so strange, disputable, heroic, unprecedented, and indelibly American. She was one of the greatest figure skaters of her time."

Paired with a color-pencil cover art portrait illustrated by Stephen Halker, the song is done in true Sufjan Stevens fashion in that it paints a tender landscape of an otherwise littered terrain, calling Harding's tale a "delightful disaster."

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.