Shelly Brisbin Biography & Facts
Nanci Caroline Griffith (July 6, 1953 – August 13, 2021) was an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter, 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.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. Nanci's mother Ruelene was a real estate agent and amateur actress, her father, Marlin Griffith, was a graphic artist and barbershop quartet singer.
Nanci Griffith began her career as a singer performing in a local coffeehouse, aged 12. Her father took her to see Townes Van Zandt as a teenager. At the age of 14, she did her first professional gig at the Red Lion Cabaret in downtown Austin. 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." Griffith won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1994 for her 1993 recording, Other Voices, Other Rooms. 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. 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 was a survivor of breast cancer which was diagnosed in 1996, and thyroid cancer in 1998.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.
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.
Griffith suffered from severe writer's block 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.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.
Griffith won the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album for Other Voices, Other Rooms. She was inducted into Austin Music Hall of Fame in 1995. Griffith was awarded the Kate Wolf Memorial Award by the World Folk Music Association in 1995. In 2008, the Americana Music Association awarded her its Lifetime Americana Trailblazer Award. Lyle Lovett, who contributed backing vocals to her third album, Once in a Very Blue Moon, had won it before her. In 2010, Griffith received a Lifetime Achievement Award at BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.Griffith will be inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Association’s Hall of Fame in February 2022 at the Paramount Theatre in Austin.
The Blue Moon Orchestra
Griffith referred to her backing band as the Blue Moon Orchestra. With regard to the chosen stage name, she wrote:
During the Christmas holidays of 1986 I organized a band of musicians to work this road of touring and to pass effortlessly through mine fields of studio sessions. They chose their name, the Blue Moon Orchestra, from my third album, Once In A Very Blue Moon. Some of them I had recorded and toured with prior to 1986: and some simply wandered into the Blue Moon Orchestra through this revolving open door of the road.
The title selection of the Once in a Very Blue Moon album reached number 85 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1986.
Current membersPat McInerney – percussion
Maura Kennedy – vocals, guitar
Pete Kennedy – guitar, vocalsPrevious membersNanci Griffith – lead vocals, guitar
James Hooker – piano, B-3, keyboards, vocals
Philip Donnelly – guitar
Clive Gregson – guitar, vocals
Doug Lancio – electric guitar
Thomm Jutz – guitar, vocals
Byrd Burton – guitar
Frank Christian – guitar
Ron De La Vega – bass, cello
Pete Gorisch – bass, cello
J. T. Thomas – bass, vocals
Denny Bixby – bass
Pete Gordon – bass
Le Ann Etheridge – vocals, bass guitar, rhythm guitar
Lee Satterfield – vocals, rhythm guitar, mandolin
Fran Breen – drums
Steve Smith – drums
Liam Genocky - drumsGuest backing vocalists
Denice FrankePersonal 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. She was married to singer-songwriter Eric Taylor from 1976 to 1982. In the early 1990s, she was engaged to singer-songwriter Tom Kimmel.
Griffith died in Nashville on August 13, 2021, at the age of 68.
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...P.... Discover the Shelly Brisbin popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Shelly Brisbin books.