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Nanci Griffith, Grammy-winning folk singer-songwriter, dies at 68

Nanci Griffith performs during the ACLU Freedom Concert in New York in 2004. (Julie Jacobson/AP)
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Nanci Griffith, the Grammy-winning folk singer-songwriter from Texas whose literary songs like “Love at the Five and Dime” celebrated the South, has died. She was 68.

Her management company, Gold Mountain Entertainment, said Ms. Griffith died Aug. 13 but did not provide a cause of death.

“It was Nanci’s wish that no further formal statement or press release happen for a week following her passing,” Gold Mountain Entertainment said in a statement.

Ms. Griffith worked closely with other folk singers, helping the early careers of artists such as Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris. She had a high-pitched voice, and her singing was effortlessly smooth with a twangy Texas accent as she sang about Dust Bowl farmers and empty Woolworth general stores.

Ms. Griffith was also known for her recording of “From a Distance,” which would later become a popular Bette Midler tune. The song appeared on Ms. Griffith’s first major label release, “Lone Star State of Mind” in 1987.

Her 1993 album “Other Voices, Other Rooms,” earned a Grammy for best contemporary folk album. Named after a Truman Capote novel, the album features Ms. Griffith singing with Harris, John Prine, Arlo Guthrie and Guy Clark on classic folk songs.

Nanci Caroline Griffith was born in Seguin, Tex., on July 6, 1953, and had her first paid gig in her teens.

In keeping with the tradition of folk music, she often wrote social commentary into her songs, such as the anti-racist ode “It’s a Hard Life Wherever You Go.” “Trouble in the Fields” addressed the economic impact on rural farmers in the 1980s.

“I wrote it because my family were farmers in West Texas during the Great Depression,” Ms. Griffith told the Los Angeles Times in a 1990 interview. “It was written basically as a show of support for my generation of farmers.”

Ms. Griffith gained many fans in Ireland and Northern Ireland, where she would often tour. In 2008, she won the Lifetime Achievement Trailblazer Award from the Americana Music Association.

A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.

— Associated Press

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