Singer/songwriter Gillian Welch was exposed to music at an early age, but she truly began honing her craft while attending the Berklee College of Music, after earning a degree in photography from UC Santa Cruz.
Welch studied songwriting at Berklee, relocating to Nashville after graduating in 1992. Her partner David Rawlings joined her soon thereafter and they began performing as a duo, though they used her name.
Their minimalist blends of folk, traditional country, bluegrass and other roots-related music caught producer T Bone Burnett’s attention. He worked with them on Welch’s debut 1996 album Revival, which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
In 2000, the tables turned and Welch worked with Burnett as associate producer on his soundtrack for the Cohen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou? She also sang two songs on the album, which won the ACM Award for Country Album of the Year.
Building on the commercial and critical success of the film’s music, Welch participated in the documentary and live concert film Down from the Mountain. It brought together the artists who sang on the soundtrack.
Welch and Rawlings released their third album Time (The Revelator) in 2001. Again, they were nominated for Best Contemporary Folk Album at the Grammys. Welch went on to release two more albums, 2003’s Soul Journey and, after an eight-year gap, 2011’s The Harrow & the Harvest.
After several nominations with no wins, Gillian Welch finally took home the Grammy Award for Folk Album of the Year in 2021, for their 2020 album All the Good Times (Are Past and Gone).