Nanci Griffith travels well. Her musical journey has taken her from folk and country roots, to her own brand of "folkabilly"; from Austin’s Hole In The Wall bar to New York’s Carnegie Hall, Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry and London’s Royal Albert Hall; from an eight-year-old girl in Texas learning to play guitar from a television instructor to a woman of the world, visiting and performing in Vietnam, Cambodia and Kosovo in support of the abolition of landmines. Today, the journey of one of the most admired and acclaimed of singer-songwriters--a career marked by a beautiful voice, brilliant songwriting and uncommon emotional commitment--continues.
The torchbearer of a music that brings together folk and country, the female sensibility of a new genre that embraced the likes of Lyle Lovett, Dwight Yoakam and Steve Earle, Griffith has penned such classics as "Gulf Coast Highway" (a notable duet by Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson), "Love At The Five And Dime" (a Grammy nominated hit for Kathy Mattea) and "Outbound Plane" (a hit for Suzy Bogguss). In turn, she was the first to record Julie Gold’s Grammy winning classic "From A Distance." She has also been honored with five Grammy nominations, three as a solo artist (winning once) and twice for performances on albums by The Chieftains (winning once).
Born in 1953 in Seguin, near San Antonio, Griffith grew up in Austin. She learned to play the guitar from a Saturday morning PBS series hosted by Laura Weber and began writing her own songs because she found that easier than learning how to play those of other people. Her first professional gig was at Austin’s Red Lion club on a Thanksgiving holiday evening when she was 14. Later that year, singer-songwriter Tom Russell heard her singing around a campfire at the Kerrville Folk Festival and became her earliest champion.
She would play the local club circuit, at first with her parents as chaperones, throughout high school and college and her first jobs as a teacher. Graduating from the University of Texas with an education degree, she taught kindergarten and first grade in Austin during the ‘70s even as she held a five-year Sunday night spot at the Hole In The Wall.