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Tift Merritt Biography

Home > Music > M > Merritt, Tift > Biography

Born: 1975/01/08
Birth Place: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States
Years Active: 1998–present
Genres: Folk, Rock

Tift Merritt (born January 8, 1975) is an American singer-songwriter, musician and North Carolina native.

Merritt began her professional career with her band The Carbines playing small clubs in Chapel Hill and Raleigh. In 1998, The Carbines released a 7-inch single “Jukejoint Girl” b/w “Cowboy.” In 1999, Merritt made a guest appearance on a seven-song EP with Two Dollar Pistols, led by John Howie, Jr. The record was called “The Two Dollar Pistols with Tift Merritt.” In 2000, she won MerleFest's Chris Austin Songwriting Contest and signed a contract with Lost Highway Records.

In 2002, Merritt released her debut album, “Bramble Rose,” containing 11 original songs recorded with her long-time band and produced by Ethan Johns. The album reached #47 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. A song from the album, “Trouble Over Me,” was featured in writer Nick Hornby's book “31 Songs.”

Her follow-up release, 2004's “Tambourine,” was produced by George Drakoulias and featured backing by Benmont Tench, Mike Campbell (of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), Neal Casal and Don Heffington (of Emmylou Harris's Hot Band and Lone Justice). “Tambourine” was honored with a 2004 Grammy Award for Best Country Album nomination and reached #21 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart.

During the tour to promote “Tambourine,” Merritt opened for Elvis Costello and recorded “Austin City Limits” – a performance later released as a DVD by New West Records. The sold-out homecoming concert for the tour – at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, North Carolina – was recorded for a live album, “Home Is Loud,” released in 2005.

After extensive touring behind “Tambourine,” Merritt rented an apartment in Paris, where she wrote the songs that would become 2008's “Another Country” LP. Released on Fantasy Records, “Another Country” featured the core of Merritt's long-time band, along with guitarist Charlie Sexton (Bob Dylan), and again with Drakoulias at the helm. It reached #1 on the Heatseekers Albums chart and #156 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. The song “Broken” from the album was nominated for an Americana Music Award for Song of the Year.

“Buckingham Solo,” recorded in England, was an intimate acoustic solo concert recording made during the “Another Country” tour, and released on the Fantasy label in 2009. Merritt recorded the follow-up to “Another Country” in Durham with producer Tucker Martine. The album, “See You On The Moon,” was issued in 2010 on Fantasy Records and reached #7 on the Billboard Folk Albums chart. My Morning Jacket frontman Yim Yames (Jim James) was featured on the track “Feel of the World.”

Merritt’s fifth full-length album, “Travelling Alone,” was issued on the Yep Roc label in 2012. Guest artists appearing on the record included Andrew Bird, Calexico drummer John Convertino, guitarist Marc Ribot and steel guitarist Eric Heywood. It was again produced by Tucker Martine.