Patty Griffin, Before Anyone Had Heard of Her

A rare recording of the Grammy-winning singer from back when she hadn't even released a single album
More
Patty Griffin performs at the 2012 Newport Folk Festival. (AP)

This article is the fourth in a series featuring clips from the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, which is working to digitize television and radio pieces so that they may be preserved for years to come. For more about the project, see our introduction to the series, where you'll also find a handy list of all the series' pieces so far.


When people think about public radio, the first thing that comes to mind is likely its reputation for high-quality news coverage. But public radio has also been an important home for the arts, discovering obscure musicians and bringing their work to a greater audience.

We are treated to one example of that work in the clip below, an excerpt from an interview with and performance by Patty Griffin in 1994, before Griffin had even released a single album. In the years since, she has recorded eight studio albums, two live albums, and won a Grammy and many other prestigious awards. But at the time, when this aired on Boston's WUMB, she was virtually unknown. According to WUMB announcer Dave Palmater, Griffin had only a six-song demo cassette back then, and one of the songs didn't even play properly because of duplication problems.

"Live, in studio interviews have always been an important part of our service," Palmater told me. "Speaking only for myself, I think it allows the listen to get closer to the artist, learn more about them and perhaps even the creative process."

Often, Palmater says, during such segments, musicians will play songs that never get recorded or are seldom played in concerts. For fans, these recordings can provide a rare glimpse of an artist's early evolution.

According to Palmater, "The same year [Griffin] did her first interview on WUMB she went on to win the short-lived but prestigious Acoustic Underground competition, and the rest, as they say …"

Jump to comments
Presented by

Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Do People Love Times Square?

A filmmaker asks New Yorkers and tourists about the allure of Broadway's iconic plaza


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Do People Love Times Square?

A filmmaker asks New Yorkers and tourists about the allure of Broadway's iconic plaza

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In