Nanci Griffith, the Grammy-winning folk and country artist who pioneered the “folkabilly” sound, has died at 68.
No cause of death has been revealed at this time, Variety reports. According to a statement from Gold Mountain Entertainment, “It was Nanci’s wish that no further formal statement or press release happen for a week following her passing.” In the 1990s, she survived two bouts with cancer.
Griffith’s successes arrived in contradictory forms. A powerful vocalist, her biggest hits as a songwriter came for other artists, such as Kathy Mattea’s “Love at the Five and Dime,” Bette Midler’s “From a Distance,” and Suzy Bogguss’ “Outbound Plane.” And despite her chops as a writer, she won her only Grammy for a cover album, 1993’s Other Voices, Other Rooms, which featured a duet with John Prine, “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness,” and a take on Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather.”
Born July 6th, 1953, in Seguin, Texas, Griffith worked as a schoolteacher before finding her footing in music. Her first album, 1978’s There’s a Light Beyond These Woods, was released independently. While she started off as a folk singer, she pioneered a style she called “folkabilly,” and was embraced by a vibrant community of country artists, even as country radio airplay remained elusive.
Over the course of her career, she collaborated with the likes of Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, the Chieftans, Darius Rucker, and more, while releasing 18 studio albums and two live sets. Her final album, Intersection, came out in 2012.
“Today I am just sad man,” Rucker wrote on Twitter. “I lost one of my idols. One of the reasons I am in Nashville. She blew my mind the first time I heard Marie and Omie. And singing with her was my favorite things to do.”
Check out a selection of some of her performances below.
Today i am just sad man. I lost one of my idols. One of the reasons I am in Nashville.She blew my mind the first time I heard Marie and Omie. And singing with her was my favorite things to do. Grammy-winning folk singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith dies. https://t.co/LxybrFSHAh
— Darius Rucker (@dariusrucker) August 13, 2021