Patty Griffin

Patty Griffin

Griffin performing at Sound Stage in Central Park, New York, Sept. 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

Patricia Jean "Patty" Griffin (born March 16, 1964) is an American singer-songwriter and musician.[1] She is an accomplished vocalist and plays guitar and piano. She is known for her stripped-down songwriting style in the folk music genre. Her songs have been covered by numerous musicians, including Emmylou Harris, Ellis Paul, Rory Block, Dave Hause, and the Dixie Chicks.

In 2007, Griffin received the Artist of the Year award from the Americana Music Association, and her album Children Running Through won the award for Best Album.

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


Griffin is from Old Town, Maine, United States, next to the Penobscot Native American reservation. 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 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, which signed her on the strength of her demo tape. When the finished studio recordings were submitted to A&M, the company executives thought it was overproduced, so producer Nile Rodgers and A&M instead released a stripped-down reworking of her demo tape as the album Living with Ghosts.[2]

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

Her third album, Silver Bell, has a sound similar to its predecessor. It was released by A&M in 2013, 13 years after it was recorded (and well after bootlegged copies had been circulated). A&M dropped Griffin's contract after Silver Bell was recorded, and she was then signed by Dave Matthews's 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". Copies of the unreleased Silver Bell were leaked and bootlegged and can be easily acquired by the B&P (blanks and postage) method on message boards.[3] In August 2013, it was announced that UMe planned to release Silver Bell, mixed by producer Glyn Johns, in October 2013.[4]

Four albums followed on ATO: 1000 Kisses (2002), 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 number 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.[7]

Griffin's songs have been recorded by numerous artists, including the 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", "Mary"), Bette Midler, Melissa Ferrick and Missy Higgins ("Moses"), Beth Nielsen Chapman, Christine Collister, and 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 number 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 in episode 11 of the fourth season of the ABC television show Grey's Anatomy.

Instruments, effects, and sound

Recent work

Griffin performing at the North Carolina Museum of Art in 2006

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

Griffin performs "Up To the Mountain" at the Carter Reception Dinner during the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library in 2014

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] The album, Downtown Church (her sixth studio album), recorded at the Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville, was released on January 26, 2010.[11] The album, featuring Shawn Colvin, Emmylou Harris, and Griffin's long-time friends Buddy and Julie Miller, contains songs by Hank Williams, Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton, and "All Creatures of Our God and King" (credited 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), with Griffin as a backing vocalist and 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, released in September 2010 by Rounder Records.[13]

In 2014 Griffin parted with Plant after a long relationship; they had lived together and divided their time between Austin, Texas, and England.[14]

Film, television, and theater

In 1997, Griffin's song "Not Alone", from the album Living with Ghosts, was used in the final scene and ending credits for the 1997 film Niagara, Niagara. It was also used at the end of episode 6 ("Believers") of season 1 of the television series Crossing Jordan, broadcast on October 29, 2001; on the 2009 release of the soundtrack from the television series Without a Trace; and at the end of episode 12 of season 10 of the television series NCIS, which aired on January 15, 2013.

In 1997 her song "One Big Love", from the album Flaming Red, was used in the final scenes and credits of the film Digging to China.

The 2006 film Griffin and Phoenix included "Nobody's Crying" and "Rain."

Griffin has appeared in several movies, including Cremaster 2 and Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown, the soundtrack of which includes 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 music and lyrics by Griffin.

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 named Artist of the Year by the Americana Music Association, the top honor bestowed by the association, and her album Children Running Through was selected as Best Album. At the awards ceremony she performed "Trapeze" with Emmylou Harris harmonizing.[15]

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

In 2009, her song "Mary" was used in episode 10 of season 2 of Sons of Anarchy.

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

In May 2015, her song "Go Wherever You Wanna Go" was used in episode 22 of season 10 of the television series Supernatural.

In 2006, her song "Rain" was used in episode 17 ("The Skull in the Desert") of season 1 of the television series Bones.


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 25
Servant of Love
  • Release date: September 25, 2015
  • Label: Self-released / Thirty Tigers
  • Formats: CD, LP, music download
68 3 8 15 13
"—" 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
  • Release date: September 9, 2008
  • Label: Artists Den Records
  • Formats: Music download, DVD

Other contributions

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

Awards and Nominations

Year Association Category Nominated Work Result
2003 Grammy Awards Best Contemporary Folk Album 1000 Kisses Nominated
2003 Americana Music Association Song of the Year "Truth #2" (as songwriter) Nominated
2005 Grammy Awards Best Contemporary Folk Album Impossible Dream Nominated
2007 Americana Music Association Album of the Year Children Running Through Won
2007 Americana Music Association Song of the Year "Heavenly Day" Nominated
2007 Americana Music Association Artist of the Year Patty Griffin Won
2008 Grammy Awards Best Contemporary Folk Album Children Running Through Nominated
2010 Dove Awards Special Event Album of the Year Oh Happy Day with various artistsNominated
2010 Americana Music Association Album of the Year Ohio Nominated
2010 Americana Music Association Artist of the Year Patty Griffin Nominated
2010 Academy of Country Music Vocal Event of the Year "Seeing Stars" with Jack IngramNominated
2010 Grammy Awards Best Gospel Album Oh Happy Day with various artists Won
2010 Grammy Awards Best Country Collaboration with Vocals "Beautiful World" with Dierks Bentley Nominated
2011 Grammy Awards Best Traditional Gospel Album Downtown Church Won
2011 Dove Awards Inspirational Album of the Year Downtown Church Won
2014 Americana Music Association Song the Year "Ohio" with Robert PlantNominated
2016 Grammy Awards Best Contemporary Folk Album Servant of Love Nominated


  1. Griffin, Patricia Fan website biography
  2. Harris, Craig (accessed March 17, 2008) Billboard com
  3. (Retrieved on 04-13-07)
  4. Votaw, Emily (July 31, 2013). "Patty Griffin's Lost 'Silver Bell' Album to Be Released in October". Billboard. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  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. "First Listen: Robert Plant, "Lullaby and... the Ceaseless Roar"". NPR. September 11, 2014.
  15. Shelburne, Craig (accessed March 14, 2008) CMT: Patty Griffin Wins Americanas Highest Honor
  16. "Patty Griffin Album & Song Chart History – Billboard 200". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  17. "Patty Griffin Album & Song Chart History – Christian Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  18. "Patty Griffin Album & Song Chart History – Folk Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  19. "Patty Griffin Album & Song Chart History – Independent Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  20. "Patty Griffin Album & Song Chart History – Rock Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  21. "Patty Griffin Album & Song Chart History – Tastemaker Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Patty Griffin.
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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