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In 2011, Griffin's album titled 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. She is primarily a guitarist, pianist, and vocalist. 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 at the time 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, who signed Griffin on the strength of her demo tape. When the finished studio recordings were submitted to A&M, the company execs thought it to be overproduced, so Nile Rodgers and A&M instead released a stripped-down reworking of her demo tape, as an album called Living with Ghosts.
Griffin's second album, 1998's Flaming Red was a departure from the acoustic sound of Living with Ghosts, with a mix of mellow songs along with other, very high tempo rock and roll songs. The title track, "Flaming Red" is an example of this, beginning with an even beat until it increases to a fevered pitch of emotion. "Tony" from this album is also featured on the charity benefit album Live in the X Lounge.
Her third record, Silver Bell, had a similar sound to its predecessor. It was released by A&M only 13 years after it was recorded (and well after it leaked into the public domain). A&M dropped Griffin's contract after Silver Bell was recorded, but she was picked up by Dave Matthews' 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" and others have been most famously covered by the Dixie Chicks. Copies of the unreleased Silver Bell were leaked and bootlegged, and can now be easily acquired via the "B&P" (Blanks and Postage) method on message boards. In August 2013, it was announced UM planned to release Silver Bell in October 2013 and producer Glyn Johns had mixed the album for the new release.
Four albums followed on ATO, including 2002's 1000 Kisses, 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 #34 on the Billboard 200 with 27,000 copies sold. 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." It was also said that the album was inspired by her childhood days.
INSTRUMENTS, EFECTS AND SOUNd
In September 2008, Griffin was featured on the album Simple Times by indie artist Joshua Radin, duetting on the song "You Got Growing Up to Do." In October 2008, she appeared in background vocals on Todd Snider's cover of John Fogerty's "Fortunate Son" for Snider's Peace Queer album. In February 2009, Griffin was featured on the album Feel That Fire by Dierks Bentley, duetting 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.
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. Griffin's sixth studio album, Downtown Church, was recorded at the Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville and was released on January 26, 2010. The album features long-time friends Buddy and Julie Miller, as well as Shawn Colvin and Emmylou Harris. It features songs byHank Williams, Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton, and "All Creatures of Our God and King," a song accredited to St. Francis of Assisi.
In July 2010, Robert Plant toured the United States with Band of Joy (reprising the name of his band in the 1960s). Patty Griffin toured with them as a backing vocalist to Plant, along with 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, which was released in September 2010 by Rounder Records.
In 2014 Griffin parted with Plant after a long relationship; they lived together and divided their time between Austin, Texas and EnglandFILM, TELEVISION, AND THEATER
In 1997, Griffin's song titled "Not Alone" from her first album, Living with Ghosts, was featured in the final scene and ending credits for the 1997 film, Niagara, Niagara, appeared on the 2009 soundtrack release for the television series, Without a Trace, and was sung at the end of NCIS, Season 10, episode 12, which aired on 01/15/13. "Not Alone" was also played at the end of Crossing Jordan, Season 1, Episode 6, entitled "Believers" (29 Oct. 2001). In 1997 her song titled "One Big Love" from the album Flaming Red was featured in the final scenes and credits of the film Digging to China.
Griffin has appeared in several movies including Cremaster 2 and Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown, whose soundtrack included 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 Griffin's music as the soundtrack.
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 singled out by the Americana Music Association and awarded their top honor, Artist of the Year; her album Children Running Through also received an honor from the Association. She performed "Trapeze" with Emmylou Harris harmonizing.
On June 13, 2008 Griffin performed an acoustic-in-the-round set in Nashville, Tennessee with Kris Kristofferson and Randy Owen (Alabama), for a special taping of a PBS songwriters series aired in December 2008. Each performer played five songs. In Griffin's case, it featured "Making Pies," "No Bad News," "Up to the Mountain," and "Mary."