Nanci Griffith

Nanci Griffith
Griffith in 2004
Griffith in 2004
Background information
Birth name Nanci Caroline Griffith
Born (1953-07-06) July 6, 1953 (age 67)
Seguin, Texas, U.S.
Genres Folk, Country Folk, Americana
Instruments Vocalist, acoustic guitar
Years active 1978–2013
Labels B.F. Deal, Featherbed, Philo, MCA, Elektra, Rounder, New Door
Associated acts The 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,[1] raised in Austin, Texas, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Griffith appeared many times on the PBS music program Austin City Limits starting in 1985 (season 10). In 1990, Griffith appeared on the Channel 4 programme Town & Country with John Prine, where she had white pants on at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee, along with Buddy Mondlock, Robert Earl Keen, and Barry "Byrd" Burton.


Griffith was born in Seguin, Texas,[2] and her career has spanned a variety of musical genres, predominantly country, folk, and what she terms "folkabilly."[1] 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".

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.[3]

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.[4]

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.[5] 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 Intersection over the course of the summer. The album included several new original songs and was released in April 2012 on Proper Records.[6]

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.[7]


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.[8] 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
  • Nanci Griffith – lead vocals, guitar
  • Pat McInerney – percussion
  • Maura Kennedy β€” vocals, guitar
  • Pete Kennedy β€” guitar, vocals
Previous band members
  • J.T. Thomas – bass; vocals
  • Thomm Jutz β€” guitar, vocals
  • James Hooker β€” piano, B-3, keyboards, vocals
  • Le Ann Etheridge – vocals, bass guitar, rhythm guitar
  • Lee Satterfield – vocals, rhythm guitar, mandolin
  • Clive Gregson β€” guitar, vocals
  • Doug Lancio – electric guitar
  • Ron De La Vega β€” bass, cello
  • Fran Breen – drums
  • Steve Smith – drums
  • Philip Donnelly β€” guitar

Guest backing vocalists:

  • Emmylou Harris
  • Iris Dement
  • Lyle Lovett β€” backing vocals

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.[2] 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

Year Album Peak chart positions Label
US Country
1978 There's a Light Beyond These Woods β€” β€” β€” B.F. Deal
1982 Poet in My Window β€” β€” β€” Featherbed
1984 Once in a Very Blue Moon β€” β€” β€” Philo
1986 The Last of the True Believers β€” β€” β€”
1987 Lone Star State of Mind 23 β€” β€” MCA
1988 Little Love Affairs 27 β€” 78
1989 Storms 42 99 38
1991 Late Night Grande Hotel β€” 185 40
1993 Other Voices, Other Rooms β€” 54 18 Elektra
1994 Flyer β€” 48 20
1997 Blue Roses from the Moons β€” 119 64
1998 Other Voices, Too (A Trip Back to Bountiful) β€” 85 β€”
1999 The Dust Bowl Symphony β€” β€” β€”
2001 Clock Without Hands β€” 149 61
2004 Hearts in Mind β€” β€” β€” New Door
2006 Ruby's Torch β€” β€” β€” Rounder
2009 The Loving Kind β€” β€” β€”
2012 Intersection β€” β€” β€” Hell No
"β€”" denotes releases that did not chart

Live albums

Year Album Peak chart positions Label
US Country
1988 One Fair Summer Evening 43 β€” β€” MCA
2002 Winter Marquee 45 β€” β€” Rounder
"β€”" denotes releases that did not chart

Compilation albums

Year Album Peak positions Label
1993 The MCA Years: A Retrospective β€” MCA
The Best of Nanci Griffith 27
1997 Country Gold β€”
2000 Wings to Fly and a Place To Be:
An Introduction to Nanci Griffith
2001 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection:
The Best of Nanci Griffith
2002 From a Distance: The Very Best of Nanci Griffith β€”
2003 The Complete MCA Studio Recordings β€”
2015 Ghost in the Music --- VOX ROX
"β€”" denotes releases that did not chart


Year Single Peak chart
US Country
CAN Country
Irish Singles Chart
1986 "Once in a Very Blue Moon" 85 β€” β€” Once in a Very Blue Moon
1987 "Lone Star State of Mind" 36 β€” β€” Lone Star State of Mind
"Trouble in the Fields" 57 43 β€”
"Cold Hearts/Closed Minds" 64 β€” β€”
"Never Mind" 58 β€” β€” Little Love Affairs
1988 "From a Distance" β€” β€” 9 Lone Star State of Mind
"I Knew Love" 37 β€” 20 Little Love Affairs
"Anyone Can Be Somebody's Fool" 64 β€” β€”
1989 "It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go" β€” β€” β€” Storms
"I Don't Wanna Talk About Love" β€” β€” β€”
1991 "Late Night Grande Hotel" β€” β€” β€” Late Night Grande Hotel
1993 "Speed of the Sound of Loneliness" β€” β€” β€” Other Voices, Other Rooms
1994 "This Heart" β€” β€” β€” Flyer
1995 "Well...All Right" (with The Crickets) β€” 87 β€” Not Fade Away (Remembering Buddy Holly)
1997 "Maybe Tomorrow" β€” β€” β€” Blue Roses from the Moons
"Gulf Coast Highway" β€” β€” β€”
1999 "These Days in an Open Book" β€” β€” β€” The Dust Bowl Symphony
"β€”" denotes releases that did not chart


  • Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration Sony VHS (1993)
  • Other Voices, Other Rooms Elektra Video VHS (1993)
  • Winter Marquee Rounder/Universal DVD, Widescreen, (2002)
  • One Fair Summer Evening...Plus! Universal Music & VI DVD, Fullscreen, (2005)

Music videos

Year Video Director
1988 "I Knew Love" Michael Salomon
1989 "It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go"[17] Willy Smax
1991 "Late Night Grande Hotel"[18] Sophie Muller
1993 "Speed of the Sound of Loneliness" (with John Prine)[19] Rocky Schenck
1994 "This Heart"
1996 "Well...All Right" (with The Crickets)

See also


  1. ^ a b Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 548–9. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  2. ^ a b "The Popdose Guide to Nanci Griffith". Popdose. January 8, 2008. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  3. ^ "Biography". Archived from the original on January 13, 2007. Retrieved January 13, 2007. originating from Retrieved January 31, 2013
  4. ^ Deitz, Roger. "Home at Last." Acoustic Guitar. May/June 1995, No. 30, p. 52.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved September 5, 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Griffith, Nanci. "Intersection".
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Noble, Richard E. (2009). Number No. 1 : the story of the original Highwaymen. Denver: Outskirts Press. pp. 265–267. ISBN 9781432738099. OCLC 426388468.
  9. ^ "Nanci Griffith Album & Song Chart History – Country Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media.
  10. ^ "Nanci Griffith Album & Song Chart History – Billboard 200". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media.
  11. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 236. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  12. ^ "Nanci Griffith Album & Song Chart History – Country Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media.
  13. ^ "Nanci Griffith Album & Song Chart History – Billboard 200". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media.
  14. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. ISBN 978-0-89820-177-2.
  15. ^ "Results – RPM – Library and Archives Canada – Country Singles". RPM.
  16. ^ "Irish charts – search the charts". IRMA.
  17. ^ "CMT : Videos : Nanci Griffith : It's A Hard Life Wherever You Go". Country Music Television. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  18. ^ "CMT : Videos : Nanci Griffith : Late Night Grande Hotel". Country Music Television. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  19. ^ "CMT : Videos : Nanci Griffith : Speed of the Sound Of Loneliness". Country Music Television. Retrieved January 21, 2013.

External links