In high school, she started playing guitar but didn't rack up much stage time until in college. That was when she started a band and sang a lot of harmony. After college, she did a lot of moving, to and through Colorado, Washington, South America, Boston, Europe, and occasionally Nashville. Serving a stint as a cook at the Bluebird Café didn't do much harm to pull her into the singer/songwriter fold. In 1988, Richey planted her roots in Nashville to really test that fold and hone her own songwriting craft. She built a reputation as a singer who could interpret a lyric and harmonize with the best of them, all the while writing songs with an optimistic melancholy quality that is unusual and alluring. Before too long, Richey was signed to PolyGram Records, releasing her eponymous debut in 1995. Bitter Sweet and Glimmer followed in two-year increments. All three albums were tagged as contemporary country but actually fall in step pretty close to John Hiatt's brand of music making.