She was a singer-songwriter and guitarist born Nanci Caroline Griffith in Austin, Texas, to a family where her father was in a barbershop quartet and her mother was an actress on an amateur basis.
She started her journey into a musical career when she began learning the guitar at six years old and performing at fourteen. She took her further studies at the University of Texas where she graduated with a degree in education, and although she was a kindergarten teacher in the mid-’70s, she chose to follow the path of music.
She married the singer-songwriter Eric Taylor in 1976, they would later divorce in 1982, and in 1978 she released her debut album There’s a Light Beyond These Woods. Releasing several singles, that entered the country charts, she was the first artist to record “From a Distance” in 1988, later sung by Bette Midler.
During the course of her busy career she appeared with many artists either on her own recordings or those of others and has worked with Rod Argent, Tony Brown, The Crickets, Phil Everly, Bela Fleck, James Hooker, Andrew Jackman, Bernie Leadon, the London Symphony Orchestra, Lyle Lovett, Don McLean, Willie Nelson, Mark O’Connor, John Prine, Tanita Tikaram and Peter Van Hook to name a few.
Regularly making recordings she can be heard on her Grammy Award winning Other Voices, Other Rooms the Grammy Award nominated Last of the True Believers plus others such as Flyer, Late Night Grande Hotel, Little Love Affairs, Lone Star State of Mind, One Fair Summer Evening and Storms as well as License to Chill by Jimmy Buffett , Chieftains Celebration by The Chieftains, Dublin Blues by Guy Clark, Fairweather Johnson by Hootie & The Blowfish and the soundtrack of Annabelle’s Wish, Falling from Grace, Party of Five and Songs and Artists that Inspired Fahrenheit 911.
As a songwriter she saw further success with hits such as “Love at the Five and Dime” sung by Kathy Mattea and “Outbound Plane” sung by Suzy Bogguss, which she wrote with Tom Russell.
In 1996 she discovered she had breast cancer and in 1998 thyroid cancer, but she beat them both and the 2000s saw her visiting Cambodia and Vietnam with Sheryl Crow and later Kosovo and Angola. She didn’t stop recording material either and released albums such as the 2002 Winter Marquee the 2003 Hearts in Mind and the 2006 Ruby’s Torch. She sang then with her band Blue Moon Orchestra who accompanied her from 1986. In 2008 she was presented with the Americana Trailblazer Award by the Americana Music Association.
After suffering from writer’s block for many years she released The Loving Kind in 2009 and Intersections in 2012.
She passed away in August 2021 in Nashville when she was 68 years old.
Here she is performing “Across the Great Divide”….