Music Mondays: Tift Merritt


Despite the fact that she was raised on a steady diet of Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, Joni Mitchell, Emmylou Harris as well as Carole King and learned to play the guitar as a teenager, Tift Merritt actually initially set out to be a writer. She even studied creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Perhaps her writing background explains her almost uncanny ability to transport and envelope listeners through song. “Colors” is a collaborative effort with classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein off the duo’s album, Night. The lyrics tell a story full of optimism and introspection accompanied by Simone’s rather eye-catching piano playing method.

Tift was born in Houston, Texas, but spent the majority of her childhood in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her father experimented with playing folk music in his younger days and taught her to play the guitar. Tift played a variety of local gigs after high school and then moved to New York City before her mother convinced her to return to North Carolina and enroll in college. She studied creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she met her drummer and husband, Zeke Hutchins. They formed a band called the Carbines and started shopping demos. It wasn’t until Ryan Adams, a fellow North Carolina native, introduced Tift to his manager that she caught her big break with Lost Highway Records. The singer/songwriter’s debut album, Bramble Rose, came out in 2002 and was followed by the Grammy-nominated Tambourine in 2004. After the release of her sophomore album, Tift headed to Paris to decompress, but ended up finding the inspiration to craft her third offering, Another Country. Tift has put out two albums since last year, Traveling Alone and the collaborative Night. This well-traveled, self-identified Southerner even hosts a public radio broadcast and podcast called, The Spark with Tift Merritt, where she talks to fellow artists about their craft. What we really love about Tift and her music is the fact that both are basically undefinable. She successfully manages to merge country and folk influences, all while incorporating her own unique brand of soul.

Watch Tift’s video for “Colors” below before heading over to I AM THAT GIRL’s YouTube channel. While you’re there, don’t forget to tune into our Music Mondays playlist, which is updated every week.

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