Straddling the fine line between folk and country music, Nanci Griffith has become as well-known for her brilliant confessional songwriting as her beautiful voice. A self-styled "folkabilly" singer, Griffith began as a kindergarten teacher and occasional folksinger. Griffith finally decided to make music her full-time ambition in 1977.
Now twenty albums into her career, Nanci Griffith is out with Intersection, an album about difficulties, about anger, about things that slip away and things that explode.
“It’s emotional for me, and it’s personal, and it makes my heart pound, thinking I’m going to be totally exposed here,” says Nanci Griffith, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
“So many people are at an intersection in their life, with the way the economy is, with foreclosures and downsizing… For me, Intersection is my musical crossroads.”
A small group of musicians banded together at Griffith’s Nashville home for the making of Intersection. Multi-instrumentalist Pete Kennedy drove his recording equipment down from New York City, and he, Griffith, singer-songwriter Maura Kennedy and percussionist Pat McInerney set about creating the album in an environment devoid of studio clocks. The four share producer credit, and they made the bulk of the music, with Eric Brace and Peter Cooper contributing harmonies to a 20th anniversary version of Griffith’s “Just Another Morning Here” (first heard on 1991’s Late Night Grand Hotel), Richard Bailey of The Steeldrivers adding banjo to “High on a Mountain Top,” Robbin Bach singing backing vocals on “Davey’s Last Picture,” and the world’s most famous road manager, Phil Kaufman, making his recorded bass debut on “Come On Up, Mississippi.” The latter song also features Kaufman, Bach, and Bruce MacKay, along with a children’s choir.
Twenty albums now, and only one like this, but it’s funny what happens with songs. Sometimes making the best is doing the worst to yourself, but sometimes making the best is singing your truth, even if it makes your heart pound.
Greg Brown's mother played electric guitar, his grandfather played banjo, and his father was a Holy Roller preacher in the Hacklebarney section of Iowa, where the Gospel and music are a way of life. Brown's first professional singing job came at age 18 in New York City, running hootenannies at the legendary Gerdes Folk City. After a year, Brown moved west to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where he was a ghostwriter for Buck Ram, founder of the Platters. Tired of the fast-paced life, Brown traveled with a band for a few years, and even quit playing for a while before he moved back to Iowa and began writing songs and playing in midwestern clubs and coffeehouses.
Brown's songwriting has been lauded by many, and his songs have been performed by Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana, Michael Johnson, Shawn Colvin, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. He has also recorded more than a dozen albums, including his 1986 release, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, when he put aside his own songwriting to set poems of William Blake to music. One Big Town, recorded in 1989, earned Brown three and a half stars in Rolling Stone, chart-topping status in AAA and The Gavin Report's Americana rankings and Brown's first Indie Award from NAIRD (National Association of Independent Record Distributors).
The Poet Game, his 1994 CD, received another Indie award from NAIRD. His critically acclaimed 1996 release, Further In, was a finalist for the same award. Rolling Stone's four-star review of Further In called Brown "a wickedly sharp observer of the human condition." 1997's Slant 6 Mind (Red House Records) earned Brown his second Grammy nomination. His latest CD, One Night (Red House), is a re-release of a 1983 live performance originally on Minneapolis' Coffeehouse Extemporé Records.