Patty Griffin

Last updated

Patty Griffin
Central Park Sound Stage.jpg
Griffin performing at Sound Stage in Central Park, New York, September 17, 2008
Background information
Birth namePatricia Jean Griffin
Born (1964-03-16) March 16, 1964 (age 57)
Origin Old Town, Maine, U.S.
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • piano
Years active1992–present
Associated acts

Patricia Jean Griffin (born March 16, 1964) is an American singer-songwriter and musician. [1] She is a vocalist and plays guitar and piano. She is known for her stripped-down songwriting style in the folk music genre. Her songs have been covered by numerous musicians, including Emmylou Harris, Ellis Paul, Kelly Clarkson, Rory Block, Dave Hause, Sugarland and The Chicks.


In 2007, Griffin received the Artist of the Year award from the Americana Music Association, and her album Children Running Through won the award for Best Album. In 2011, Griffin's album Downtown Church won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Gospel Album and her 2019 self-titled album won the Grammy Award for Best Folk Album.


Griffin is from Old Town, Maine, United States, next to the Penobscot Native American reservation. The youngest child in her family, with six older siblings, she bought a guitar for $50 at age 16. She sang and played but had no inclination to become a professional musician. After a 6-year marriage, which ended in 1994, Griffin began playing in Boston coffee houses and was "scouted" by A&M Records, which signed her on the strength of her demo tape. When the finished studio recordings were submitted to A&M, the company executives thought it was overproduced, so producer Nile Rodgers and A&M instead released a stripped-down reworking of her demo tape as the album Living with Ghosts. [2]

Griffin's second album, Flaming Red , released in 1998, was a departure from the acoustic sound of Living with Ghosts, with a mix of mellow songs and high-tempo rock and roll songs. The title track, "Flaming Red", is an example of the latter, beginning with an even beat until it increases to a fevered pitch of emotion. Another song from the album, "Tony", is also featured on the charity benefit album Live in the X Lounge .

Her third album, Silver Bell , has a sound similar to its predecessor. It was released by A&M in 2013, 13 years after it was recorded (and well after bootlegged copies had been circulated). A&M dropped Griffin's contract after Silver Bell was recorded, and she was then signed by Dave Matthews's ATO Records. Griffin re-recorded songs from that album for later releases, such as "Making Pies", "Mother of God", "Standing", and "Top of the World". Copies of the unreleased Silver Bell were leaked and bootlegged and can be easily acquired by the B&P (blanks and postage) method on message boards. [3] In August 2013, it was announced that UMe planned to release Silver Bell, mixed by producer Glyn Johns, in October 2013. [4]

Four albums followed on ATO: 1000 Kisses (2002), A Kiss in Time (2003), Impossible Dream (2004), and Children Running Through (2007).

In 2004, Griffin toured with Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings as the Sweet Harmony Traveling Revue. On February 6, 2007, she released Children Running Through . The album debuted at number 34 on the Billboard 200, with 27,000 copies sold. [5] Of the album, Griffin told Gibson Lifestyle, "I just kind of felt like singing what I wanted to sing, and playing how I wanted to play. It's not all dark and tragic. It's a different way for me to look at things. Getting old—older, I should say, I'm not so serious all the time." [6] It was also said that the album was inspired by her childhood. [7]

Griffin's songs have been recorded by numerous artists, including the Irish-born singer Maura O'Connell ("Long Ride Home"), Linda Ronstadt ("Falling Down"), The Chicks ("Truth No. 2", "Top of the World", "Let Him Fly", "Mary"), Bette Midler, Melissa Ferrick and Missy Higgins ("Moses"), Beth Nielsen Chapman, Christine Collister, and Mary Chapin Carpenter ("Dear Old Friend"), Jessica Simpson ("Let Him Fly"), Martina McBride ("Goodbye"), Emmylou Harris ("One Big Love", "Moon Song"), Bethany Joy Galeotti ("Blue Sky"), the Wreckers ("One More Girl"), Keri Noble and Ruthie Foster ("When It Don't Come Easy"), Joan Osborne ("What You Are"), Solomon Burke ("Up to the Mountain"), and Miranda Lambert ("Getting Ready"). Kelly Clarkson performed "Up to the Mountain" with Jeff Beck on guitar, accompanied by some orchestration on the "Idol Gives Back" episode of American Idol , and the live recording was released as a single immediately afterwards, reaching number 56 on the Billboard Hot 100 in its first week and giving Griffin her highest-charting position as a songwriter. (The audience gave Clarkson a standing ovation following her performance.) Griffin's version of the song was featured in episode 11 of the fourth season of the ABC television show Grey's Anatomy .

Instruments, effects, and sound

Recent work

Griffin performing at the North Carolina Museum of Art in 2006 PattyGriffin2006.jpg
Griffin performing at the North Carolina Museum of Art in 2006

In September 2008, Griffin sang "You Got Growing Up to Do" in a duet with indie artist Joshua Radin on his album Simple Times. In October 2008, she sang background vocals on Todd Snider's cover of John Fogerty's "Fortunate Son" for Snider's Peace Queer album. In February 2009, she was featured on the album Feel That Fire, by Dierks Bentley, in a duet on the song "Beautiful World". In 2009, Griffin, along with Mavis Staples and the Tri-City Singers released a version of the song "Waiting for My Child to Come Home" on the compilation album Oh Happy Day: An All-Star Music Celebration . [10]

Griffin performing "Up To the Mountain" at the Carter Reception Dinner during the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library in 2014 DIG13607-147.jpg
Griffin performing "Up To the Mountain" at the Carter Reception Dinner during the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library in 2014

The collaboration with Staples led EMI's Peter York to suggest Griffin make an album of gospel songs. Griffin agreed on the condition that friend and bandmate Buddy Miller produced the record. [11] The album, Downtown Church (her sixth studio album), recorded at the Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville, was released on January 26, 2010. [12] The album, featuring Shawn Colvin, Emmylou Harris, and Griffin's long-time friends Buddy and Julie Miller, contains songs by Hank Williams, Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton, and "All Creatures of Our God and King" (credited to St. Francis of Assisi). [13]

In July 2010, Robert Plant toured the United States with Band of Joy (reprising the name of his band in the 1960s), with Griffin as a backing vocalist and singer-guitarist Buddy Miller, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Darrell Scott, bassist-vocalist Byron House, and drummer-percussionist-vocalist Marco Giovino. She is also featured on Plant's solo album Band of Joy , released in September 2010 by Rounder Records. [14]

In 2014 Griffin parted with Plant after a long relationship; they had lived together and divided their time between Austin, Texas, and England. [15] In 2019, Griffin released "River", a track from her upcoming self-titled album and her first new music since battling breast cancer. Patty Griffin was released on March 8, 2019. [16]

On January 11, 2019 along with an official announcement of her new album release (on her PGM Recordings label via Thirty Tigers), a new song, River, she announced a spring 2019 concert tour [17]

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Patty Griffin among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. [18]

Film, television, and theater

In 1997, Griffin's song "Not Alone", from the album Living with Ghosts , was used in the final scene and ending credits for the 1997 film Niagara, Niagara . It was also used at the end of episode 6 ("Believers") of season 1 of the television series Crossing Jordan , broadcast on October 29, 2001; on the 2009 release of the soundtrack from the television series Without a Trace ; and at the end of episode 12 of season 10 of the television series NCIS , which aired on January 15, 2013.

Griffin has appeared in several movies, including Cremaster 2 and Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown , the soundtrack of which includes her song "Long Ride Home" and a cover of "Moon River", by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini.

In 1997 her song "One Big Love", from the album Flaming Red , was used in the final scenes and credits of the film Digging to China .

In 2004, her song "Rowing Song" was used in episode 9 ("The Trick Is to Keep Breathing") of season 2 of the television series One Tree Hill .

In 2005, her songs "Cold As It Gets", "Rowing Song" and "Forgiveness" were featured in Tim Kirkman's film Loggerheads starring Bonnie Hunt, Tess Harper, Chris Sarandon, Michael Learned, Kip Pardue, and Michael Kelly. Only "Cold As It Gets" and "Forgiveness" appear on its soundtrack.

The 2006 film Griffin and Phoenix included "Nobody's Crying" and "Rain."

In 2006, her song "Rain" was used in episode 17 ("The Skull in the Desert") of season 1 of the television series Bones .

In 2007, her song “Heavenly Day” was featured prominently at the end of episode 16 (“Promise”) of season 6 of the television series “Smallville”.

In 2007, the Atlantic Theater Company produced 10 Million Miles, an off-Broadway musical, directed by Michael Mayer, with music and lyrics by Griffin.

In 2009, her song "Mary" was used in episode 10 of season 2 of Sons of Anarchy, and "When It Don't Come Easy" closed out season 2, episode 8 of In Plain Sight.

Griffin's first DVD, Patty Griffin: Live From the Artists Den, was filmed on February 6, 2007, at the Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts on New York's Lower East Side and released later that year. Selections from the DVD were featured on the program Live from the Artists Den on Ovation TV, beginning January 24, 2008.

In 2007, Griffin was named Artist of the Year by the Americana Music Association, the top honor bestowed by the association, and her album Children Running Through was selected as Best Album. At the awards ceremony she performed "Trapeze" with Emmylou Harris harmonizing. [19]

On June 13, 2008, Griffin performed an acoustic-in-the-round set in Nashville with Kris Kristofferson and Randy Owen (Alabama), for a taping of a PBS songwriters series aired in December 2008. Each of them played five songs; Griffin performed "Top of the World," "Making Pies," "No Bad News," "Up to the Mountain," and "Mary."

In May 2013, her song "Heavenly Day" was used in a commercial for Chevy's new Volt line of automobile, entitled "Volt: Silent Statement".

In May 2015, her song "Go Wherever You Wanna Go" was used in episode 22 of season 10 of the television series Supernatural .

In 2015, the song "Let him fly" was a turning point for Nick Yarris in the documentary "The Fear of Thirteen".

In 2018, the song "Heavenly Day" was featured in episode 5 of season one in the Netflix series Haunting of Hill House.


Studio albums

TitleDetailsPeak chart positions
US Christ

US Indie
US Rock
US Taste
Living with Ghosts
  • Release date: May 21, 1996
  • Label: A&M
  • Formats: CD, cassette
Flaming Red
  • Release date: June 23, 1998
  • Label: A&M
  • Formats: CD, cassette
1000 Kisses
  • Release date: April 9, 2002
  • Label: ATO
  • Formats: CD, cassette
Impossible Dream 67
Children Running Through
  • Release date: February 6, 2007
  • Label: ATO
  • Formats: CD, music download
Downtown Church
  • Release date: January 26, 2010
  • Label: Credential
  • Formats: CD, music download
American Kid
  • Release date: May 7, 2013
  • Label: New West
  • Formats: CD, LP, music download
Silver Bell
  • Release date: October 8, 2013
  • Label: A&M, UMe
  • Formats: CD, LP, music download
Servant of Love
  • Release date: September 25, 2015
  • Label: Self-released / Thirty Tigers
  • Formats: CD, LP, music download
Patty Griffin
  • Release date: March 8, 2019
  • Label: PGM (Self-released) / Thirty Tigers
  • Formats: CD, LP, music download
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Live albums

A Kiss in Time
  • Release date: October 7, 2003
  • Label: ATO
  • Formats: CD, cassette
Patty Griffin: Live from the Artist's Den
  • Release date: September 9, 2008
  • Label: Artists Den
  • Formats: Music download, DVD
Before Sunrise (Live 1992)
  • Release date: February 13, 2020
  • Label: Lo-Light Records
  • Formats: Music download, streaming

Other contributions

Guest singles

YearSingleArtistPeak positionsAlbum
US Country
2009"Seeing Stars" Jack Ingram 54 Big Dreams & High Hopes

Music videos

1996"Every Little Bit"
1998"One Big Love"
2002"Chief"Traci Goudie
2004"Love Throw a Line"
2009"Beautiful World" (with Dierks Bentley)
2010"Little Fire"
2013"Ohio"Roy Taylor

Related Research Articles

Julie Miller

Julie Anne Miller is a songwriter, singer, and recording artist currently living in Nashville, Tennessee. She married Buddy Miller in 1981. They sing and play on each other's solo projects and have recorded three duet albums.

Buddy Miller

Steven Paul "Buddy" Miller is an American singer, songwriter, musician, recording artist and producer, currently living in Nashville, Tennessee. Miller is married to and has recorded with singer-songwriter Julie Miller.

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.

Patty Smyth American singer and songwriter

Patricia Smyth is an American singer and songwriter. She first came into national attention with the rock band Scandal and went on to record and perform as a solo artist. Her distinctive voice and new wave image gained broad exposure through video recordings aired on cable music video channels such as MTV. Her debut solo album Never Enough was well received, and generated a pair of Top 100 hits. In the early 1990s she reached the Top 10 with the hit single "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough," a duet with Don Henley of Eagles. She performed and co-wrote with James Ingram the song "Look What Love Has Done" for the 1994 motion picture Junior. The work earned her a Grammy Award nomination for Best Song Written for Visual Media, as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. Smyth married retired tennis player John McEnroe in 1997.

Meiko (American singer) American singer-songwriter

Meiko is an American singer-songwriter. She independently released a self-titled album on September 1, 2007. All of the tracks from the LP have been featured in major network TV shows. Her second full-length, titled The Bright Side, was released through Fantasy Records on May 15, 2012, and a single from the album, "Stuck On You", reached No. 1 on the combined Japanese AirPlay Chart and No. 1 on the International Chart in Japan.

Nanci Griffith American singer-songwriter

Nanci Caroline Griffith is an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter, raised in Austin, Texas, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Griffith appeared many times on the PBS music program Austin City Limits starting in 1985. In 1990, Griffith appeared on the Channel 4 programme Town & Country with John Prine, where she performed at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, along with Buddy Mondlock, Robert Earl Keen, and Barry "Byrd" Burton.

Shawn Colvin American singer-songwriter and musician

Shawn Colvin is an American singer-songwriter and musician. While Colvin has been a solo recording artist for decades, she is best known for her 1998 Grammy Award-winning song "Sunny Came Home".

Rodney Crowell American musician

Rodney Crowell is an American musician, known primarily for his work as a singer and songwriter in country music. Crowell has had five number one singles on Hot Country Songs, all from his 1988 album Diamonds & Dirt. He has also written songs and produced for other artists.

Beth Nielsen Chapman American singer and songwriter

Beth Nielsen Chapman is an American singer and songwriter who has written hits for country and pop music performers.

<i>Red Dirt Girl</i> 2000 studio album by Emmylou Harris

Red Dirt Girl is the nineteenth studio album by American country artist Emmylou Harris, released on September 12, 2000 by Nonesuch Records. The album was a significant departure for Harris, as eleven of the twelve tracks were written or co-written by her. At the time, she was best known for covering other songwriters' work. Prior to this album, only two of Harris' LPs had more than two of her own compositions. Her next album, Stumble into Grace, was also written by Harris. The album contains "Bang the Drum Slowly", a song Guy Clark helped Harris write as an elegy for her father. The album peaked at number 3 on the Billboard country album charts and won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 2001.

<i>All the Roadrunning</i> 2006 studio album by Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris

All the Roadrunning is a collaboration between British singer-songwriter and guitarist Mark Knopfler and American singer-songwriter Emmylou Harris, released on 24 April 2006 by Mercury Records and Universal Music internationally, and by Warner Bros. Records in the United States. The album received favorable reviews, and reached the number one position on album charts in Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland. The album peaked at number eight in the United Kingdom, and number 17 on the Billboard 200 in the United States. The title track, which actually was released the year before as a new track on the compilation album Private Investigations, was released as a single and reached number 8 in the UK.

<i>Eagle When She Flies</i> 1991 studio album by Dolly Parton

Eagle When She Flies is the thirty-first solo studio album by American singer-songwriter Dolly Parton. It was released on March 7, 1991, by Columbia Records. The album was produced by Steve Buckingham and Gary Smith, with Parton serving as executive producer. It continues Parton's return to mainstream country sounds following 1989's White Limozeen. The album features collaborations with Lorrie Morgan and Ricky Van Shelton, with additional supporting vocals provided by Vince Gill and Emmylou Harris. The album was a commercial success, becoming Parton's first solo album to peak at number one on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart since 1980s 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs. It was certified Platinum in by the RIAA in 1992. The album spawned four singles, the most successful being "Rockin' Years" with Ricky Van Shelton, which topped the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. In support of the album, Parton embarked on the Eagle When She Flies Tour, her only concert tour of the 1990s.

<i>1000 Kisses</i> (album) 2002 studio album by Patty Griffin

1000 Kisses is the third studio album by Patty Griffin. It was released on April 9, 2002 on ATO Records.

<i>A Kiss in Time</i> 2003 live album by Patty Griffin

A Kiss in Time is Patty Griffin's fourth commercially released album, and her first live album. It was recorded on 30 January 2003, at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee and released on 7 October of the same year. The package includes a DVD which features behind the scenes footage of Griffin as well as videos of "Chief" and "Rain." According to Billboard the album debuted at number 21 on the Top Heatseekers chart and has sold 34,000 copies in the U.S. up to May 2004.

<i>Impossible Dream</i> 2004 studio album by Patty Griffin

Impossible Dream is the fourth studio album by the American folk musician Patty Griffin, released on April 20, 2004. The album features an unlisted song – Griffin’s mother and father singing “The Impossible Dream” – at the end of “Top of the World.”

<i>Children Running Through</i> 2007 studio album by Patty Griffin

Children Running Through is Patty Griffin's sixth commercially released album, and fifth studio album. It was released on 6 February 2007. The album features vocals from Emmylou Harris on "Trapeze". "Heavenly Day" was the album's first single.

"Up to the Mountain " is a contemporary folk song written by Patty Griffin. The song touches upon emotions surrounding Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous 1968 "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech, given the day before his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. Originally recorded by Solomon Burke in 2006 and Griffin herself in 2007, it has found greater prominence in performances and recordings since then by Kelly Clarkson and Jeff Beck, Susan Boyle, Crystal Bowersox, and Kree Harrison.

Emmylou Harris discography

The American singer Emmylou Harris has released 26 studio albums, three live albums, 11 compilation albums, three video albums, and 70 singles. After releasing a debut folk album on the Jubilee label in 1969 and recording with Gram Parsons, Harris signed with Reprise Records in 1974.

<i>All I Intended to Be</i> 2008 studio album by Emmylou Harris

All I Intended to Be is the 25th studio album from Emmylou Harris and her third release on Nonesuch Records. It was released in the United States on June 10, 2008. The album debuted at number 22 on the Billboard 200, and number four on Top Country Albums, which makes the album Harris’ highest charting solo record on the Billboard 200 since Evangeline was released in 1981. As of 2014 it has sold 153,973 copies in United States according to Nielsen SoundScan.

<i>Downtown Church</i> 2010 studio album by Patty Griffin

Downtown Church is the sixth studio album by American singer-songwriter Patty Griffin, released on January 26, 2010, by Credential Recordings, a Christian label distributed by EMI. The album was recorded in Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville and features different styles. Griffin has stated that she recorded the album to explore her feelings about religion. The album debuted at number 38 on the Billboard 200 and topped the Billboard Christian Albums and Folk Albums charts. The critical response was "generally favorable". On December 1, 2010, the album received a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Gospel Album. On February 13, 2011, Downtown Church won the Grammy for Best Traditional Gospel Album. This was Patty Griffin's first Grammy award, after previously being nominated for Best Contemporary/Folk Americana Album for Children Running Through in 2007.


  1. Griffin, Patricia Fan website biography Archived July 28, 2018, at the Wayback Machine
  2. Harris, Craig (accessed March 17, 2008) Billboard com
  3. "PattyNet • Index page". Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  4. Votaw, Emily (July 31, 2013). "Patty Griffin's Lost 'Silver Bell' Album to Be Released in October". Billboard . Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 5, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. Ellen Mallernee, Ellen Gibson Lifestyle article Archived May 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  7. Cole, Katherine (February 20, 2007). "Childhood Reflections Inspire Patty Griffin on Latest CD". VOA News. Voice of America. Archived from the original on January 16, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2009.
  8. "Play Guitar Like Patty Griffin - Fretbase". September 5, 2012. Archived from the original on September 5, 2012. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  9. "Weekend music picks: Jack Ingram, Patty Griffin and more swap songs at ACL Live – Austin Music Source" . Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  10. "Jon Bon Jovi, Queen Latifah go gospel for "Day"". Reuters. March 27, 2009.
  11. "Downtown Church Press Release". Big Hassle. December 7, 2009. Archived from the original on December 20, 2009.
  12. "Patty Griffin – Downtown Church". Amazon. December 7, 2009.
  13. "Patty's Next Album: Downtown Church". Patty Central. December 7, 2009. Archived from the original on November 3, 2009.
  14. Kreps, Daniel (March 26, 2010). "Robert Plant's New Band of Joy Plot Album, Summer Tour". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 10, 2010.
  15. "First Listen: Robert Plant, "Lullaby and... the Ceaseless Roar"". NPR. September 11, 2014.
  16. "Patty Griffin Debuts New Single 'River' from Latest Album — Her First Since Battling Breast Cancer". Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  17. "PATTY GRIFFIN ANNOUNCES 3/8 RELEASING ALBUM, "PATTY GRIFFIN" via Thirty Tigers". Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  18. 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.
  19. Shelburne, Craig (accessed March 14, 2008) CMT: Patty Griffin Wins Americanas Highest Honor
  20. "Patty Griffin Chart History – Billboard 200". Billboard . Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  21. "Patty Griffin Chart History – Christian Albums". Billboard . Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  22. "Patty Griffin Chart History – Folk Albums". Billboard . Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  23. "Patty Griffin Album & Song Chart History – Independent Albums". Billboard . Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  24. "Patty Griffin Album & Song Chart History – Rock Albums". Billboard . Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  25. "Patty Griffin Chart History – Tastemaker Albums". Billboard . Retrieved May 7, 2011.
Preceded by
James McMurtry
AMA Album of the Year (artist)
Succeeded by
Alison Krauss & Robert Plant
Preceded by
Neil Young
AMA Artist of the Year
Succeeded by
Levon Helm