Nanci Griffith

Last updated
Nanci Griffith
Griffith in 2004
Background information
Birth nameNanci Caroline Griffith
Born (1953-07-06) July 6, 1953 (age 66)
Seguin, Texas, U.S.
Genres Folk, country folk
InstrumentsVocalist, acoustic guitar
Years active1978–present
Labels B.F. Deal, Featherbed, Philo, MCA, Elektra, Rounder, New Door
Associated actsThe Blue Moon Orchestra
The Crickets
Darius Rucker
The Kennedys
James McMurtry

Nanci Caroline Griffith (born July 6, 1953) is an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter, raised in Austin, Texas, who currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Griffith appeared many times on the PBS music program Austin City Limits starting in 1985 (season 10).

Austin, Texas Capital of Texas

Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County, with portions extending into Hays and Williamson counties. It is the 11th-most populous city in the United States and the 4th-most populous city in Texas. It is also the fastest growing large city in the United States, the second most populous state capital after Phoenix, Arizona, and the southernmost state capital in the contiguous United States. As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 1, 2018 estimate, Austin had a population of 964,254 up from 790,491 at the 2010 census. The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,168,316 as of July 1, 2018. Located in Central Texas within the greater Texas Hill Country, it is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis on the Colorado River, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, and Lake Walter E. Long.

Nashville, Tennessee State capital and consolidated city-county in Tennessee, United States

Nashville is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Tennessee. The city is the county seat of Davidson County and is located on the Cumberland River. The city's population ranks 24th in the U.S. According to 2018 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the total consolidated city-county population stood at 692,587. The "balance" population, which excludes semi-independent municipalities within Davidson County, was 669,053 in 2018.

PBS Public television network in the United States

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American public broadcaster and television program distributor. It is a nonprofit organization and the most prominent provider of educational television programming to public television stations in the United States, distributing series such as American Experience, America's Test Kitchen, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, Barney & Friends, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Downton Abbey, Finding Your Roots, Frontline, The Magic School Bus, Masterpiece, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Nature, Nova, the PBS NewsHour, Sesame Street, Teletubbies, and This Old House.



Griffith was born in Seguin, Texas, [1] and her career has spanned a variety of musical genres, predominantly country, folk, and what she terms "folkabilly." Griffith won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1994 for her recording, Other Voices, Other Rooms. This album features Griffith covering the songs of artists who are 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. 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" and Suzy Bogguss had one of her largest hits with Griffith's and Tom Russell's "Outbound Plane".

Seguin, Texas City in Texas, United States

Seguin is a city in and the county seat of Guadalupe County, Texas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 25,175. By 2015, the population was estimated to be 27,864.. As of 2017, the population of the city reached 31,078 people.

Country music, also known as country and western, and hillbilly music, is a genre of popular music that originated in the southern United States in the early 1920s. It takes its roots from genres such as American folk music and blues.

Folk music Music of the people

Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, but folk music extends beyond that.

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 is a survivor of breast cancer which was diagnosed in 1996, and thyroid cancer in 1998. [2]

Jimmy Webb American songwriter, composer, and singer

Jimmy Layne Webb is an American songwriter, composer, and singer. He has written numerous platinum-selling songs, including "Up, Up and Away", "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", "Wichita Lineman", "Galveston", "The Worst That Could Happen", "All I Know", and "MacArthur Park". He has had successful collaborations with Glen Campbell, Michael Feinstein, Linda Ronstadt, The 5th Dimension, Art Garfunkel, and Richard Harris.

<i>Red Hot + Country</i> 1994 compilation album by Red Hot AIDS Benefit Series , (Various Artists)

Red Hot + Country was the follow-up to No Alternative in the Red Hot Series of compilation albums, a series produced to raise awareness and money to fight AIDS/HIV and related health and social issues. This compilation featured music from the classic country and classic rock genres performed by an assortment of seasoned old and new country music artists.

Red Hot Organization US-based nonprofit dedicated to fighting AIDS through pop culture

Red Hot Organization (RHO) is a not-for-profit, 501(c) 3, international organization dedicated to fighting AIDS through pop culture.

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

Singer-songwriter musician who writes, composes and sings

Singer-songwriters are musicians who write, compose, and perform their own musical material, including lyrics and melodies.

Christine Lavin American musician

Christine Lavin is a New York City-based singer-songwriter and promoter of contemporary folk music. She has recorded numerous solo albums, and has also recorded with other female folk artists under the name Four Bitchin' Babes. She has also put together several compilation albums of contemporary folk artists, including her latest Just One Angel, 22 singer/songwriters singing Christmas/Hanukah/Solstice/New Year's songs including actor Jeff Daniels, Grammy-winners Janis Ian and Julie Gold, and the Guitar Man Of Central Park David Ippolito.

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. [3]

In recent years, Griffith has toured with various other artists, including Buddy Holly's band, The Crickets; John Prine; Iris DeMent; Suzy Bogguss; and Judy Collins. Griffith has 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). She has also contributed background vocals on many other recordings. [4]

Buddy Holly 20th-century American singer-songwriter

Charles Hardin Holley, known professionally as Buddy Holly, was an American musician and singer-songwriter who was a central and pioneering figure of mid-1950s rock and roll. He was born in Lubbock, Texas, to a musical family during the Great Depression, and learned to play guitar and sing alongside his siblings. His style was influenced by gospel music, country music, and rhythm and blues acts, which he performed in Lubbock with his friends from high school.

The Crickets American rock and roll band

The Crickets were an American rock and roll band from Lubbock, Texas, formed by singer-songwriter Buddy Holly in the 1950s. Their first hit record, "That'll Be the Day", released in 1957, peaked at number three on the Billboard Top 100 chart on September 16. The sleeve of their first album, The "Chirping" Crickets, shows the band lineup at the time: Holly on lead vocals and lead guitar, Niki Sullivan on rhythm guitar, Jerry Allison on drums, and Joe B. Mauldin on bass. The Crickets helped set the template for subsequent rock bands, such as the Beatles, with their guitar-bass-drums lineup and the talent to write most of their own material. After Holly's death in 1959 the band continued to tour and record with other band members into the 21st century.

John Prine American country singer/songwriter

John Prine is an American country folk singer-songwriter. He has been active as a composer, recording artist, and live performer since the early 1970s, and is known for an often humorous style of country music that has elements of protest and social commentary.

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 Nanci's home. There, Griffith and her backing team, including Pete & Maura Kennedy and Pat McInerney, co-produced her album Intersections over the course of the summer. The album included several new original songs and was released in April 2012.[ citation needed ]

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Nanci Griffith among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. [5]


Griffith won the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album for Other Voices, Other Rooms. In 2008, the Americana Music Association awarded her its Americana Trailblazer Award. 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 refers 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, and its title selection, which reached No. 85 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1986.

Current members
Previous band 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. [1] She was married to singer-songwriter Eric Taylor from 1976 to 1982. In the early 1990s, she was engaged to singer-songwriter Tom Kimmel, but the couple never married.[ citation needed ]


Studio albums

YearAlbumPeak chart positionsLabel
US Country
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
One Fair Summer Evening 43
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
2002 Winter Marquee 45 Rounder
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

Compilation albums

YearAlbumPeak positionsLabel
UK [8]
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


YearSinglePeak chart
US Country
CAN Country
Irish Singles Chart
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


Music videos

1988"I Knew Love" Michael Salomon
1989"It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go" [12] Willy Smax
1991"Late Night Grande Hotel" [13] Sophie Muller
1993"Speed of the Sound of Loneliness" (with John Prine) [14] Rocky Schenck
1996"Well...All Right" (with The Crickets)

See also

Related Research Articles

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

Other Voices, Other Rooms is Nanci Griffith's tenth album, released in 1993. It consists of songs written by other songwriters who have influenced her own career. Guest artists who appear in their own compositions include 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 get 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 is singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith's fourth album, and her last with the folk music-oriented Philo Records. The acclaim accorded her from her previous Once in a Very Blue Moon and the current album would gain her a contract with a major recording company after this album. Here, Griffith continues her turn toward a more country-oriented work than her first two albums, which were primarily folk-sounding. It also includes two songs which would later be hits for Kathy Mattea: "Love at the Five and Dime" from her 1986 album Walk the Way the Wind Blows, and "Goin' Gone", Mattea's first Number One, from 1987's Untasted Honey.

<i>Lone Star State of Mind</i> 1987 studio album by Nanci Griffith

Lone Star State of Mind is Nanci Griffith's fifth album, and her first with a major recording label. Griffith's music took a turn from her original folk music base into more commercially viable country music. For this album, she enlisted the talents of veteran country producer Tony Brown. The album garnered her first appearance on the Billboard Country charts, rising to #23 on the Country Albums chart, and is her highest charting album. The title track, "Lone Star State of Mind," became the first of only three Griffith singles to enter the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. It peaked at #36, while two other singles from the album, "Cold Hearts/Closed Minds" and "Trouble in the Fields", reached #64 and #57 respectively. "From a Distance" failed to chart because it was released only as a promotional single in the USA. That song successfully hit the charts when Bette Midler covered it in 1990.

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

One Fair Summer Evening is 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.

<i>Storms</i> (Nanci Griffith album) 1989 studio album by Nanci Griffith

Storms is singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith's eighth album. In it she heads in a third musical direction, that of pop music. Griffith, whose background is primarily folk music, turned toward country music in her preceding four or five albums, and here, again, ventures into a little different style. Griffith enlisted the talents of noted rock music producer Glyn Johns for the musical style change. The album landed at #42 on the Billboard Country Albums chart, and at #99 on the Pop Albums chart in 1989. The last track on the album, "Radio Fragile", is about singer-songwriter Phil Ochs.

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

Other Voices, Too is a 1998 album by Nanci Griffith. 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. The album includes many guest performances from musicians, including Guy Clark, The Crickets, Odetta, Lucinda Williams, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Richard Thompson.

<i>Clock Without Hands</i> 2001 studio album by Nanci Griffith

Clock Without Hands is Nanci Griffith's fourteenth studio album, released in July 2001. It was named after Carson McCullers' final novel and is a particularly personal collection of songs, including "Last Song for Mother", a tribute to her late mother. Vietnam is a recurring subject in several songs, including the biographical "Pearls Eye View " for Dickey Chapelle, and "Traveling Through This Part of You" for her ex-husband, Eric Taylor, a Vietnam veteran.

The Dust Bowl Symphony is an album released by Nanci Griffith in 1999. It consists of songs Griffith had previously released on other albums, but re-recorded with an orchestral backing. The album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios with the London Symphony Orchestra. Darius Rucker duets with Griffith on "Love at The Five and Dime", and the album also has contributions from Sonny Curtis and Glen Hardin, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Griffith's own band, The Blue Moon Orchestra. The song "Waiting for Love", written by Griffiths, from Blue Roses from the Moons was picked out by Griffiths as giving the singer a "brief moment of being Edith Piaf".

<i>Somewhere Between</i> (album) 1989 studio album by Suzy Bogguss

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<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 #10 hits on the country charts -- "Outbound Plane," "Aces" and "Letting Go" and stayed at number #1 in album sales and in the top ten on the country charts for five weeks.

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"Outbound Plane" is a song written by American country music artists Nanci Griffith and Tom Russell. It was released on Griffith's 1988 album Little Love Affairs. Suzy Bogguss covered the song as the opening track and the second single from her 1991 album Aces. The song reached #9 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart in March 1992.

Thomm Jutz is a German-born American singer, songwriter, producer, and guitar player, based in Nashville, Tennessee.


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  4. Guest Appearances on Other Artists' Albums
  5. 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.
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  7. "Nanci Griffith Album & Song Chart History - Billboard 200". Billboard . Prometheus Global Media.
  8. 1 2 Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 236. ISBN   1-904994-10-5.
  9. Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. ISBN   0-89820-177-2.
  10. "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada - Country Singles". RPM .
  11. "Irish charts - search the charts". IRMA .
  12. "CMT : Videos : Nanci Griffith : It's A Hard Life Wherever You Go". Country Music Television . Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  13. "CMT : Videos : Nanci Griffith : Late Night Grande Hotel". Country Music Television . Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  14. "CMT : Videos : Nanci Griffith : Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness". Country Music Television . Retrieved January 21, 2013.