In Memoriam: Five Must-Listen Nanci Griffith Songs

The late singer-songwriter's musical prowess touched Bette Midler, Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, and more

On August 13, 2021, iconic “folkabilly” singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith passed away at 68. For four decades, she — alongside artists including John Prine — represented the generational continuation of folk-style singer-songwriter excellence emerging from Austin, Texas’ capital city. Griffith was frequently a performer on the PBS music program Austin City Limits. Also, in 1994, she won a Grammy Award for her tenth studio album Other Voices, Other Rooms, plus in 2008, the Americana Music Association awarded her its Americana Trailblazer Award.

“I was struck by how perfect everything was about her singing, her playing, her talking,” said notable folk artist Christine Lavin in the May/June 1995 edition of Acoustic Guitar Magazine. “I realized from the get-go that this was someone who was a complete professional. Obviously, she had worked a long time to get to be that good.” As well, in a poignant Variety in memoriam piece, Holly Gleason writes, “[Griffith was the] ultimate contradiction: ’aw shucks’ presence with a gumption that took listeners by surprise…the Austin, Texas songwriter traveled around the world many times as a songstress, an activist and a beacon of what so many women who wanted to carve out a life in letters without losing the guilelessness of innocence abroad.”

As early-to-mid 90’s country and pop sensibilities merged with a passionate, emotional core, it’s oftentimes Griffith’s work — either as a songwriter or vocalist, herself — that emerged at the peak of excellence in music, overall. Here are five of these notable moments.

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