Claire Lynch

Grammy nominee and IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year Claire Lynch has long been at the forefront of women pushing bluegrass boundaries. Her soulful songs have been recorded by Patty Loveless and Kathy Mattea and others. This stellar ensemble delivers a personable, high energy performance including tender country ballads, hard driving bluegrass and swing.


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Touring Formats: Quartet, Trio and Duo

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Long recognized and praised as a creative force in acoustic music, Claire Lynch is a pioneer who continually pushes the boundaries of the bluegrass genre. Her career has been decorated with many accolades including three GRAMMY nominations, seven International Bluegrass Music Association awards and the prestigious United States Artists Walker Fellowship.

Dolly Parton credits Claire with “one of the sweetest, purest and best lead voices in the music business today.” Her harmonies have graced the recordings of many stellar musicians. Equally gifted as a writer, her songs have been recorded by The Seldom Scene, Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea, Cherryholmes, The Whites and others.

Blazing her own trail in the mid 70’s when there were few role models for young women in the genre, Claire Lynch made history when she led the Front Porch String Band which evolved in the 80’s and 90’s into “one of the sharpest and most exciting post-modern bluegrass bands on the circuit.” She formed her own Claire Lynch Band in 2005 and has since consistently been a top pick of prestigious publications, critics and audiences across the U.S. and beyond.

Claire grew up in Kingston, New York until the age of 12 when her family moved to Huntsville, Alabama. There she began her education in country music and got caught up in the Bluegrass revival of the 1970’s, joining a band called Hickory Wind. Later, the band changed its name to the Front Porch String Band with Claire’s vocals as its centerpiece.

In 1981, after their first nationally released recording, the group retired from the road and Claire pursued dual careers in addition to raising a family, spending seven years as a staff writer at two of the most prestigious publishing houses on Music Row in Nashville. At the same time, she became a much-sought-after session vocalist.

In 1991, the Front Porch String Band was resurrected with the album Lines and Traces on Rebel Records – a move that ultimately led to the launching of Claire’s solo career in earnest. Friends for a Lifetime was released on Rounder Records in 1993 followed by Moonlighter in 1995 (Claire’s first GRAMMY nomination) and Silver and Gold in 1997 (also nominated for GRAMMY glory). She was named the IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year in 1997 and enjoyed many chart successes. The band kicked off the new millennium with the album Love Light in 2000. At that time Claire took what she thought would be a full-fledged break from music, stepping away from the grind of daily touring. She wasn’t sure when – or if – she would return. “I hadn’t planned to come back… One day I opened my catalog of songs and realized that I’d written my life,” she said.

Slowly, the lure of music worked its way back. She sang harmony on The Grass is Blue and Little Sparrow which led to promotional touring as backup vocalist for Dolly Parton. She graced albums by other artists with her background vocals including Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Pam Tillis, Alison Brown, Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea and Ralph Stanley. Today, the impressive list of other guest appearances continues including spots on albums by Donna the Buffalo, Sara Watkins, The Infamous Stringdusters, the Gibson Brothers, Jonathan Edwards, Jesse Winchester, The Special Consensus and Kristin Scott Benson.

In 2005, Lynch struck out on her own, forming the Claire Lynch Band and releasing the aptly named New Day CD. It was a hit on the bluegrass charts and earned her IBMA nominations for “Song of the Year” and “Female Vocalist of the Year.” In 2007, Rounder Records featured a brilliant catalog of music from her previous five albums and titled the anthology collection, Crowd Favorites. More IBMA nominations followed as well as an induction into the Alabama Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.

Whatcha Gonna Do, Claire’s next release (2009), was called “a stripped-down production with sumptuous acoustic atmospheres showcasing…the instrumental brilliance of her four-piece band.“ After a busy touring schedule in 2010, she received three IBMA nominations including “Song of the Year” and “Recorded Event of the Year,” and won the 2010 award for Female Vocalist.

Ms. Lynch’s 2012 USA Walker Fellowship Award ($50,000.) was one of 50 salutes given from United States Artists (USA). The USA Fellows represent the most innovative and influential artists in their fields – including cutting-edge thinkers and traditional practitioners from the fields of architecture and design, crafts and traditional arts, dance, literature, media, music, theater arts, and visual arts.

In January 2013, after a long successful stint with Rounder Records, Claire signed a recording agreement with esteemed Nashville roots label Compass Records, called by Billboard Magazine, “…one of the greatest independent labels of the last decade.” With their co-founder Garry West producing, she released the ninth solo recording of her career titled Dear Sister . The title track – a tear-inducing masterpiece co-written by Claire with Southerner Louisa Branscomb – is an intimate farewell letter shared between a brother and sister, their lives ravaged by the destruction of the Civil War, and delivered with all the tenderness for which Lynch is known.

By Summer 2013, and over a period of almost two years, the album reached the #1 position seven times on the Roots Music Reports Top 50 Bluegrass Chart. It received an “Album of the Year” nomination at the 2013 IBMA Awards and twelve months later in October 2014, Claire and Louisa were aptly awarded IBMA’s “Song of the Year” trophy for their brilliant piece, Dear Sister.

Meanwhile, Claire and her band also released a seasonal project on her own label, Thrill Hill Records’ Holiday! (Sept 2014). The recording, a USA Today Season pick described as “a charmer” they “couldn’t help but love”, included her unusual take on some old chestnuts, a couple originals (Claire Lynch/Steven Sheehan’s Heaven’s Light and Henry Hipkens’ Snow Day ) and even a rendition of In the Window, a traditional Chanukah song.

That same year, listed Claire as “One of the 10 Best Angelic Voices of Our Time”. She shared that honor with such luminaries as Judy Collins, Alison Krauss, Sarah McLachlan, Martina McBride, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris.

In September 2016, Claire released North By South – a tribute to America’s northern neighbor which resulted in her third GRAMMY nomination for Best Bluegrass Album. Produced by Compass Records’ co-founder Alison Brown, the recording pays homage to some of her favorite Canadian songwriters, interpreting tracks from greats above the Great Lakes like Gordon Lightfoot and Ron Sexsmith. Backed by the CLB alumni and some of the world’s finest acoustic heavyweights (Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, David Grier), Lynch infuses the collection with her signature Bluegrass treatment producing an elegant blend of foreign songs and domestic artistry.

Lynch’s Canadian leanings all started when a fan’s email suggested places for her to play in Toronto. When she emailed back, it sparked a long correspondence about Canada’s culture, history and diverse art scene. She eventually did score a gig in Toronto and what’s better, she fell in love with her pen pal leading to their marriage in 2014. North By South is the product of a growing love for Canada that is now one of the centerpieces of Lynch’s life.

As one observer writes, “Listening to Claire Lynch sing is not something to be undertaken casually. Her songs and stage presence demand the listener’s rapt attention. She’s an intensely soulful singer, whose distinctive voice resonates with power and strength, yet retains an engaging innocence and crystalline purity. She’s also a songwriter of extraordinary ability who can bring listeners to their feet with her buoyant rhythms or to their knees with her sometimes almost unbearably poignant and insightful lyrics.” ( Dave Higgs-WPLN Nashville)

Claire Lynch charms with Canadian bluegrass

Claire Lynch began her career in bluegrass in Alabama. With Grammy nominations and IBMA awards, including three as top female vocalist, Lynch is firmly entrenched in the upper echelon of bluegrass artists.

For “North by South,” Lynch travels north of the border to record songs by Canadian tunesmiths. Canada is home to Lynch’s husband who introduced her to some of his country’s finest writers, most of whom are unknown in the land of the cotton.

It doesn’t matter, though, where she finds her songs, because Lynch is versatile and astute, with a voice so warm and reassuring it could melt Canada’s stubborn permafrost.

From the opening lines of “Cold Hearted Wind,” Lynch invites us to hold to hope with comforting resolve: “Some morning you may find yourself alone/And there’ll be no warning should the wind of change start blowing/Cold-hearted wind is blowin’ in the face of love/But I’ll take you to a place I know/Where the cold-hearted wind don’t blow.”

“Molly May,” written by J.P. and Gervais Cormier, is a first-person tale of life on a fishing boat, as the career and vessel pass between generations. “Gone Again” reflects on the nomadic life of working musicians, who leave home and fans behind as they travel from town to town.

The mood turns inward on Gordon Lightfoot’s “It’s Worth Believing,” with Lynch sharing lead vocals with her former band mate Bryan McDowell. And Lynch’s humor illuminates “Milo,” a loving nod to her husband as a testament to the fact that opposites attract.

Lynch is accompanied by her talented band – Matt Wingate, Jarrod Walker, and Mark Schatz – with Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, David Grier and other guests introducing more bluegrass flavors than on some of Lynch’s previous albums.

But throughout “North by South,” it’s Lynch’s emotionally honest voice and discerning choice of songs that star, and provide the most satisfying and compelling album of her heralded career.

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Jack Bernhardt

Music Review: Indie Roundup – Claire Lynch Band’s Holiday Album, Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons, The Suitcase Junket

Late in every year comes an avalanche of holiday albums, but seldom a bluegrass holiday album. The Claire Lynch Band’s Holiday! is a welcome change. The group’s easygoing, ballad-heavy flavor of bluegrass lends itself nicely to this selection of sweetly rendered holiday-themed songs.

I never thought of it before, but could any instrument be a better choice to power “Jingle Bells” than the banjo? And why didn’t I think of arranging “We Three Kings” in 5/8 time? (Then again, we can’t all have a fiddle player like Bryan McDowell.) A gently swaying “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” turns into a syncopated rave-up providing another of the generally easygoing album’s high-energy moments.

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Interested in booking ‘Claire Lynch Band, Holiday!’? Click here for more information.

Jon Sobel

Op-Ed 10 Best Female Angelic Voices of our Time
Markos Papadatos

IBMA star Claire Lynch plays West Asheville

After many years in the business, Claire Lynch is cleaning up on accolades.

“It’s like the old Aesop’s fable, slow and steady wins the race,” said Lynch. “I really think if you just concentrate on your music, keep your nose to the grindstone, you get there.”

She took home her third International Bluegrass Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year award earlier this year, and her new album, “Dear Sister,” was nominated for an IBMA Album of the Year and spent weeks at number one on the Roots Music Report bluegrass chart.

Joined by Bryan McDowell on fiddle, Mark Schatz on bass and Matt Wingate on guitar, the Claire Lynch Band plays the Isis Restaurant and Music Hall at 9 p.m. Nov. 16, touring in support of “Dear Sister.”

Lynch won her first IBMA Vocalist of the Year award in 1997 (also the year she was nominated for a Grammy) and her second in 2010. With bluegrass roots that began at home in Alabama in the ’70s folk revival, her first major band was Hickory Wind, shortly after changed to the Front Porch String Band and centered around Lynch’s soaring voice. She has been in the public eye every since.

Her songs have a timeless feel, combining folk, swing and old-time mountain sounds with contemporary or classic bluegrass. Patty Loveless, the Seldom Scene, Kathy Mattea, the Whites and more have recorded her original songs, but the two-time Grammy nominee who once wrote on Nashville’s Music Row follows her own muse, incorporating multiple styles while staying right at home in bluegrass.

“My music and career developed in the bluegrass field, with the growth of IBMA,” said Lynch. “They reached out their arms to me. And it is growing and accepting young people.” Comfortable with the bluegrass label, Lynch has one of the best bands in the business today.

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Carol Rifkin, Asheville Scene

Interview with Claire Lynch: IBMA ‘Female Vocalist of the Year’

Veteran bluegrass singer-songwriter Claire Lynch accepted her third career win for the coveted International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) “Female Vocalist of the Year” award on September 26, 2013.
On her most recent win, Lynch remarked, “It was a lot of fun and really exciting. I actually had a funny feeling it was going to happen this time. It was extremely gratifying and for some reason, it wasn’t like a big, huge surprise. To have this kind of this honor and to be recognized for this long is a really beautiful thing and sort of an affirmation of my work.” Presently, she is a part of the Compass Records label roster and she noted that she enjoys being a part of it. “I like their attitude and I like the fact that the label’s founders, Garry (West) and Alison (Brown), are both musicians. Alison is a beautiful gal and I was in the studio with her this week watching her producing an album for another band. It was fun to work with her and watch her in the producer role.”…
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Markos Papadatos, Digital Journal

Claire Lynch Band Oct. 3 & 4

If you’ve never heard Claire Lynch sing, your life’s not quite complete. For never was there a sweeter sound – never more fair from any songbird’s trill – than her voice. What she can do to a musical story has helped transform the art of bluegrass music. A true original, she’s a joy to behold and as deep, down soulful as can be.

It wasn’t always so – she’s worked hard for her recognition and deserves all she can get. Surprisingly, her extremely southern-sounding voice was born in Kingston, New York where, at age 12, she relocated with her family to Hazel Green, Alabama. Upon meeting her husband, Larry, she moved away from her love of singing pop music with her sisters to falling in love with bluegrass. Singing in Larry’s band, Hickory Wind ­– eventually The Front Porch String Band, she released her debut, Breakin’ It, in ’81. The rest is history – that and 9 more discs, a family and a touring regimen that would make a Bedouin blush. A faultless writer, her name preceded her own live talents as others covered her music. She’s since more than earned her own marquis – treading the boards endlessly, injecting her original material with a sweet soulfulness, proving that nobody does them better than she.

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Eric Thom, Roots Music Canada

Music Review: Dear Sister

Soulful delivery, insightful songs

It’s a testament to her creativity that Claire Lynch was among a handful of artists honored last year with a U.S. Artists Award. The award is given to “encourage cultural innovators who continually push boundaries and provide fresh interpretations of our world.”

Claire Lynch is both innovative and insightful. She’s thoughtful in her choice of songs, reflective in her songwriting, soulful in her singing and collaborative with her band. This rare trio of qualities comes together on “Dear Sister,” Lynch’s debut CD on Nashville’s Compass Records label.

The title track, written by Lynch and Louisa Branscomb, is the centerpiece of this inspired 10-track collection. Based on letters written by a Confederate soldier to his sister (a Branscomb relative), this song-of-the-year candidate is a lovely narrative of longing for home by one who knows he may not return.

Bluegrass music’s top female vocalist for 2010, Lynch steps beyond labels to embrace a variety of moods, tempos and styles. In “How Many Moons,” she anticipates reciprocated love while serving notice that it may be time to move on: “I ain’t one for hangin’ ’round/ Unless I’m waitin’ for a train/ My mama taught me just enough/ To get out of the rain.”

With “Once the Teardrops Start to Fall,” Lynch swings away tears from memories that linger after the fire is gone. Optimism informs “Need Someone,” as she muses, “Maybe this notion of happiness is way beyond belief/ But lately I’m open to possibilities.” She professes her faith with the gospel sentiments of “Patch of Blue.”

Lynch lightens the mood with giddy Bobby Osborne-Pete Gobel bluegrass, “I’ll Be Alright Tomorrow.”

She is supported by her exceptional trio, featuring award-winning bassist/banjoist Mark Schatz and North Carolina natives Matt Wingate and Bryan McDowell, while Former Tar Heel songwriter Pierce Pettis contributes “That Kind of Love.”

From beginning to end, “Dear Sister” pushes boundaries and offers fresh interpretations of familiar situations and moods – a brilliant album from one of our most innovative and thoughtful artists.

Correspondent Jack Bernhardt

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Jack Bernhardt, The News & Observer

Claire Lynch Brings Her Beautiful Voice and Killer Band to Hill Country

If you’re a bluegrass fan, you probably know that Claire Lynch has been a bigtime IBMA winner as a singer. And if you’re a bluegrass fan in New York, you probably already know that the former Front Porch String Band frontwoman is playing Hill Country on June 27 at 10:30 PM. The downstairs space there has a powerful PA and it’s a ticketed event ($15), so you won’t have to strain to hear over the usual crowds of bellowing tourists. Her latest album with her all-star band, titled Dear Sister, finds her on the mellower side of newgrass, more or less. As usual, the picking is strong (and often spectacular), lively conversations abounding between guitarist/mandolinist Matt Wingate, Bryan McDowell (on fiddle, mando and guitar) and banjo player Mark Schatz  Many of the tunes are just flat-out gorgeous, to match the vocals. Lynch’s voice is sort of a blend of vintage Dolly Parton and Amy Allison, with a similar nuance and unexpected power when she wants to drive a lyric home.

The opening track, How Many Moons is a pop song in disguise: then the backbeat and the dobro and the fiddle kick in and  it’s a country song. “No one’s ever said that I had the patience of a saint,” Lynch admits. Doin’ Time, a duet with Tim O’Brien, is deliciously anthemic, like a vintage Tom Petty song reinvented as bluegrass. Once the Teardrops Start to Fall sets a torchy vocal over a growly, bluesy bassline, a vibe that Lynch keeps going strong in Need Someone, which is an unabashedly straight-up pop song  The album’s centerpiece, a co-write with Louisa Bascomb, is based on letters sent home from the battlefield by Bascomb’s Civil War ancestors.  Dripping with authenticity, there’s an ever-present, bittersweet longing for home; and a crushing subtext that does not bode well for the soldiers.

A brisk remake of the Osborne Brothers’ I’ll be Alright Tomorrow, with a cameo fromAlison Brown on banjo, plays up the angle that the singer might like drinking away her baby more than him actually coming home. Other choice tracks include the slow dobro-fueled ballad Everybody Knows I’ve Been Cryin’ and the closing diptych, Buttermilk Road/The Arbours, winding up the album on a high note, a rustic fiddle-and-percussion dance hitched to an oldschool bluegrass romp.

New York Music Daily

Music Matters: Claire Lynch returns to home away from home in Savannah

Lynch has received high praise from the likes of Dolly Parton, who described her as “one of the sweetest, purest and best lead voices in the music business today.” Added Mary Chapin Carpenter: “Her original songs display her gifts as a songwriter of uncommon skill, and her outside song choices reinforce her artistic self, one who feels deeply about home, family, strength, resilience and courage.”

But one Lynch’s favorite fan compliments was from Doc S. out of Atlanta: “I sure do love how you follow your heart and your talent and great musicians flock to you — and fans, too, like me. Continued success, Claire. A beautiful heart makes beautiful songs. You are the proof.”

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Shawndra Russell, Savannah Morning News

Profile: Claire Lynch

For decades, Claire Lynch has been one of the most progressive envelope-pushers in contemporary bluegrass. First as the lead singer of the Front Porch String Band in the 1980s, then as a session vocalist and songwriter working with artists like Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, and then in her solo career throughout the 1990s and into this decade…Lynch has earned her place among the great artists of contemporary folk, bluegrass, and Americana.

With nine albums under her belt (including two with her former band), she’s earned Grammy nominations and IBMA awards. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it’s a great time and an excellent excuse to get to know more about this great woman in modern acoustic music.

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Kim Ruehl, Guide

Queen of Bluegrass Brings Crown to Firehouse

Just a week after being crowned the International Bluegrass Music Association’s 2010 Female Vocalist of the Year, Rounder recording artist Claire Lynch heads to Newburyport’s Firehouse Center for the Arts Saturday night to prove why she earned the honor.
Lynch and her band will highlight tracks off their latest CD, the Americana-inflected bluegrass release “Whatcha Gonna Do,” as well as other favorites in the 8 p.m. show at the theater in Market Square.
Ken Irwin of Newburyport, one of the founders of the Rounder Records label, calls Lynch one of the best singers around and says her show is one of the “most user-friendly” bluegrass, country and folk performances to come to Newburyport in his memory. Irwin especially lauds Lynch and her band’s choice of songs.
“Many of the best songs in her repertoire are songs that she has written, and the material is far more accessible to our audience here than the repertoires of most bluegrass acts,” Irwin said in an e-mail.
Music came naturally to Lynch, who was raised in New York by parents who were music lovers. She began her education into country music when she moved to Alabama at age 12 and gravitated toward bluegrass at the end of high school at a time when the values of simplicity and respect for nature had taken hold in the country. She found bluegrass self-sufficient and organic.
Her harmonies have graced the recordings of many musicians, including Linda Ronstadt, and her songs have been recorded by numerous musicians as well.
Twice nominated for a Grammy Award for best bluegrass album, Lynch signed her second, three-record deal with Rounder in 2005. “Whatcha Gonna Do,” which was released in September 2009, hit No. 1 on Bluegrass Music Profiles’ national bluegrass CD chart in January.

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Newbury Port News

Feature Focus: Claire Lynch

 Claire Lynch has been a force in bluegrass music for over three decades although in appearance she seems too young for that to be the case. Claire’s work in bluegrass has propelled her to become a sought after session vocalist. She is a prolific songwriter and collaborator with many of the country’s most famous names. Claire started out in the 70s in country music and then joined the bluegrass wave in the 80s. Country music influences are still evident in her vocals. Her original songs have won the hearts of many fans carried on the vocal chords of such artists as Kathy Mattea, Patty Loveless, Cherryholmes and the Whites. Claire’s harmonies on Dolly Parton’s bluegrass album brought an invitation to make a promotional tour with Dolly.

In 2000 Claire released the solo CD Love Light. At the time she planned to step out of music forever. When she returned to the music scene she said, ―I never thought I’d come back. Then one day I opened my catalog of songs and realized that I’d written my life.‖ She came back little by little and now plays a full schedule.

Claire was named IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year in 2010 and in 1997. In ’97 she was soloist with the Front Porch String Band and in 2005 formed her own Claire Lynch Band. Her album New Day that year spent weeks on the bluegrass charts and earned her the nomination for IBMA Song of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year. In 2007 Rounder Records picked up her tunes and released them as Crowd Favorites. For that she received more nominations and induction into the Alabama Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.

You may have heard Claire and the Claire Lynch Band at a Midwinter Bluegrass Festival in Northglenn, Colorado. Ken Seaman has featured her there a couple of times recently. You can also watch Claire perform on a number of YouTube videos. You’re sure to enjoy her distinctive vocals and the tight harmonies of the band. I highly recommend you take a listen.

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Phyllis Stark

Bluegrass musician Claire Lynch returning home for two-night show

Claire Lynch is coming home.

The acclaimed bluegrass performer who spent 30-plus years in Alabama will return to Merrimack Hall Performing Arts Center on Thursday and Friday with her band in tow to perform a myriad of musical genres.

“It will be the quintessential Claire Lynch Band show,” said the singer/songwriter who now resides in Nashville, “with originals, fabulous harmony singing, incredible bluegrass bass and instrumental picking.

“And then we will have humor, dancing, Appalachian clogging and a lot of favorites will be played,” Lynch said. “Also some new, fresh material that hasn’t been recorded yet.”

Lynch moved to Huntsville from Kingston, N.Y., when she was 12 and jokingly notes the big change.

“It was a culture shock,” she said. “But I adjusted and ended up living in Alabama for a long time … raised children there, married.”

Lynch’s earliest memories of music began in childhood around a piano when her parents taught her and her two sisters to sing trio. But it wasn’t until her sister got her hands on a guitar that the road to Lynch’s bluegrass destiny was paved.

“Whenever she wasn’t playing it (the guitar), I would sneak in her room and play it,” Lynch said. “When I was a child, I became enamored with folk music and started writing when I was little.”

Now in her 50s, Lynch continues to pursue her passion for the raw sounds of bluegrass. Although she has taken several hiatuses from the art to tend to family needs, the musician is lucky to have been able to make a career out of it.

“For some reason, I have always come back,” she said. “I took a six-year hiatus and came back in 2005 to go on my own.”

Hence the Claire Lynch Band – what the Grammy-nominated guitarist describes as a big wall of sound that’s comprised of Huntsville native Matt Wingate, who plays both the guitar and mandolin and sings high harmony, bassist Mark Schatz and Florida fiddle and mandolin player Jason Thomas.

The quartet tours throughout the country with about 100 play-dates out of the year and is in the midst of working on its next album with Nashville producer Jim Ed Norman. Lynch says she hopes to have the album – which will be her ninth in her solo career – completed before spring, but she isn’t rushing the process.

“We are taking our time to make a good album,” she said.

And Lynch doesn’t foresee taking another break or retiring from the music biz any time soon. Simply put, music is the essence of her life.

“(I hope to do it) until I’m dead,” she said. “I have lived it and breathed it.”

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Sarah Cure

The lady can sing

Claire Lynch is quite simply one of the best singers in the world. Her distinctive voice has been described as “soulful, resonating with power and strength, yet retaining an engaging innocence and crystalline purity.” Claire has earned praise from contemporaries Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt; Linda calls Claire’s voice” beautiful and effervescent,” while Dolly says “she has one of the sweetest, purest and best lead voices in the music business today.”
And Claire Lynch is coming to Greenville! Due to lucky happenstance for Darke County Center for the Arts, a hole opened up in her touring schedule, DCCA was contacted, St. Clair Memorial Hall was available – and voila! This bluegrass icon is bringing her fabulous voice as well as her awesome bands to our community on Friday, April 1 (no foolin’).
Claire first gained fame with The Front Porch String Band in 1981, when that amazing voice backed by hot-picking musicians set the group apart from other emerging bluegrass bands. However soon after the group’s smashing debut recording, the lead singer gave birth to her first child, and disappeared from the national music scene for several years while raising a family. Although a hiatus from touring, this time in Claire’s life was spent making a name for herself as a Nashville songwriter and backup singer, recording with luminaries Ralph Stanley and Emmylou Harris as well as the aforementioned Parton and Ronstadt, and writing songs recorded by Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea, and others.
The Front Porch String Band and its lead singer re-emerged in 1991, with Claire earning her first Grammy nomination in 1995 and her second two years later. She was named Female Vocalist of the Year by International Bluegrass Music Association in 1997. In 2000,
Claire Lynch released “Lovelight,” an album closer to mainstream country than her previous output, before beginning another break from performance as she helped her teen-aged daughter get through high school.
Returning to the music business in 2005, Claire has recorded three more albums, earning accolades and awards (including 2010 IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year) as she started over once again. She says she’s become an expert at starting over, of reinventing herself, and her music reflects that perspective, demonstrating the strength and resilience that has motivated her through the years.
Okay, so that’s Claire – and she’s definitely worth hearing. But making the upcoming concert even more of an event to anticipate is the quality of her backup band. Mark Schatz who plays clawhammer banjo as well as bass has twice been named IBMA Bass Player of the Year. Jason Thomas’s lyrical mastery of fiddle styles from bluegrass to Celtic to country to Gypsy jazz has garnered praise and respect from critics, fans, and musicians alike. The newest member of the band, Matthew Wingate, first gained notice in 1997, when he won the Merlefest “Doc Watson Guitar Championship” at the age of 15, and has since gained recognition for his considerable skills as one of the most exciting young musicians in bluegrass music today.
Claire Lynch says that she’s a singer/songwriter who comes from bluegrass music and whose songs are firmly in the bluegrass tradition; however, her output includes music which could be called folk, swing, or country. If you don’t think you like bluegrass, come hear Claire Lynch. Her pure lovely voice will change your mind. If you are a bluegrass fan, you know that this should be a night to remember and have already decided to jump at the chance to hear this powerhouse band backing up a legendary performer with an awesome voice.
Marilyn Delk, Darke County Center for the Arts

Bluegrass songstress brings duet to town

Claire Lynch, still fresh from her second win as Female Vocalist of the Year at the 2010 International Bluegrass Music Association Awards, will visit the Shoals on Friday with bandmate Matt Wingate for a special duo concert.
Lynch normally tours with the full Claire Lynch Band, but she and Wingate have presented stripped-down shows this winter. Wingate will share in the singing duties with Lynch, as well as play guitar, bouzouki and mandolin. The two will perform at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church in Florence.
“The beauty of doing a duo is how the songs are pared down to their barest form,” Lynch said. “A lot of sweetness can emerge. The fans have a closer glimpse of us as artists — you could say in this case that less is more.”
Recording since she was 19, Lynch has received two Grammy Award nominations, been nominated for IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year 11 times and was previously a member of the bluegrass Front Porch String Band. She has worked with such artists as Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and Pam Tillis, and songs she has written have been recorded by artists such as Kathy Mattea and Patty Loveless.
Her most recent album, “Watcha Gonna Do,” was released in September 2009 to positive reviews.
Tickets for the show are available in advance at Alabama Outdoors, 468 N. Court St., Florence, or at the door at the church, 410 N. Pine St.

Bluegrass star returns home to Kingston

Claire Lynch could bring her band to Kingston for a chance to visit childhood haunts. After all, she was born here.
Instead, the expected standing-room-only show at the Skytop Steakhouse will showcase the talent that won Lynch the International Bluegrass Music Association’s 2010 Female Vocalist of the Year and placed her newest album, “Whatcha Gonna Do?,” at the top of the charts.
A sense of place and family is key to Lynch’s songwriting style, and the inspiration usually arrives as a stray phrase matched with a melody she can build on.

“There’s a song I wrote called ‘The Woods of Sipsey’ about Sipsey River (Ala.) here where my Granny lived and died. It’s a very godforsaken backwoods place and she’s a country lady. As she was dying, I wrote it as first-person Granny,” Lynch said.

Her family moved to Alabama when she was 12, and one of her earliest songs, “Hills of Alabama,” was recorded by Kathy Mattea.

“It’s a truck-driving song,” Lynch said. “I was very young when I wrote it, but you have to understand the landscape and family in songs. I never did write a song about Kingston. I was writing more poems back then and gave them as gifts to my family.”

She has no family remaining in the Kingston area, but remembers childhood walks in the woods between Lucas Avenue and Miller’s Lane, where neighborhood kids built tree forts.

“We’d all go to Forsyth Park. It was my favorite place to meet my friends and play. There was a place called Duck Pond, where we used to ice skate in the winter,” Lynch said. “My father would make a little campfire on the banks so we could stay warm and we’d skate. Those are some of my fondest memories with my dad.”

After moving to Alabama, Lynch formed the Front Porch String Band at age 19 and recorded several well-received albums. She spent time as a session vocalist in the 1980s, singing backup on albums by Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt. Her band returned to recording in the 1990s, bringing out Grammy-nominated albums “Moonlighter” and “Silver and Gold.” An album of Lynch’s original tunes, “Love Light,” was the group’s last recording together.

In 2004, she formed the Claire Lynch Band, recorded three top-selling albums for Rounder Records and began touring. The band now consists of Matthew Wingate on guitar, mandolin and vocals; top bass player Mark Schatz, whom many listeners know from his recordings with Nickel Creek, Bela Fleck and Jerry Douglas; and Jason Thomas on mandolin, fiddle and vocals. Thomas recorded three albums with Kane’s River.

Lynch keeps the same band for touring and recording.

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Deborah Medenbach

Hometown Reunion-Bluegrass star Claire Lynch returns to Kingston for Skytop concert

Before she was Claire Lynch, IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) female vocalist of the year for 2010; back before she toured the country with the Front Porch String Band, or sang with Dolly Parton, she was Claire Lutke, who lived in Kingston on Lucas Avenue while her father worked for IBM, from 1958 to 1969 or so.

Now she’ll return to her former hometown, this time with her highly acclaimed Claire Lynch Band, for a concert that will begin at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30 at the Skytop Steakhouse on Forest Hill Drive (you must know the one, with the huge neon sign that rarely has lit its full complement of letters). Opening the show is Woodstock’s Saturday Night Bluegrass Band.

Lynch says she was last in Kingston in the early 1990s. “I remember driving by my old house and thinking how small it was,” she says, in a telephone interview from her current home in Nashville. “I was there from when I was 4 until I was 12. I went through grade school at Chambers Elementary and transferred to George Washington School for fifth and sixth grade. “I remember walking to Forsyth Park … on Saturdays we would walk downtown (uptown, really) to Woolworth’s. My mother took us into Fanny Farmer … used to go to New Paltz, Poughkeepsie, shopping to Luckey Platt’s … ”

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Brian Hollander-Hudson Valley Times

The Best of Bluegrass

Claire Lynch is a musician’s musician. New York–born and Alabama–bred, Lynch has been making beautiful bluegrass music since her late teens.
Her first outfit, Hickory Wind, morphed into the Front Porch String Band, and Lynch spent decades touring the world with her bandmates and husband–slash–mandolinist Larry Lynch.
In 2004, the songstress struck out on her own to form The Claire Lynch Band (now featuring Jason Thomas on fiddle and mandolin, Mark Schatz on bass and Matt Wingate on guitar).
After an album deal with Rounder Records, some International Bluegrass Music Association wins and a few Grammy nods, Lynch is looking to bring her Americana–inflected bluegrass to the masses.
After all, she has over a dozen records under her belt, and Dolly Parton called her “one of the sweetest, purest and best lead voices in the music business today.”
Lynch and company perform Saturday, Dec. 4 at Randy Wood Guitars in Bloomingale.
We caught up with Lynch to chat about songwriting, winning a Grammy and the band’s chemistry. Here’s a little bit from that conversation:

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Kara Pound

Baltimore City Paper

“When Lynch brought her quartet to the Cellar Stage Friday night, it wasn’t just her warm, welcoming soprano that captivated the crowd but also the terrific picking of her supporting cast.” Baltimore City Paper

The New York Times

“A bluegrass stalwart, Ms. Lynch showcases the strong rapport of a working band on “Whatcha Gonna Do,” her chipper new album. And along with some original tunes, she lays claim to songs like “The Mockingbird’s Voice,” a pitch-perfect fit for her.” The New York Times


 “With a wealth of terrific material, Whatcha Gonna Do marks an assured, elegant return for veteran bluegrass vocalist Claire Lynch… crisp, dewy vocals ring over a parade of ethereal folk, bluegrass-swing, and mountain waltzes”
#4 Bluegrass album of 09 in POPMATTERS

Music Review Claire Lynch, Watcha Gonna Do

Claire Lynch’s music comes from a crossroads where folk, bluegrass, and pop meet, with elements of all three creating an enchanting musical hybrid that’s difficult to pigeonhole but delightful to listen to.

On her latest outing for venerable Rounder Records (her first since 2006’s New Day), Lynch applies her astonishingly clear, pure voice to a carefully-chosen collection of tunes that positively pulse with a joyous celebration of life.

Lynch puts her cards on the table with the leadoff track, “Great Day In The Morning,” an unabashedly optimistic greeting to a new day’s possibilities and potential. With its lilting melody and Lynch’s soaring vocal, it proves an uplifting and inspirational opener, setting a sunny mood that prevails throughout.

Indeed, Lynch seems possessed of rare grace and wisdom, able to accept the inevitable, learn her lessons, and shoulder on with an eternally hopeful smile. Even when love’s gone astray, as in “The Mockingbird’s Voice,” Lynch tempers the mildly melancholy mood with almost cheerful resignation and acceptance.

“Face To Face” is a buoyant and bouncy declaration of faith seemingly infused with pure sunshine, while folk legend Jesse Winchester guests on his own “That’s What Makes You Strong,” another thoughtful tune that looks at life with gently homespun wisdom, enlivened by utterly gorgeous fiddle from Jason Thomas.

Even when Lynch is exploring darker subject matter – “Whatcha Gonna Do” poses the ultimate question as judgment looms, and the traditional sounding “A Canary’s Song” and “Widow’s Weeds” deal with death and the dark despair of a coal miner’s life – there’s an inescapably sunny quality to her delivery.

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John Taylor

The Washington Post

” a sterling, silvery vocal presence and a gift for supple, emotional ornamentation…”

The Nashville Scene

“Claire Lynch is one of the classiest acts in bluegrass today.”

The Boston Globe

“…winsome high range that mixes fragility and strength…”

Nashville Scene Critic’s Pick-Station Inn

After bidding farewell to veteran bandmember Jim Hurst earlier this year, Claire Lynch — one of the few artists who can convincingly fit songs from both Bill Monroe and Garth Brooks alongside her own — has been introducing new guitar man Matt Wingate to audiences around the country (and now to Nashville). Those with sharp eyes will have noticed Wingate in years past, including a long stint with Georgia’s Lovell Sisters, and the new gig puts him in a spotlight for which he’s more than ready. With an intriguing mix of wide-eyed enthusiasm, wry bemusement and disarming faith, Lynch continues to score big with releases like last year’s Whatcha Gonna Do. Is she reaching out from a folk base to bluegrass audiences or vice versa? (The answer is: “Who cares?”)

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Jon Weisberger

Baltimore Press-With A Little Help: Claire Lynch at the Cellar Stage, May 21

Claire Lynch keeps losing all-star musicians, but the singer continues to lead one of the best bluegrass bands around. When Lynch brought her quartet to the Cellar Stage at the Faith Community United Methodist Church of Hamilton Friday night, it wasn’t just her warm, welcoming soprano that captivated the crowd but also the terrific picking of her supporting cast.
The International Bluegrass Music Association once voted Lynch as the genre’s best female singer, and she likes to surround herself with peers. For many years her bassist was Missy Raines, winner of multiple IBMA Awards, but when she left at the end of 2007, Lynch was able to replace her with bassist Mark Schatz, himself a multiple IBMA winner. For even a longer time, Lynch’s guitarist was Jim Hurst, himself a two-time IBMA winner, but he left this past March. He was replaced by Matt Wingate, a young man who hasn’t won any awards yet but probably will, judging by his very fast, very melodic acoustic-guitar solos.
The quartet of Lynch, Schatz, Wingate, and Jason Thomas has only been together three weeks, and they were obviously still getting used to one another. Despite a few awkward transitions, though, they showed great potential. They could handle a hard, driving bluegrass number like Bill Monroe’s “My Florida Sunshine” convincingly, but they could also pull off a dark, bluesy lament like “Jealousy,” an old-time country song like Lynch’s “Widow’s Weeds,” a breezy swing tune like Henry Hipkens’ “Fallin’ in Love,” and a singer-songwriter folk number like Lynch’s “Woods of Sipsey.”

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Geoffrey Himes

BMP March Top 30

My Florida Sunshine

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The Claire Lynch Band at Station Inn

Ms. Lynch has been hitting the road in the last couple of years with enough enthusiasm, energy and enjoyment to give the most boisterous youngster pause, and she’s done so with a crackerjack band that, through several personnel changes, has been exquisitely attuned to her signature blend of strength and delicacy, melancholy and gentle good humor, folk overtones and bluegrass drive. The departure of long-time guitarist, banjo player and harmony singer Jim Hurst was recently announced — this may well be his last Nashville gig with the band. It’s a loss that will surely have an impact, but Lynch has coped with previous changes before and come up shining each time. Remaining band members include the legendary Mark Schatz, whose bass talents are exceeded only by his hambone gifts, and seriously under-sung fiddle/mandolin man Jason Thomas, whose playing has exactly the right degree of lyricism to match Lynch’s world-class vocals.

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Jon Weisberger

Best Country Albums of 2009, Part 1: #20-#11

A tense uncertainty hung over 2009, as the world waited to see what would become of a new American president, an economy in crisis, and a full deck of divisive social issues.
Popular music tends to respond to such charged societal circumstances in one of two ways: by confronting the issues and their ramifications head-on, or by cranking up the escapism to drown it all out for a bit. 2009 leaned heavily on the latter course, as the thumping sex-pop of Lady GaGa and the fluttery boy-centrism of Taylor Swift dominated the airwaves and the registers, offering listeners a chance to believe, if only for a few passing moments, that the world was as simple as a ride on a “disco stick” or the defeat of an evil cheer captain.
The tensions were certainly felt in country music, whose mainstream attempted to rally its casual fans against all the fallout by drumming up endless brain-optional reassurances of hometown value, God and gender identity, mostly with the volume at an attention-forcing 11 and the lyrical shrewdness averaging about 3. It made for a remarkably accessible year for that mainstream, but one which fewer fans ultimately cared much about, neutered as it was by its attempts to appease – rather than inspire – the mass public…
#11 Grammy nominee and IBMA award winner Claire Lynch was performing progressive bluegrass well before its recent commercial expansion, experience that serves her well on her latest album, Whatcha Gonna Do. Produced by Lynch herself, Whatcha Gonna Do is an eclectic gathering of well-written material that ranges from the unrecorded “A Canary’s Song,” co-written by Garth Brooks, to the more traditional “My Florida Sunshine,” written by Bill Monroe. Perhaps most impressive is Lynch‘s “Woods of Sipsey,” a haunting song written for her grandmother-in-law that shows the extent to which she continues to be a progressive voice in acoustic music. – WW

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Dan Milliken

Claire Lynch, Whatcha Gonna Do

Claire Lynch, one of acoustic music’s most versatile singers, will release Whatcha Gonna Do September 15 on Rounder Records. A new Claire Lynch album does more than herald the arrival of a new collection of stellar vocals and tight, tasteful arrangements – each album also showcases Lynch’s remarkable taste in songs. Whatcha Gonna Do is no exception – it brims over with powerful songs, extraordinary vocals, and top-of-the-line musicianship.

Whatcha Gonna Do features four songs written or co-written by Lynch including “Highway,” written with Irene Kelley, “Face to Face,” written with Donna Ulisse, “Widow’s Weeds,” written with Jennifer Kimball, and the haunting “Woods of Sipsey,” which Lynch wrote for “Granny,” her grandmother-in-law, who taught her all about “genteel Southern living.”

The album also includes Jesse Winchester’s “That’s What Makes You Strong,” delivered as a sultry duet between Lynch and the songwriter, the lovely “A Canary’s Song,” penned by Garth Brooks and Buddy Mondlock, and Bill Monroe’s classic “My Florida Sunshine,” which accentuates the “blue” in bluegrass.

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The New Season | Pop Hope and Regret, Recorded and Live

CLAIRE LYNCH A bluegrass stalwart, Ms. Lynch showcases the strong rapport of a working band on “Whatcha Gonna Do,” her chipper new album. And along with some original tunes, she lays claim to songs like “The Mockingbird’s Voice,” a pitch-perfect fit for her. Tuesday. Rounder.

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Nate Chinen

Please check back for upcoming tour information.