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Patty Griffin Biography

Last updated: 06/16/2013 02:55:47 PM

Patty Jean Griffin was born in Old Town, Maine on March 16th, 1964. As the youngest of seven children-three boys and four girls- Patty grew up in a house filled with music. Her mother would sing as she did housework, and her grandmother's family used to sit out on the porch, harmonizing until the sun went down.

Patty's parents discouraged her from going into a career in music. They felt that musicians were too often disappointed. Her father was a physics/chemistry teacher at the high school, and her mother stayed home to take care of the family. One year for Patty's birthday her father bought her Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Patty loved it. Her interest in Bruce Springsteen and Ricki Lee Jones soon followed.

When Patty was in high school, she had a poem named Katydid published in the school yearbook. At sixteen, Patty had bought herself a fifty dollar guitar and began writing music. She didn't know that she actually had any singing ability- she just knew that she loved music. After graduation Patty moved to Florida for a couple of years. She put aside her music and instead pursued athletic goals. Patty began cycling frequently and felt that it taught her self-discipline. After two years, Patty got married, moved to Boston, and became a waitress. She still wrote poetry and played her guitar, but gave no more thought to the idea of becoming a singer.

Patty became divorced at the end of 1992. She suddenly had freedom and started looking back over her life. Patty had always considered herself a better singer than a writer, but when she looked back at all the work she'd done she changed her mind and decided to try singing again. She began singing in small clubs in Boston and Cambridge. Word of her talent began to spread. she recorded an over-produced demo tape which made it into the hands of a talent scout. The scout encouraged her to re-record the demo, using just her voice and her guitar. The new demo scored Patty a recording contract with A&M just six months later, In 1994. A&M loved her new demo so much, they released it (with the addition of a few more sparse tracks) in 1996 as her debut album, Living With Ghosts.

Living With Ghosts was beautifully emotional and poetic. Patty began to tour a little more, and was highly supported by a few Boston based radio stations. She opened for major artists like Bonnie Raitt, Jewel, Jackson Browne, and Emmylou Harris. Realizing that she needed to live where she could be surrounded by the music scene, Patty moved to Nashville. There Reba McIntyre recorded one of her songs, Up and Flying, and put it on her new CD. Patty began work on her next album as her critical acclaim grew. She even joined the Lilith Fair tour for two consecutive years.

Patty's next album, Flaming Red, was produced by Jay Joyce. She began recording with a full band, even re-vamping old songs and giving them different flavors and textures. Patty wanted the album to reflect her eclectic taste in music. She even wanted to evoke confusion, and she has never given a straight answer to the question, "What does Big Daddy mean?"

Patty released Flaming Red in the spring of 1998. While the album was quite a shock for most of her old fans, it eventually grew on them and the began enjoying her new style. This time, Patty took her band out on tour. Despite problems with being drowned out by the band, Patty still rocked with amazing new songs like Little God that never would have worked on just the acoustic guitar.

Management decided to start revealing Patty to the world in 1999. She appeared on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, The Late Late Show with Craig Kilbourne, and The Late Show with David Letterman. Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt recorded Falling Down on their duet album.The Dixie Chicks are recording Let Him Fly for their new album, and Martina McBride will be covering Goodbye. In addition, Bette Midler recently began singing Mary as part of her stage show. Patty recorded an episode of Sessions on West 54th St. in October, which will hopefully air in early 2000.Even though Patty recently moved to Austin Texas, she is still a regular on the Nashville and Boston music scenes.