Nanci Griffith

Last updated

Nanci Griffith
Nancicarolinegriffith.jpg
Griffith in 2004
Background information
Birth nameNanci Caroline Griffith
Born(1953-07-06)July 6, 1953
Seguin, Texas, U.S.
DiedAugust 13, 2021(2021-08-13) (aged 68)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Genres Folk, Country Folk, Americana
InstrumentsVocals, acoustic guitar
Years active1977–2013
Labels B.F. Deal, Featherbed, Philo, MCA, Elektra, Rounder, New Door
Associated actsThe Blue Moon Orchestra
The Crickets
Darius Rucker
The Kennedys
James McMurtry
Website nancigriffith.com

Nanci Caroline Griffith (July 6, 1953 – August 13, 2021) was an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter, [1] raised in Austin, Texas, who lived in Nashville, Tennessee. Griffith appeared many times on the PBS music program Austin City Limits starting in 1985 (season 10). In 1994 she won a Grammy Award for the album Other Voices, Other Rooms. [2]

Contents

Griffith toured with various other artists, including Buddy Holly's band, The Crickets; John Prine; Iris DeMent; Suzy Bogguss; and Judy Collins. Griffith recorded duets with many artists, among them Emmylou Harris, Mary Black, John Prine, Don McLean, Jimmy Buffett, Dolores Keane, Willie Nelson, Adam Duritz (singer of Counting Crows), The Chieftains, John Stewart; and Darius Rucker (lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish). Griffith had a backing band which she referred to as "The Blue Moon Orchestra".

Early life and career

Nanci Griffith, the youngest of three siblings, was born in Seguin, Texas, but raised in Austin, the place her family moved to shortly after her birth. [3] [4] Nanci's mother Ruelene was a real estate agent and amateur actress, her father, Marlin Griffith, was a graphic artist and barbershop quartet singer. [5] [6] Nanci Griffith began her career as a singer performing in a local coffeehouse, aged 12. [5] Her father took her to see Townes Van Zandt as a teenager. Nanci's debut album, There’s a Light Beyond These Woods, was released in 1978, with a cover designed by her father.

Her career spanned a variety of musical genres, predominantly country, folk, and what she termed "folkabilly." [1] Griffith won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1994 for her 1993 recording, Other Voices, Other Rooms. [7] This album features Griffith covering the songs of artists who were her major influences. One of her better-known songs is "From a Distance," which was written and composed by Julie Gold, although Bette Midler's version achieved greater commercial success.[ citation needed ] Similarly, other artists have occasionally achieved greater success than Griffith herself with songs that she wrote or co-wrote. For example, Kathy Mattea had a country music top five hit with a 1986 cover of Griffith's "Love at the Five and Dime" [8] [ citation needed ] and Suzy Bogguss had one of her largest hits with Griffith's and Tom Russell's "Outbound Plane". [8] [ citation needed ]

In 1994, Griffith teamed up with Jimmy Webb to contribute the song "If These Old Walls Could Speak" to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Country produced by the Red Hot Organization. Griffith was a survivor of breast cancer which was diagnosed in 1996, and thyroid cancer in 1998. [9]

Singer-songwriter Christine Lavin remembers the first time she saw Griffith perform:

I was struck by how perfect everything was about her singing, her playing, her talking. I realized from the get-go that this was someone who was a complete professional. Obviously she had worked a long time to get to be that good. [10]

Griffith toured with various other artists, including Buddy Holly's band, The Crickets; John Prine; Iris DeMent; Suzy Bogguss; and Judy Collins. Griffith recorded duets with many artists, among them Emmylou Harris, Mary Black, John Prine, Don McLean, Jimmy Buffett, Dolores Keane, Willie Nelson, Adam Duritz (singer of Counting Crows), The Chieftains, musician John Stewart; and Darius Rucker (lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish). She also contributed background vocals on many other recordings. [11] Griffith suffered from severe writer's block for a number of years after 2004, lasting until the 2009 release of her The Loving Kind album, which contained nine selections that she had written and composed either entirely by herself or as collaborations.[ citation needed ]

After several months of limited touring in 2011, Griffith's bandmates The Kennedys (Pete & Maura Kennedy) packed up their professional Manhattan recording studio and relocated it to Nashville, where they installed it in Griffith's home. At this location, with her backing group, including Pete & Maura Kennedy and Pat McInerney, she co-produced her album Intersection over the course of the summer. The album included several new original songs and was released in April 2012 on Proper Records. [12]

Griffith was among hundreds of artists whose material was destroyed in the Universal Studios fire in June 2008. [13]

Awards

Griffith won the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album for Other Voices, Other Rooms. Griffith was awarded the Kate Wolf Memorial Award by the World Folk Music Association in 1995. [14] In 2008, the Americana Music Association awarded her its Americana Trailblazer Award.[ citation needed ] Lyle Lovett, who contributed backing vocals to some of "The Blue Moon Orchestra's" recordings,[ which? ] had won it before her.

Band (The Blue Moon Orchestra)

Griffith referred to her backing band as "The Blue Moon Orchestra". This reference is believed to have been drawn from both the title of one of her earliest albums, Once in a Very Blue Moon,[ citation needed ] and its title selection, which reached number 85 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1986.

Current members
Previous members
Guest backing vocalists

Personal life

Griffith's high school boyfriend, John, died in a motorcycle accident after taking her to the senior prom, and subsequently inspired many of her songs. [4] She was married to singer-songwriter Eric Taylor from 1976 to 1982. In the early 1990s, she was engaged to singer-songwriter Tom Kimmel. [15]

Death

Griffith died in Nashville on August 13, 2021, at the age of 68. [16] [8]

Discography

Studio albums

YearAlbumPeak chart positionsLabel
US Country
[17]
US
[18]
UK
[19]
1978 There's a Light Beyond These Woods B.F. Deal
1982 Poet in My Window Featherbed
1984 Once in a Very Blue Moon Philo
1986 The Last of the True Believers
1987 Lone Star State of Mind 23 MCA
1988 Little Love Affairs 2778
1989 Storms 429938
1991 Late Night Grande Hotel 18540
1993 Other Voices, Other Rooms 5418 Elektra
1994 Flyer 4820
1997 Blue Roses from the Moons 11964
1998 Other Voices, Too (A Trip Back to Bountiful) 85
1999 The Dust Bowl Symphony
2001 Clock Without Hands 14961
2004 Hearts in Mind New Door
2006 Ruby's Torch Rounder
2009 The Loving Kind
2012 Intersection Hell No
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Live albums

YearAlbumPeak chart positionsLabel
US Country
[17]
US
[18]
UK
[19]
1988 One Fair Summer Evening 43 MCA
2002 Winter Marquee 45 Rounder
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Compilation albums

YearAlbumPeak positionsLabel
UK [19]
1993 The MCA Years: A Retrospective MCA
The Best of Nanci Griffith 27
1997 Country Gold
2000Wings to Fly and a Place To Be:
An Introduction to Nanci Griffith
200120th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection:
The Best of Nanci Griffith
2002 From a Distance: The Very Best of Nanci Griffith
2003 The Complete MCA Studio Recordings
2015Ghost in the Music---VOX ROX
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Singles

YearSinglePeak chart
positions
Album
US Country
[20]
CAN Country
[21]
Irish Singles Chart
[22]
1986"Once in a Very Blue Moon"85Once in a Very Blue Moon
1987"Lone Star State of Mind"36Lone Star State of Mind
"Trouble in the Fields"5743
"Cold Hearts/Closed Minds"64
"Never Mind"58Little Love Affairs
1988"From a Distance"9Lone Star State of Mind
"I Knew Love"3720Little Love Affairs
"Anyone Can Be Somebody's Fool"64
1989"It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go"Storms
"I Don't Wanna Talk About Love"
1991"Late Night Grande Hotel"Late Night Grande Hotel
1993"Speed of the Sound of Loneliness"Other Voices, Other Rooms
1994"This Heart"Flyer
1995"Well...All Right" (with The Crickets)87 Not Fade Away (Remembering Buddy Holly)
1997"Maybe Tomorrow"Blue Roses from the Moons
"Gulf Coast Highway"
1999"These Days in an Open Book"The Dust Bowl Symphony
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Videography

Music videos

YearVideoDirector
1988"I Knew Love" Michael Salomon
1989"It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go" [23] Willy Smax
1991"Late Night Grande Hotel" [24] Sophie Muller
1993"Speed of the Sound of Loneliness" (with John Prine) [25] Rocky Schenck
1994"This Heart"
1996"Well...All Right" (with The Crickets)

See also

Related Research Articles

Emmylou Harris American singer, songwriter and musician

Emmylou Harris is an American singer, songwriter, and musician. She has released dozens of albums and singles over the course of her career and has won 14 Grammys, the Polar Music Prize, and numerous other honors, including induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2018, she was presented the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Suzy Bogguss American musician

Susan Kay Bogguss is an American country music singer and songwriter. She began her career in the 1980s as a solo singer. In the 1990s, six of her songs were Top 10 hits, three albums were certified gold, and one album received a platinum certification. She won Top New Female Vocalist from the Academy of Country Music and the Horizon Award from the Country Music Association.

Iris DeMent Musical artist

Iris Luella DeMent is an American two-time Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter. DeMent's musical style includes elements of folk, country and gospel.

Kate Wolf Musical artist

Kate Wolf was an American folk singer and songwriter. Though her career was relatively short, she had a significant impact on the folk music scene. Her best-known compositions include "Here in California", "Love Still Remains", "Across the Great Divide", "Unfinished Life", and "Give Yourself to Love". She recorded six albums as a solo artist. She was elected to the NAIRD Independent Music Hall of Fame in 1987. Her songs have since been recorded by artists such as Nanci Griffith and Emmylou Harris.

The Kennedys (band)

The Kennedys are an American folk-rock band, consisting of husband and wife Pete and Maura Kennedy. They are recognized for their harmonies and instrumental prowess, blending elements of country music, bluegrass, Western swing and janglepop.

<i>The Ballad of Sally Rose</i> 1985 studio album by Emmylou Harris

The Ballad of Sally Rose is an album by Emmylou Harris released in February 1985. It marked a significant departure for Harris for two reasons. First, all the songs were written by her and her then-husband Paul Kennerley, while her previous albums had consisted mostly of others' material. Secondly, it is a concept album, loosely based on Harris' relationship with Gram Parsons. The album tells the story of a character named Sally Rose, a singer whose lover and mentor, a hard-living, hard-drinking musician, is killed while on the road. Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Gail Davies sing harmony on several of the songs. Many of the songs flow into one another to create a continuous momentum.

<i>Other Voices, Other Rooms</i> (Nanci Griffith album) 1993 studio album by Nanci Griffith

Other Voices, Other Rooms was the tenth studio album by American singer Nanci Griffith. It was released on March 2, 1993 by Elektra Records. Her first since leaving MCA Records, it consisted entirely of cover songs, in tribute to songwriters who influenced her own songwriting. Guest artists who appear in their own compositions included Frank Christian playing guitar on "Three Flights Up", Bob Dylan playing harmonica on "Boots of Spanish Leather", and John Prine lending harmony vocals on "Speed of the Sound of Loneliness". The album got its name from the Truman Capote novel of the same name.

<i>The Last of the True Believers</i> 1986 studio album by Nanci Griffith

The Last of the True Believers was singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith's fourth studio album, and her last album for Philo Records. The acclaim accorded her from her previous album, Once in a Very Blue Moon, and this album earned her a contract with a major recording company. Here, Griffith continued her turn toward a more country-oriented work than her first two albums, which were primarily folk-sounding. It also includes two songs which were later hits for Kathy Mattea, "Love at the Five and Dime" from Walk the Way the Wind Blows (1986) and "Goin' Gone", her first number one, from Untasted Honey (1987).

<i>One Fair Summer Evening</i> 1988 live album by Nanci Griffith

One Fair Summer Evening was Nanci Griffith's seventh album, and her first one recorded in a live setting. It was recorded on August 19 and August 20, 1988 at Anderson Fair, a Houston, Texas club long known for featuring folk artists in an intimate setting.

Spyboy is a 1998 live album by Emmylou Harris and her backing band, Spyboy, which she formed for a tour to perform songs from her 1995 career-redefining album, Wrecking Ball. Taking a stripped-down approach, Harris is backed by a trio comprising country singer-songwriter Buddy Miller on guitar and New Orleans musicians Daryl Johnson on bass and Brady Blade on drums. Along with songs from Wrecking Ball, such as "Where Will I Be" and "Deeper Well", Harris performs other songs from earlier in her career, such as "Born to Run" from Cimarron, "Love Hurts", which she first performed with Gram Parsons, "I Ain't Living Long Like This" from Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town and her ode to Parsons, "Boulder to Birmingham", from her 1975 debut album, Pieces of the Sky.

Diana Jones is an American singer-songwriter based in Nashville, Tennessee. Jones's career gained wider critical acclaim in 2006 with the release of her album, My Remembrance of You. The album made a number of critics end-of-the-year "best of" lists. The Chicago Tribune rated the album as the "best country recording of 2006" and described Jones as "an Americana gem", whose sound rides "an old-timey vibe that never sounds fussy, ... in a voice subtly shaded by the high lonesome sound."

<i>Other Voices, Too (A Trip Back to Bountiful)</i> 1998 studio album by Nanci Griffith

Other Voices, Too was a 1998 album by Nanci Griffith. It was her thirteenth studio album. Following on from the Grammy Award winning album Other Voices, Other Rooms, Other Voices, Too is a second album of cover songs written by a wide variety of singer/songwriters.

Winter Marquee is a live album by folk singer Nanci Griffith. It was her first studio album for Rounder Records after leaving Elektra Records. Recorded live during the Clock Without Hands tour in spring 2002, this album grew from the original wish to capture just one live song into a 14-track live CD album, Griffith's first live recording since One Fair Summer Evening (1988). On May 29, 2002, at the historic Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville, a live performance was filmed, and released on DVD under the same name. During the recording of both the album and the DVD, Griffith was joined on stage by Emmylou Harris, Tom Russell and Andrew Hardin.

<i>Flyer</i> (album) 1994 studio album by Nanci Griffith

Flyer was the eleventh studio album released by singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith. Released in 1994, it contained 15 tracks, mostly of original material. It was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album at the 37th Annual Grammy Awards. The album had contributions from Peter Buck, Mark Knopfler, Emmylou Harris, Larry Mullen Jr., Adam Clayton, Adam Duritz, The Chieftains and the Indigo Girls.

<i>Aces</i> (album) 1991 studio album by Suzy Bogguss

Aces is the third studio album by the American country music singer-songwriter Suzy Bogguss, released on August 27, 1991, through Liberty Records. The album spawned three Top number 10 hits on the country charts – "Outbound Plane," "Aces" and "Letting Go" – and stayed at number number 1 in album sales and in the top ten on the country charts for five weeks.

Gail Davies American singer-songwriter

Gail Davies is an American singer-songwriter and the first female record producer in country music. She is the daughter of country singer Tex Dickerson and the sister of songwriter Ron Davies. Gail's son, Chris Scruggs, is a former co-lead singer and guitarist for the roots-country band BR549 and is currently on tour with Marty Stuart as a member of his Fabulous Superlatives.

<i>Infamous Angel</i> 1992 studio album by Iris DeMent

Infamous Angel is the debut studio album of American country music singer-songwriter Iris DeMent. It was released by Philo Records in 1992. The liner notes were written by John Prine, to whom DeMent's music has been compared by Los Angeles Times critic Robert Hilburn.

Barry and Holly Tashian American country, folk and bluegrass duo

Barry and Holly Tashian are an American country, folk and bluegrass duo. They are both singer-songwriters and musicians. They have performed and recorded together since 1972. The Tashians have recorded seven albums since 1989, and they have been awarded the National Association of Independent Record Distributors (NAIRD) award for their album "Straw into Gold". Barry has three CDs out with the Remains. They received a Boston Music Award for Best Country album for "Straw Into Gold". In 1998 their album, "Harmony" was nominated for Bluegrass Album of the Year by the Nashville Music Awards. As songwriters, Barry and Holly have written for Kenny Rogers, Solomon Burke, Ty England, Daniel O'Donnell, the Nashville Bluegrass Band, Roland White, Kate Brislin and Jody Stecher, Niall Toner, and many others. Barry Tashian first won acclaim as a member of the Remains. Barry made his TV debut in 1958 on "American Bandstand". He then later was a member of Emmylou Harris' Hot Band. Barry and Holly have recorded with Tom Paxton, Charlie Louvin, Nanci Griffith, Iris DeMent, Suzy Bogguss, and Delia Bell.

<i>Intersection</i> (album) 2012 studio album by Nanci Griffith

Intersection is the 20th and final album by singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith. It was released on 20 February 2012 on Proper Records/Hell No label. The album was recorded in her own home studio in Nashville and includes 12 tracks including five covers. This was Griffith’s last studio album before her retirement from the music business in 2013 and her death in 2021.

Philip Donnelly was a guitarist, songwriter and producer born in Clontarf, Dublin. Known as the Clontarf Cowboy he gained international recognition touring and recording with artists such as the Everly Brothers, Johnny Cash, Nanci Griffith, Townes Van Zandt, John Prine and Donovan.

References

  1. 1 2 Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 548–9. ISBN   1-85227-745-9.
  2. Sweeting, Adam (August 15, 2021). "Nanci Griffith obituary". the Guardian. Retrieved August 15, 2021.
  3. Nanci Griffith Was More Loved Than She Knew , texasmonthly.com, August 16, 2021
  4. 1 2 "The Popdose Guide to Nanci Griffith". Popdose. January 8, 2008. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  5. 1 2 Nanci Griffith’s death: Grammy-winning singer dies at 68 , globemediawire.com, Aug 14, 2021
  6. Nanci Griffith: Grammy-winning singer dies aged 68, independent.co.uk, Aug 14, 2021
  7. "Nanci Griffith: Folk and country singer-songwriter dies aged 68". BBC. August 14, 2021. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  8. 1 2 3 People magazine August 30th, 2021 issue Page 24
  9. "Biography". Archived from the original on January 13, 2007. Retrieved January 13, 2007. originating from nancigriffith.com Retrieved January 31, 2013
  10. Deitz, Roger (May/June 1995). "Home at Last". Acoustic Guitar. No. 30. p. 52.
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved September 5, 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. Griffith, Nanci (December 20, 2011). "Intersection". Proper-records.co.uk.
  13. Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times . Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  14. Noble, Richard E. (2009). Number No. 1 : the story of the original Highwaymen. Denver: Outskirts Press. pp. 265–267. ISBN   9781432738099. OCLC   426388468.
  15. Ibrahim, Samantha (August 13, 2021), "Nanci Griffith, Grammy-winning 'Five and Dime' singer, dead at 68", New York Post , retrieved August 14, 2021CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  16. Aswad, Jem (August 13, 2021). "Nanci Griffith, Grammy-Winning Singer-Songwriter, Dies at 68". Variety. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  17. 1 2 "Nanci Griffith Album & Song Chart History – Country Albums". Billboard . Prometheus Global Media.
  18. 1 2 "Nanci Griffith Album & Song Chart History – Billboard 200". Billboard . Prometheus Global Media.
  19. 1 2 3 Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 236. ISBN   1-904994-10-5.
  20. Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. ISBN   978-0-89820-177-2.
  21. "Results – RPM – Library and Archives Canada – Country Singles". RPM . July 17, 2013.
  22. "The Irish charts – All there is to know - Nanci Griffith". IRMA .
  23. "CMT : Videos : Nanci Griffith : It's A Hard Life Wherever You Go". Country Music Television . Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  24. "CMT : Videos : Nanci Griffith : Late Night Grande Hotel". Country Music Television . Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  25. "CMT : Videos : Nanci Griffith : Speed of the Sound Of Loneliness". Country Music Television . Retrieved January 21, 2013.