Tift Merritt's Biography
Tift Merritt is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and recording artist. She has released two studio albums on the Lost Highway label--Bramble Rose (2002) and Tambourine (2004); and in 2005 she released Home Is Loud, a limited-edition live album recorded with her faithful touring band. Her third studio album, Another Country, was released February 2008 on the Fantasy label. A live solo album, Buckingham Solo, recorded in England, came out on Fantasy in April 2009.
Tift quickly garnered high critical acclaim from Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Time, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio and CNN. Her first two records landed on The New Yorker’s Top Ten List. Tift’s TV appearances include Austin City Limits (a DVD of that concert was released by New West in 2007), The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with David Letterman. Tambourine was Grammy-nominated for Best Country Album, and the Americana Music Association nominated Tift for 2004 Album, Artist and Song of the Year. She and her band traveled 40,000 miles in 11 countries to support Tambourine. As that exhausting tour was winding down, Tift ran away to Paris and, without intending to, started writing the songs that would become Another Country. Lost Highway did not renew her contract in 2006, but she landed herself a new deal with Fantasy--one of the premier jazz labels and also the home of Creedence Clearwater Revival and John Fogerty--and recorded Another Country in the summer of 2007 with her longtime sidemen Zeke Hutchins, Jay Brown, and Danny Eisenberg, along with guitar maestros Charlie Sexton and Doug Pettibone. "Broken," the first single from Another Country, parked itself at #1 on the Americana Airplay Chart for weeks, and was nominated for Song of the Year by the Americana Music Association. Another Country ended the year as the 5th most played Americana album of 2008, and wound up on best-of-year lists from Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, No Depression, AllMusic, and Country Standard Time. The Another Country tour ran for most of 2008, after which Tift concentrated on solo acoustic performances. Her solo tour, punctuated by occasional band shows, continues into the summer of 2009.
Tift Merritt was born on 8 January 1975 in Houston. When she was two her family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where Tift grew up. Her father taught her “the only chords you need to know,” and his Bob Dylan and Dolly Parton records were part of her childhood. After high school she waited tables, gigged around North Carolina, went to New York City, and at her mother’s urging came back to North Carolina to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While in college she met Zeke Hutchins, who encouraged her to start a band and has been her drummer ever since. Tift sent out demo 45s and press kits to every club she could from her P.O. box at the Bynum General Store, and she and the band drove all over North Carolina in their old van. With help from her friend and fellow North Carolina musician Ryan Adams, she got her first management deal and record contract, and her debut album Bramble Rose was released by Lost Highway on 4 June 2002.
Tift Merritt’s music defies categorization. Her uniquely satisfying stew of rock and roll, soul, folk and country has record stores scratching their heads and audiences dancing in the aisles and telling their friends. There’s food for thought there, too—Tift knew she wanted to be a writer before she knew she wanted to be a musician, and her lyrics are carefully and finely crafted.
In 2008, Tift and Marfa Public Radio in Marfa, Texas launched The Spark with Tift Merritt, a monthly radio interview show in which Tift asks the artists who inspire her to talk about how and why they create what they do. The resulting conversations make for an intimate and in-depth insight into the realities of being an artist. Thirteen episodes have been broadcast as of June 2009, and the episodes are available for streaming at www.marfaspark.com and a free podcast is available on iTunes.
For the time being, Tift is living in New York City with her husband Zeke, and on the road.
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