Patty Griffin

A singer-songwriter’s singer-songwriter, the Maine-born Patricia Jean Griffin grew up in an environment where she and her mom and her sisters always sang around the house. Taking some inspiration from John Lennon and Aretha Franklin, she started writing her own tunes shortly after buying her first guitar – a used Hohner – when she was 16, but stuck with performing cover songs in her first band Patty & the Executives. A move to Boston in the mid-’80s led to guitar lessons from the Pousette-Dart Band’s John Curtis, with whom she started singing in local clubs, and then a recording of some solo demos, which landed her a contract with A&M Records. The demos evolved into the acclaimed voice and acoustic guitar album Living with Ghosts, after which she joined the Lilith Fair tour, moved to Nashville, and began work on what would become her second release Flaming Red, this time adding electric guitars, keyboards, and percussion. Griffin toured as an opener for Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams, and became an in-demand songwriter when Bette Midler, Linda Ronstadt, and the Dixie Chicks began covering her songs. After recording her third album, Silver Bell, for A&M in 2000, she fell victim to the shifting tides of the music business. Ownership of that album went to many different companies, it got lost in the shuffle, and though there were bootleg versions around, it wasn’t released till 2013 (with the additional song “Fragile”). But in the middle of all the ruckus, Griffin caught the attention of Dave Matthews, who signed her to his own ATO Records, where she eventually made all sorts of Americana albums, including A Kiss in Time, The Impossible Dream, and the Grammy-nominated 1000 Kisses. In 2007, Griffin won the Americana Music Award as “Best Artist,” following that up in 2011 with a Grammy win for Best Traditional Gospel Album for Downtown Church. A release of new recordings, American Kid, also came out in 2013.  (by Ed Symkus and Stephen Haag)

Published on May 24, 2014

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