Aug 13, 2021: Nanci Griffith, Singer-Songwriter, Dead at 68

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Singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith, whose compositions included “Love at the Five and Dime,” a hit for Kathy Mattea, died Aug. 13, 2021, in Nashville. No cause of death was reported, though it’s known she had battled cancer years earlier. She was 68.

Griffith’s management company, Gold Mountain Entertainment, released a brief statement: “It was Nanci’s wish that no further formal statement or press release happen for a week following her passing.”

In 2023, a pair of releases will celebrate her life and career. More Than a Whisper, an all-star tribute album featuring recordings by Emmylou Harris, John Prine, and Lyle Lovett, among others, arrives on Sept. 22. And Working in Corners, a 4-CD set of Griffith’s work, will be released on Sept. 8.

Born in Seguin, Tex., on July 6, 1953, and raised in Austin, Griffith herself won a Grammy in 1994 for Best Contemporary Folk Album, for her album Other Voices, Other Rooms. Griffith is acknowledged as the first artist to record “From a Distance,” the Julie Gold song that later became a smash hit for Bette Midler. Griffith’s rendition appeared on her Lone Star State of Mind album, her first release for a major label, in 1987.

Another Griffith composition, “Outbound Plane,” co-written with Tom Russell, became a hit for country singer Suzy Bogguss.

Listen to a live version of the title track from Lone Star State of Mind

Griffith recorded more than 20 albums. She was awarded the Kate Wolf Memorial Award by the World Folk Music Association in 1995, and in 2008 the Americana Music Association awarded her its Lifetime Achievement Trailblazer Award.

Listen to Griffith’s version of “From a Distance”

Related: Musicians we lost in 2021

Watch Griffith and John Prine sing his “The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness” in 1990, which she later recorded on her Other Voices, Other Rooms album

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7 Comments so far

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  1. Jchastn
    #1 Jchastn 13 August, 2021, 17:09

    So sad. One of my favorite folk country artists. I had the pleasure of seeing her perform live twice. Once on the Pier in Seattle, with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. It was an unseasonably cold evening and the Orchestra had to leave because it was too cold for their very expensive instruments. Nanci and her Band rocked on for the rest of the evening! Will miss her greatly.

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  2. mike6
    #2 mike6 13 August, 2021, 18:27

    So sorry to hear Nanci Griffith is gone. Incredible artist, and I saw her once in Austin in 1985 at the Cactus Cafe. Room was packed, and no one spoke. She was absolutely riveting in performance. Hope she is at peace. She will be missed.

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  3. Charles
    #3 Charles 13 August, 2021, 22:23

    I did not know her personally but it breaks my heart to loose such a vibrant beautiful person at such a young age . Such a sweet voice lost

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  4. Steve
    #4 Steve 14 August, 2021, 01:41

    I was fortunate enough to see Nanci 3 times at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. She was fantastic, if a little preachy about her Liberal politics, (She commented during her performance the last time I saw her there, “Friends don’t let friends vote Republican.”)

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  5. Tucson Doug
    #5 Tucson Doug 14 August, 2021, 06:59

    I first heard Nanci as an opening act for John Prine, her voice just blew me away. So now, both Nanci and John are gone, so sad.

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  6. Stuartstorm
    #6 Stuartstorm 14 August, 2021, 08:29

    So sad news – can hardly believe it!

    Reply this comment
  7. John
    #7 John 15 August, 2021, 02:46

    This really hurts.

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