Nanci Griffith is a critically acclaimed country/pop singer who helps keep alive the
age-old folk tradition of telling stories through songs.
Nanci Caroline Griffith was born 46 years ago today in Austin, Texas. Her parents loved
music and taught their daughter to appreciate it. Griffith began playing guitar as a
youngster and was performing in clubs by the time she was 14.
Griffith attended the University of Texas and put her musical ambitions on hold to teach
kindergarten in the mid-'70s. In 1977, she decided to focus her energies on being a
professional musician. Early in her career, Griffith won a songwriting award at the
Kerrville (Texas) Folk Festival, which landed her a chance to record a debut LP for local
label BF Deal. The album, There's a Light Beyond These Woods (1978), attracted
attention because of Griffith's sweet voice.
She began building a fanbase by gigging throughout the U.S. in festivals and bars and
by releasing two more LPs, 1982's Poet in My Window and 1985's Once in a
Very Blue Moon. The albums showcased Griffith's insightful, confessional
After moving to Nashville, Griffith began making a dent in the country charts. The
Grammy Awardnominated Last of the True Believers (1986) charted and
received a great deal of acclaim within the Nashville community. And other artists, such
as Kathy Mattea and Suzy Bogguss, recorded Griffith's songs. Mattea had a #3 country
smash with "Love at the Five & Dime."
But Griffith grew frustrated with her lack of acceptance on country radio and began
recording more pop-oriented material in Los Angeles. Her major-label debut, 1987's
Lone Star State of Mind (MCA), featured the song "From a Distance," which Bette
Midler later made into an international smash. Griffith's frustrations with the label began
with its refusal to release the track as a single in the U.S. it was released in
Ireland and helped make Griffith a superstar there. The album's title track was Griffith's
first top-40 hit on the Billboard country charts.
Griffith eventually moved further into rock territory with 1989's Storms, helped by
veteran rock producer Glyn Johns. The LP, one of Griffith's biggest sellers, featured
appearances by ex-Eagle Bernie Leadon, Phil Everly, Albert Lee and others.
Late Night Grande Hotel, produced by Rod Argent and Peter Van Hook, was less
popular. Griffith returned to her roots on 1993's Other Voices, Other Rooms,
which featured such folk songs as "Do Re Mi," some performed with peers, including Iris
DiMent and Emmylou Harris. The album won the 1994 Grammy Award for Best
Contemporary Folk Album.
Flyer (1994) featured help from such rockers as the BoDeans' Sam Llanas and
Kurt Neumann, Mark Knopfler, Peter Buck, Larry Mullen Jr., Adam Clayton and the Indigo
Girls. Blue Roses From the Moons (1997) contained reworkings of some of
Griffith's best-loved songs, including "Gulf Coast Highway," on which she dueted with
Hootie & The Blowfish's Darius Rucker.
Last year's Other Voices, Too (A Trip Back to Bountiful) included covers of Richard
Thompson's "Wall of Death" (RealAudio excerpt) and Sonny
Curtis' "I Fought the Law," on which the composer also played.
Other birthdays: Gene Chandler, 62; Richard Elswit (Dr. Hook), 54; John Keeble
(Spandau Ballet), 40; Tim Bricheno (Sisters Of Mercy), 36; Michael Grant (Musical
Youth), 30; Bill Haley (1925-1981); and Phyllis Hyman (1949-1995).