Lucinda Williams (born January 26, 1953) is an American rock, folk, blues and country music singer and songwriter.
By her early 20s, Williams was playing publicly in Austin and Houston, Texas, concentrating on a folk-rock-country blend. She moved to Jackson, Mississippi, in 1978 to record her first album, for Smithsonian/Folkways Records. Titled “Ramblin',” it was a collection of country and blues covers. She followed it up in 1980 with “Happy Woman Blues,” which consisted of her own material. Neither album received much attention.
In the 1980s, Williams moved to Los Angeles, California, where, both backed by a rock band and performing in acoustic settings, she developed a following and a critical reputation.
In 1988 Rough Trade Records released the self-titled “Lucinda Williams,” which was produced by Gurf Morlix. The single "Changed the Locks," about a broken relationship, received radio play around the country and gained fans among music insiders, including Tom Petty, who would later cover the song. Its follow-up, 1992’s “Sweet Old World,” also produced by Morlix, was a melancholy album dealing with themes of suicide and death.
Williams' biggest success during the early 1990s was as a songwriter. Mary Chapin Carpenter recorded a cover of "Passionate Kisses" (from “Lucinda Williams”) in 1992, and the song became a smash country hit for which Williams received the Grammy Award for Best Country Song in 1994 (Chapin also received a Grammy for her performance of the song). She sang a duet with Steve Earle on the song, "You're Still Standin' There" on his album “I Feel Alright.” In 1991, the song "Lucinda Williams" appeared on Vic Chesnutt's album “West of Rome.”
Williams had garnered considerable critical acclaim, but her commercial success was moderate. Emmylou Harris recorded the title track from Williams's “Sweet Old World” for her career-redefining 1995 album, “Wrecking Ball.”
The long-awaited release, 1998's “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road,” was Williams' breakthrough into the mainstream and received a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Featuring the single "Still I Long for Your Kiss" from the Robert Redford film “The Horse Whisperer,” the album received wide critical notice and soon went gold. The single "Can't Let Go" also enjoyed considerable crossover radio play.
In 1999, Williams appeared on “Return of the Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons,” duetting with David Crosby on the title track of the tribute album.
Williams followed up the success of “Car Wheels” with 2001’s “Essence” 2001. This release featured a less produced, more down-tuned approach both musically and lyrically, and moved Williams further from the country music establishment while winning fans in the alternative music world. She won the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for the single "Get Right With God," an atypically uptempo gospel-rock tune from the otherwise rather low-key release. The title track includes a contribution on Hammond organ by musician Ryan Adams.
Her seventh album, “World Without Tears,” was released in 2003. A musically adventurous though lyrically downbeat album, this release found Williams experimenting with talking blues stylings and electric blues.
In 2006, Williams recorded a version of the John Hartford classic "Gentle On My Mind," which played over the closing credits of the Will Ferrell film “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.”
Williams was a guest vocalist on the song "Factory Girls" from Irish punk-folk band Flogging Molly's 2004 album, "Within a Mile of Home," and appeared on Elvis Costello's “The Delivery Man.” She sings with folk legend Ramblin' Jack Elliott on the track "Careless Darling" from his 2006 release "I Stand Alone."
In 2007, Williams released “West,” for which she wrote more than 27 songs. The album was released on February 2007. It addresses her mother's death and a tumultuous relationship break-up.
“Little Honey” was released in October 2008 and debuted at #9 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, thereby becoming her first Top 10 album. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Americana Album.
Williams released a cover of Shel Silverstein's famous song "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan" in June 2010 as part of the “Twistable, Turnable Man” tribute album.
Her song "Kiss Like Your Kiss" which appeared on the television program “True Blood” received a Grammy Award nomination in 2011 for Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media.
She released “Blessed” in March 2011 and it debuted at #15 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, marking her fourth album to reach the Top 20. "Buttercup" was released as the album’s first single.
Her recent concert appearance at the Catalyst nightclub in Santa Cruz contained an announcement by the city's mayor that September 6 would henceforth be “Lucinda Williams Day” in the city.