Nanci Griffith, Grammy-winning folk singer-songwriter, dies at 68

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nanci Griffith, the Grammy-winning folk singer-songwriter from Texas whose literary songs like “Love at the Five and Dime” celebrated the South, has died. She was 68.

Her management company, Gold Mountain Entertainment, said Griffith died Friday but did not provide a cause of death.

“It was Nanci’s wish that no further formal statement or press release happen for a week following her passing,” Gold Mountain Entertainment said in a statement.

FILE – Nanci Griffith performs at the Rainbow Push Coalition Labor Day Rally in Charleston, W.Va., on Sept. 6, 2004. Griffith, the Grammy-winning folk singer-songwriter from Texas whose literary songs like “Love at the Five and Dime” celebrated the South, has died. She was 68. A statement from her management company on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, confirmed her death, but no cause of death was provided. (AP Photo/Jon C. Hancock, File)
FILE – Nanci Griffith, left, and John Prine perform at the Americana Music Association awards in Nashville, Tenn., on Sept. 17, 2009. Griffith, the Grammy-winning folk singer-songwriter from Texas whose literary songs like “Love at the Five and Dime” celebrated the South, has died. She was 68. A statement from her management company on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, confirmed her death, but no cause of death was provided. (AP Photo/Josh Anderson, File)
FILE – Nanci Griffith performs during the ACLU Freedom Concert Oct. 4, 2004, in New York. Griffith, the Grammy-winning folk singer-songwriter from Texas whose literary songs like “Love at the Five and Dime” celebrated the South, has died. She was 68. A statement from her management company on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, confirmed her death, but no cause of death was provided. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

Griffith worked closely with other folk singers, helping the early careers of artists like Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris. She had a high-pitched voice, and her singing was effortlessly smooth with a twangy Texas accent as she sang about Dust Bowl farmers and empty Woolworth general stores.

Griffith was also known for her recording of “From a Distance,” which would later become a well-known Bette Midler tune. The song appeared on Griffith’s first major label release, “Lone Star State of Mind” in 1987.

Rest In Peace Nanci Griffith 💜 https://t.co/hO1twXA0Qu

— John Prine (@JohnPrineMusic) August 13, 2021

Her 1993 album “Other Voices, Other Rooms,” earned a Grammy for best contemporary folk album. Named after a Truman Capote novel, the album features Griffith singing with Harris, John Prine, Arlo Guthrie and Guy Clark on classic folk songs.


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In 2008, Griffith won the Lifetime Achievement Trailblazer Award from the Americana Music Association.

Country singer Suzy Bogguss, who had a Top 10 hit with Griffith’s song “Outbound Plane,” posted a remembrance to her friend on Instagram.

Sometime in the 90’s, Nanci Griffith, Mary Chapin Carpenter & I did a songwriter-in-the-round show at the Bottom Line in NYC. Nanci played ‘Trouble in the Fields’. It was–is–stunning. Here she is, singing it with the great @momaura. #RIPNanciGriffith https://t.co/88cqRFRZRp

— rosanne cash (@rosannecash) August 13, 2021

“I feel blessed to have many memories of our times together along with most everything she ever recorded. I’m going to spend the day reveling in the articulate masterful legacy she’s left us,” Bogguss wrote.

Darius Rucker called Griffith one of his idols and why he moved to Nashville.

“Singing with her was my favorite things to do,” he wrote on Twitter.

Keeping in line with the tradition of folk music, Griffith often wrote social commentary into her songs, such as the anti-racist ode “It’s a Hard Life Wherever You Go,” and the economic impact on rural farmers in the 1980s on “Trouble in the Fields.”

“I wrote it because my family were farmers in West Texas during the Great Depression,” Griffith told the Los Angeles Times in a 1990 interview. “It was written basically as a show of support for my generation of farmers.”

Griffith gained many fans in Ireland and Northern Ireland, where she would often tour.

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