This morning I received the sad news that beloved singer/songwriter Nanci Griffith, passed away on Wednesday at her home in Nashville Tennessee. Details about the cause of her death have not been published at this stage but her death will be sure to send a shockwave through the close-knit American music community as well as her legion of fans all around the world.
Nanci came to the notice of a wider music community as the singer of the Bette Midler hit song, “From a Distance” though Midler’s version achieved greater commercial success. She collaborated with most of the musicians in the industry and is widely credited with giving both Lyell Lovett and Emmy-Lou Harris a solid start in the music business. She formed musical partnerships with a list of artists that make up a virtual who’s who of the trade, including John Prine, Suzy Bogguss and the abovementioned Emmy-Lou Harris. The list of people who have worked with her is long and hugely impressive. Kathy Mattea had a big cover of her “Love at the Five and Dime” and Suzy’s version of her “Outbound Plane” is considered to be the definitive one amongst the dozens of artists who covered that song.
In 2011 she packed up her professional recording studio in Manhattan and shifted it to her home in Nashville from where she continued to write, sing and record.
Nanci’s music is strongly Texan in style but has a gentleness and whimsy that makes her style unique. She has the ability to speak strongly but with kindness and sympathy.
I will miss Nanci but I am very grateful that she leaves behind a collection of recorded treasures.
RIP Nanci Griffith (1953-2021) Yes, she was only 68 years old, what a tragedy.