Nanci Griffith, a Grammy-winning singer and songwriter who kept one foot in folk and the other in country and was blessed with a soaring voice equally at home in both genres, died on Friday. She was 68.
Her death was announced by her management company, Gold Mountain Entertainment. Its statement did not say where she died or give a cause of death, saying only, “It was Nanci’s wish that no further formal statement or press release happen for a week following her passing.”
While Ms. Griffith often wrote political and confessional material, her best-loved songs were closely observed tales of small-town life, sometimes with painful details in the lyrics, but typically sung with a deceptive prettiness.
She was as well known for her covers of other artists’ works as her original material. Her take on Townes Van Zandt’s “Tecumseh Valley” is stunning.
She told The New York Times in 1988: “When I was young I listened to Odetta records for hours and hours. Then when I started high school, Loretta Lynn came along. Before that, country music hadn’t had a guitar-playing woman who wrote her own songs.”
One of my favorite songs of hers was a roundabout tribute to Loretta Lynn, “Listen To The Radio”. Here’s a live version: