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Patty Griffin

Patty Griffin
Griffin performing at Sound Stage in Central Park on September 17, 2008
Background information
Birth name Patricia Jean Griffin
Born (1964-03-16) March 16, 1964
Origin Old Town, Maine, US
Genres Folk rock, Folk, americana, alternative country
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano
Years active 1992–present
Labels A&M
ATO Records
Credential Recordings
New West Records
Associated acts Dixie Chicks
Emmylou Harris
Sweet Harmony Traveling Revue
Buddy Miller
Robert Plant
Joshua Radin
Band of Joy
Website .com.pattygriffinwww

Patricia Jean "Patty" Griffin (born March 16, 1964) is an American singer-songwriter and musician.[1] Known for her stripped-down songwriting style centered on the folk music genre, her songs have been covered by a host of musicians including Emmylou Harris, Ellis Paul, Rory Block, Dave Hause, and the Dixie Chicks.

In 2007, Griffin was the recipient of the Americana Music Association's "Artist of the Year" award and her album, Children Running Through, won for "Best Album".

In 2011, Griffin's album titled Downtown Church won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Gospel Album.


  • Biography 1
  • Instruments, effects, and sound 2
  • Recent work 3
  • Film, television, and theater 4
  • Discography 5
    • Studio albums 5.1
    • Live albums 5.2
    • Other contributions 5.3
    • Guest singles 5.4
    • Music videos 5.5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Griffin is from Old Town, Maine, United States, next to the Penobscot Native American reservation. She is primarily a guitarist, pianist, and vocalist. The youngest child in her family with six older siblings, she bought a guitar for $50 at age 16. She sang and played, but had no inclination at the time to become a professional musician. After a short marriage, which ended in 1992, Griffin began playing in Boston coffee houses, and was scouted by A&M Records, who signed Griffin on the strength of her demo tape. When the finished studio recordings were submitted to A&M, the company execs thought it to be overproduced, so Nile Rodgers and A&M instead released a stripped-down reworking of her demo tape, as an album called Living with Ghosts.[2]

Griffin's second album, 1998's Flaming Red was a departure from the acoustic sound of Living with Ghosts, with a mix of mellow songs along with other, very high tempo rock and roll songs. The title track, "Flaming Red" is an example of this, beginning with an even beat until it increases to a fevered pitch of emotion. "Tony" from this album is also featured on the charity benefit album Live in the X Lounge.

Her third record, Silver Bell, had a similar sound to its predecessor. It was released by A&M only 13 years after it was recorded (and well after it leaked into the public domain). A&M dropped Griffin's contract after Silver Bell was recorded, but she was picked up by Dave Matthews' ATO Records. Griffin re-recorded songs from that album for later releases such as "Making Pies", "Mother of God," "Standing," and "Top of the World" and others have been most famously covered by the Dixie Chicks. Copies of the unreleased Silver Bell were leaked and bootlegged, and can now be easily acquired via the "B&P" (Blanks and Postage) method on message boards.[3] In August 2013, it was announced UMe planned to release Silver Bell in October 2013 and producer Glyn Johns had mixed the album for the new release.[4]

Four albums followed on ATO, including 2002's 1000 Kisses, A Kiss in Time (2003), Impossible Dream (2004), and Children Running Through (2007).

In 2004, Griffin toured with Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings as the Sweet Harmony Traveling Revue. On February 6, 2007, she released Children Running Through. The album debuted at #34 on the Billboard 200 with 27,000 copies sold.[5] Of the album, Griffin told Gibson Lifestyle, "I just kind of felt like singing what I wanted to sing, and playing how I wanted to play. It's not all dark and tragic. It's a different way for me to look at things. Getting old—older, I should say, I'm not so serious all the time."[6] It was also said that the album was inspired by her childhood days.[7]

Griffin's songs have been recorded by artists such as Irish-born singer Maura O'Connell ("Long Ride Home"), Linda Ronstadt ("Falling Down"), the Dixie Chicks ("Truth No. 2," "Top of the World," "Let Him Fly"), Bette Midler, Melissa Ferrick and Missy Higgins ("Moses"), Beth Nielsen Chapman, Christine Collister, and Dixie Chicks ("Mary"), Mary Chapin Carpenter ("Dear Old Friend"), Jessica Simpson ("Let Him Fly"), Martina McBride ("Goodbye"), Emmylou Harris ("One Big Love", "Moon Song"), Bethany Joy Galeotti ("Blue Sky"), The Wreckers ("One More Girl"), Keri Noble ("When It Don't Come Easy"), Joan Osborne ("What You Are"), Solomon Burke ("Up to the Mountain"), and Miranda Lambert ("Getting Ready"). Kelly Clarkson performed "Up to the Mountain" with Jeff Beck on guitar, accompanied by some orchestration on the Idol Gives Back episode of American Idol, and the live recording was released as a single immediately afterwards, reaching #56 on the Billboard Hot 100 in its first week and giving Griffin her highest charting position as a songwriter. (The audience gave Clarkson a standing ovation following her performance.) Griffin's version of the song was featured on the fourth season, episode 11 of the popular ABC television show, Grey's Anatomy.

Instruments, effects, and sound

  • 1965 Gibson J-50 Guitar
  • 1993 Gibson J-200 Junior Guitar[8]

Recent work

Griffin performing at the North Carolina Museum of Art in 2006

In September 2008, Griffin was featured on the album Simple Times by indie artist Joshua Radin, duetting on the song "You Got Growing Up to Do." In October 2008, she appeared in background vocals on Todd Snider's cover of John Fogerty's "Fortunate Son" for Snider's Peace Queer album. In February 2009, Griffin was featured on the album Feel That Fire by Dierks Bentley, duetting on the song "Beautiful World".

In 2009, Griffin, along with Mavis Staples and The Tri-City Singers released a version of the song "Waiting for My Child to Come Home" on the compilation album Oh Happy Day: An All-Star Music Celebration.[9]

The collaboration with Staples led EMI's Peter York to suggest Griffin make an album of gospel songs. Griffin agreed on the condition that friend and bandmate Buddy Miller produced the record.[10] Griffin's sixth studio album, Downtown Church, was recorded at the Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville and was released on January 26, 2010.[11] The album features long-time friends Buddy and Julie Miller, as well as Shawn Colvin and Emmylou Harris. It features songs by Hank Williams, Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton, and "All Creatures of Our God and King," a song accredited to St. Francis of Assisi.[12]

In July 2010, Robert Plant toured the United States with Band of Joy (reprising the name of his band in the 1960s). Patty Griffin toured with them as a backing vocalist to Plant, along with singer-guitarist Buddy Miller, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Darrell Scott, bassist-vocalist Byron House, and drummer-percussionist-vocalist Marco Giovino. She is also featured on Plant's solo album, Band of Joy, which was released in September 2010 by Rounder Records.[13]

Griffin has recently parted with Plant after a long relationship; they lived together and divided their time between Austin, Texas and England.[14]

Film, television, and theater

In 1997, Griffin's song titled "Not Alone" from her first album, Living with Ghosts, was featured in the final scene and ending credits for the 1997 film, Niagara, Niagara, appeared on the 2009 soundtrack release for the television series, Without a Trace, and was sung at the end of NCIS, Season 10, episode 12, which aired on 01/15/13. "Not Alone" was also played at the end of Crossing Jordan, Season 1, Episode 6, entitled "Believers" (29 Oct. 2001). In 1997 her song titled "One Big Love" from the album "Flaming Red" was featured in the final scenes and credits of the film "Digging to China".

Griffin has appeared in several movies including Cremaster 2 and Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown, whose soundtrack included her song "Long Ride Home" and a cover of "Moon River" by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini.

In 2007, the Atlantic Theater Company produced 10 Million Miles, an Off Broadway musical, directed by Michael Mayer, with Griffin's music as the soundtrack.

Griffin's first DVD, Patty Griffin: Live From the Artists Den, was filmed on February 6, 2007 at the Angel Orensanz Foundation For the Arts on New York's Lower East Side and released later that year. Selections from the DVD were featured on the program Live from the Artists Den on Ovation TV, beginning January 24, 2008.

In 2007, Griffin was singled out by the Americana Music Association and awarded their top honor, Artist of the Year; her album Children Running Through also received an honor from the Association. She performed "Trapeze" with Emmylou Harris harmonizing.[15]

On June 13, 2008 Griffin performed an acoustic-in-the-round set in Nashville, Tennessee with Kris Kristofferson and Randy Owen (Alabama), for a special taping of a PBS songwriters series aired in December 2008. Each performer played five songs. In Griffin's case, it featured "Making Pies," "No Bad News," "Up to the Mountain," and "Mary."

In 2009, Griffin's song "Mary" was featured on Sons of Anarchy, season 2 episode 10.

In May 2013, Griffin's song "Heavenly Day" was featured prominently in a commercial for Chevy's new Volt line of automobile, entitled 'Volt: Silent Statement.'

In May 2015, the song "Go Wherever You Wanna Go" was featured in episode 22 of Supernatural, during the 10th season.

In 2006, her song Rain was featured in episode 17 of season 1 of Bones, called The Skull in the Desert.


Studio albums

Title Details Peak chart positions
US Christ

US Indie
US Rock
US Taste
Living with Ghosts
Flaming Red
  • Release date: June 23, 1998
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Formats: CD, cassette
1000 Kisses
  • Release date: April 9, 2002
  • Label: ATO Records
  • Formats: CD, cassette
Impossible Dream
  • Release date: April 20, 2004
  • Label: ATO Records
  • Formats: CD, music download
Children Running Through
  • Release date: February 6, 2007
  • Label: ATO Records
  • Formats: CD, music download
34 2 5
Downtown Church 38 1 1 7 8
American Kid 36 4 5 11 3
Silver Bell
  • Release date: October 8, 2013
  • Label: A&M Records, UMe
  • Formats: CD, LP, music download
64 5 22
Servant of Love
  • Release date: September 25, 2015
  • Label: Self-released / Thirty Tigers
  • Formats: CD, LP, music download
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Live albums

Title Details
A Kiss in Time
  • Release date: October 7, 2003
  • Label: ATO Records
  • Formats: CD, cassette
Patty Griffin: Live From the Artist's Den

Other contributions

  • Lilith Fair: A Celebration of Women in Music (1998) – "Cain" (recorded live during the 1997 tour)
  • Live at the World Café: Vol. 15 - Handcrafted (2002, World Café) – "Rain"
  • 107.1 KGSR Radio Austin – Broadcasts Vol.10 (2002) – "Rain"
  • Elizabethtown Soundtrack (2005, RCA Records) – "Long Ride Home", "Moon River"
  • Oh Happy Day (2009, EMI Gospel/Vector Recordings) – "Waiting for My Child To Come Home" (with Mavis Staples and The Tri-City Singers)
  • Live at the World Cafe: Vol. 5 (1997, World Cafe Records) – "Every Little Bit"
  • Live at the World Cafe: Vol. 16 – Sweet Sixteen (World Cafe Records) – "Makin' Pies"

Guest singles

Year Single Artist Peak positions Album
US Country
2009 "Seeing Stars" Jack Ingram 54 Big Dreams & High Hopes

Music videos

Year Video Director
1996 "Every Little Bit"
1998 "One Big Love"
2002 "Chief" Traci Goudie
2003 "Rain"
2004 "Love Throw a Line"
2009 "Beautiful World" (with Dierks Bentley)
2010 "Little Fire"
2013 "Ohio" Roy Taylor


  1. ^ Griffin, Patricia Fan website biography
  2. ^ Harris, Craig (accessed March 17, 2008) Billboard com
  3. ^ [3] (Retrieved on 04-13-07)
  4. ^ Votaw, Emily (July 31, 2013). "Patty Griffin's Lost 'Silver Bell' Album to Be Released in October".  
  5. ^ Bernard Zuel Patty Griffin Gig ReFairfax Digital February 16, 2008
  6. ^ Ellen Mallernee, Ellen Gibson Lifestyle article
  7. ^ Cole, Katherine (February 20, 2007). "Childhood Reflections Inspire Patty Griffin on Latest CD". VOA News (Voice of America). Retrieved January 1, 2009. 
  8. ^ Fretbase, Play Guitar Like Patty Griffin
  9. ^ """Jon Bon Jovi, Queen Latifah go gospel for "Day. Reuters. March 27, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Downtown Church Press Release". Big Hassle. December 7, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Patty Griffin – Downtown Church". Amazon. December 7, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Patty's Next Album: Downtown Church". Patty Central. December 7, 2009. 
  13. ^ Kreps, Daniel (March 26, 2010). "Robert Plant's New Band of Joy Plot Album, Summer Tour". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 10, 2010. 
  14. ^ [4]]
  15. ^ Shelburne, Craig (accessed March 14, 2008) CMT: Patty Griffin Wins Americanas Highest Honor
  16. ^ "Patty Griffin Album & Song Chart History – Billboard 200".  
  17. ^ "Patty Griffin Album & Song Chart History – Christian Albums".  
  18. ^ "Patty Griffin Album & Song Chart History – Folk Albums".  
  19. ^ "Patty Griffin Album & Song Chart History – Independent Albums".  
  20. ^ "Patty Griffin Album & Song Chart History – Rock Albums".  
  21. ^ "Patty Griffin Album & Song Chart History – Tastemaker Albums".  

External links

Preceded by
James McMurtry
AMA Album of the Year (artist)
Succeeded by
Alison Krauss & Robert Plant
Preceded by
Neil Young
AMA Artist of the Year
Succeeded by
Levon Helm
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