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Nanci Griffith

Straddling the fine line between folk and country music, Nanci Griffith has become as well-known for her brilliant, confessional songwriting as her beautiful voice. A self-styled "folkabilly" singer, Griffith began as a kindergarten teacher and occasional folksinger. The country scene took her to heart in the mid-'80s, giving her a reputation as a quality songwriter through hit covers of Griffith's songs by Kathy Mattea and Suzy Bogguss. Finding no luck with commercial country radio however, Griffith recorded several pop-oriented albums and then returned to her folk roots by the mid-'90s.

Griffith was the daughter of musical parents, and she spent her childhood involved with theater and literature as well as music. She began playing clubs around Austin at the tender age of 14 and continued to perform during her college years at the University of Texas, as well as during her stint as a kindergarten teacher in the mid-'70s. Griffith finally decided to make music her full-time ambition in 1977. Her songwriting won an award at the Kerrville Folk Festival, prompting the local label BF Deal to record Griffith for a compilation; they also issued her debut album, There's a Light Beyond These Woods (1978). Griffith's hectic touring schedule took her all over North America, where she played festivals and TV shows in addition to the small clubs that had launched her career. Meanwhile, she recorded albums in 1982 (Poet in My Window) and 1985 (Once in a Very Blue Moon).

In 1986, Griffith finally got her big break after moving to Nashville, and a flurry of activity followed. The title song from Once in a Very Blue Moon fared modestly on the country charts, Last of the True Believers was released on the Philo label (which later reissued her first three albums as well) to noticeable acclaim, and -- most importantly -- Mattea's cover of "Love at the Five & Dime" reached number three on the country charts. Though Last of the True Believers was nominated for a Grammy Award as Best Contemporary Folk Recording, commercial country radio still found it difficult to accept Griffith.

Griffith signed with MCA and released her major-label debut, Lone Star State of Mind, in 1987. With it, she popularized the Julie Gold song "From a Distance" -- later covered by Bette Midler -- and scored her first country Top 40 hit with the album's title track. Two additional singles, "Trouble in the Fields" and "Cold Hearts/Closed Minds," also grazed the country charts. Little Love Affairs and the live album One Fair Summer Evening (both released in 1988) were slight disappointments, though "I Knew Love" became Griffith's second country Top 40 hit.

Disappointed by a lack of support from the country music scene, Griffith moved from Nashville to MCA's "pop" division in Los Angeles, where she partnered with noted rock producer Glyn Johns for 1989's Storms. The album included guest stars Phil Everly, Albert Lee, and former Eagle Bernie Leadon. Moreover, it became her best-selling work to date, though it featured no successful singles. A move from rock music to pop characterized 1991's Late Night Grande Hotel, whose transitional sound was aided by producers Rod Argent and Peter Van Hook. By this point, it had become clear that Griffith's move away from Nashville was also compromising her folk and country roots.

A move to Elektra in 1992 marked a return to form for Griffith, whose 1993 LP Other Voices, Other Rooms was a tribute to her influences (several of whom -- including Emmylou Harris, Chet Atkins, and John Prine -- made appearances). A compilation of her best work from the MCA years also appeared in 1993. The following year, Griffith's tenth studio album, Flyer, continued her dedication to folk. In March of 1997, Griffith released Blue Roses from the Moons; Other Voices, Too (A Trip Back to Bountiful) followed a year later, trailed in 1999 by Dust Bowl Symphony.

Griffith traveled the world over the next few years, flying to Cambodia and Vietnam in 2000 in order to retrace the steps of her ex-husband, Vietnam War vet Eric Taylor, and visited Angola and Kosovo the following year. After four years of travel and activist work for organizations like the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, Griffith released a new full-length, Clock Without Hands. A live album, Winter Marquee, followed in 2002, along with a dual-disc retrospective piece, The Complete MCA Studio Recordings. The following year was a landmark for Griffith, as she performed at the Grand Ole Opry for the very first time in 2003. With thoughts of war weighing heavy on her mind, however, she returned to the recording studio shortly thereafter to create Hearts in Mind, which was released the following year. Ruby's Torch, a collection of sentimental torch songs penned by the likes of Tom Waits, arrived in 2006. While only two of Griffith's own songs appeared on the album, she wrote the bulk of the material for her follow-up effort, 2009's The Loving Kind. Griffith cut 2012's Intersection at her home studio in Nashville. ~ John Bush, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Flyer: Going Back To Georgia With Adam Duritz. From The Counting Crows Blows me Away. I Love Both of Them.
boogiespeed
I love you Nanci
Nanci is one of the great American singer/songw r i t e r s her "Other Voices" recordings are favorites of mine. Her song "Trouble in the Fields" is one of the greats, very moving and a great tribute to a generation that is gone, but not forgotten, also the sentiments are very true to many today.
One of my Beloved physics students introduced me to Nanci in the late '80s, then another memorable and loved student invited my wife and I to her "Flyer" promo tour in the mid 90s. Having seen her in concert twice, she is magical, inspiring, and with complete artistic integrity tells the stories of the heart, working the fields, as well as the pains and joys of life from the perspective of her west Texas roots and growing up in Austin. Blue bonnets, the dust bowl, a "Meadowlark" like Mormon mom,
if she did no more than growl congress avenue i'd still love her!
play very blue moon !!!!!!!!!!
I just recently discovered her on Pandora.
Discovered her at a very small venue in a church basement in the mid 80's. Knew she was something very special! Love, and own, all her music!!
love her!
stripers5
Saw her at Smith a lot in the mid-to late '80's and loved every album that came out around that time. Things are different In the Valley these days...She was always terrific.
I have spent lots of hours listening to her sing. I once saw her in person.
coolmusiczon e _ 3 3
Awesome artist
nanci with john prine need i say more........ .
bcase785
She is hot, I wonder if she would like to make out with me
She is simply the best.
griffinu24
Nanci's music warms my soul. An true American icon!
Interesting comment below about Nanci and John Prine, I too like this pair. I am still regretting missing a concert with both of them in KC in the mid 90's. But I did see her in Lyons CO folk fest in 2000. A night to remember. Always a place in my heart for her.
I too have loved her music since about '81. Emmajoe's was THE place. Regarding her choice of covers: TVZ rules . . .
rhynermarge2 5
I have loved Nanci's music since I heard her in the 80's. She touches my heart.
Nanci is a brilliant artist.
My brothers and I grew up listening to Nanci Griffith and John Prine almost exclusively, we still love them.
sargent7472
A great folk and country singer, Also a beautiful song writer
Wow Nanci. I'm only sorry I come so late to experience your gift and talent; and your good looks.
gaylon08
Dam Good Stuff love it.
I like the Ford Econoline and the Five & Dime songs
Simply the best!
boogiespeed
I love you Nanci
Pure gold. Nancy is an original with an old soul and a voice like an angel. sounds like Iris Dement...tak e off you ear muffs! haha
Sounds like Iris Dement! 100x more like Iris than the Similar Artists
(or Iris sounds like Nancy)
http://www.p a n d o r a . c o m / m u s i c / a r t i s t / i r i s + d e m e n t
i.sink
i love her voice.She sinngs the best music....
Traditional folk music with a beautiful voice. (I've seen her live) PGalli
"When I Dream" by this God given talented lady has to be one of her very best,better than Ann Murray I think or at least for me..I have never heard that song sung any better,plus Nancy is our Daughters first name..Nancy Griffith is great singer..Than k s Pandora
greg1741
Nothing but brilliant. See her in concert where she really shines.
Nanci has such a beautiful voice. Nobody sings 'From a Distance' better. She's fun in concert too.
kmccoin0
One of my most favorite albumns is Flyer. I've played it so much I have worn out 3 CDs. I've been listening to it since I bought it 15 years ago. It never gets old!
Astonishing! No one better.
mwaldstein
a lovely songwriter but her voice is often too affected
charta0
In my mind, Nanci has always been a terrific songwriter describing the coming of age and aging and the relationship s were are in through various phases of adult life. Her observations are poignant and rich. And then there is the voice: a very clear distinctive voice that bring one from tears to joy throughout her song catalog.
t_heath
Absolutely beautiful voice....
Nanci is back with a new album. She survived the Bush years and the new album signals the return of her muse. I missed her.
doesn't the male vocalist sound like a robust Arlo Guthrie?
neon3502
Awesome voice and vision-
Nanci has played a major role in my life. Her music has helped me through difficult times such as grad school, new born babies, and having a special needs child. She has also been with me during happy times. She sings my heart and I love her for that
From a Distance.... . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Love the music
Like bluehawk, I also attended that show in Lakewood.Nan c i has a way of making me comfortable even during hard times.I first heard her in the early 90s and have followed her ever since.Lookin g forward to seeing her again!
I love Nanci, She is My number 1 female singer/songw r i t e r . She also has that special knack for selecting great songs that others have written for her own recordings. Although I fell in Love with her in the mid 1980s, I did'nt get to see her "LIVE" untill 2001. It was in Lakewood,Ohi o on September 10th. That was one fair summer evening for certain. Unfortianatl y the glow from that show which I was sure would last for days and days was shortlived because of the events of 9-11 the very next morning
Nanci has inspired me and my songwriting. She wrote about places I have been to and traveled on. She holds a special place in my heart. TA
jeffg5
First saw Nanci at MusikFest in Bethlehem, Pa. in the mid 80's when she opened for a country singer and stole the show. Once again she was in Bethlehem at Godfrey Daniels...a tiny folk, Americana coffeee club. She was one of the first to go on my Pandora list. Her duet with John Prine is a favorite.
Nanci Griffith is pretty much badass. My dad had a few of her records that we would listen to in the car during long trips when I was younger (like 10 or 11.) Songs like "Trouble in these Fields" and "Hard Life" made me search for more of her stuff, and now "There's a Light Beyond these Woods" is one of my FAVORITE albums of all time! I'm not sure how the same person made that album, made Hearts In Mind. What was she thinking???? But still, Nanci Griffith is dang fine.
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