Folk music has always thrived because of its unique ability to incorporate new sounds and styles into well honed traditions of the past. Gillian Welch, a young singer/songwriter whose voice captures timeless mountain sounds filtered through a delicate modern sensibility, has made an indelible mark in this ever evolving folk music tradition. Her 1996 debut album Revival drew widespread acclaim for original songs that evoke haunting traditional ballads of rural Appalachia. Early American immigrants to the southern hills mixed new elements from their experience into age-old songs brought from Great Britain, just as Welch has brought her own unique stamp to the traditional styles that came before. Born in 1968 in California, Welch grew up in West Los Angeles, where her parents scored the music for The Carol Burnett Show. As a child she became fascinated by bluegrass and early country music, in particular the Stanley Brothers, the Delmore Brothers and the Carter Family.
Welch attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where she met her musical partner David Rawlings. The duo began performing traditional country and bluegrass songs and evolving a body of original material. They honed their musical chops in local open mike showcases, and soon began performing throughout the country. While opening for Peter Rowan in Nashville, they were spotted by musician and producer T-Bone Burnett, who helped Welch and Rawlings land a record deal and produced their debut album with the collaboration of seasoned session men like guitarist James Burton, upright bassist Roy Huskey, Jr., and drummers Buddy Harmon and Jim Keltner. Welch's sophomore album Hell Among the Yearlings followed in 1998, and her latest record, Time (The Revelator) was released in 2001. She also performed on Avalon Blues, a tribute record to country blues musician Mississippi John Hurt.
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