Nanci Caroline Griffith, born July 6, 1953, is an American singer, guitarist and songwriter from Austin, Texas, United States. Her career has spanned a variety of musical genres, predominantly country and folk, and what she terms "folkabilly."
She won a 1994 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album for Other Voices, Other Rooms, an album of Griffith covering the songs of artists who influenced her.
Her best-known song is From a Distance, by Julie Gold, although the version that achieved greater commercial success was not Griffith's but Bette Midler's (From a Distance). Similarly, other artists have occasionally achieved greater success with Griffith's songs than Griffith herself: for example, Kathy Mattea, who had a country music top five hit with a 1986 cover (Love at the Five and Dime) of Love at the Five and Dime.
In 1994, Griffith teamed up with Jimmy Webb to contribute the song "If These Old Walls Could Speak" to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Country produced by the Red Hot Organization. Griffith is a survivor of breast cancer which was diagnosed in 1996, and thyroid cancer in 1998.
Singer-songwriter Christine Lavin remembers the first time she saw Griffith perform:
I was struck by how perfect everything was about her singing, her playing, her talking. 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.
In recent years, Griffith has toured with various other artists, including Buddy Holly's band, The Crickets; John Prine; Iris DeMent; Suzy Bogguss; and Judy Collins. Griffith has recorded duets with many artists, among them Emmylou Harris, Mary Black, John Prine, Don McLean, Jimmy Buffett, Dolores Keane, Willie Nelson, Adam Duritz (singer of Counting Crows), The Chieftains, and Darius Rucker (lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish). She has also contributed background vocals on many other recordings.
Griffith suffered from severe 'writers block' for a number of years after 2004, lasting until the 2009 release of her The Loving Kind album, which contained nine selections that she had written and composed either entirely by herself or as collaborations.
After several months of limited touring in 2011, Griffith's bandmates The Kennedys (Pete & Maura Kennedy) packed up their professional Manhattan recording studio and relocated it to Nashville, where they installed it in Nanci's home. There, Griffith and her backing team, including Pete & Maura Kennedy and Pat McInerney, co-produced her album, Intersections over the course of the summer. The album includes several new original songs and was released in April 2012.
In addition to her own songs, Griffith is well known for her versions of other people's material, usually by contemporary singer-songwriters.
Griffith won the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album for Other Voices, Other Rooms. In 2008, the Americana Music Association awarded her its Americana Trailblazer Award; Lyle Lovett, who contributed backing vocals to some of "The Blue Moon Orchestra's" recordings,[which?] had won it before her.
Band (The Blue Moon Orchestra)
Nanci refers to her backing band as "The Blue Moon Orchestra." This reference is believed to have been drawn from both the title of one of her earliest albums, Once in a Very Blue Moon, and its title selection, which reached #85 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1986.