‘Austin City Limits’ Tributes Classic Nanci Griffith Performances in Season Finale [Exclusive Premiere]
Austin City Limits is airing its Season 47 finale on Saturday (Feb. 12), and the iconic country music performance show is paying tribute to the life and music of Nanci Griffith in a special episode showcasing her many appearances over the decades. Fans are getting to see her classic-era performance of "Once in a Very Blue Moon" early in a clip that's exclusive to Taste of Country.
ACL's hour-long season finale features 12 of the modern folksinger's performances culled from her eight appearances on the show over the course of her career. In the exclusive clip below, Griffith performs "Once in a Very Blue Moon" in her debut appearance on Austin City Limits in 1984.
The Austin native hand-stitched the dress she's wearing in the clip, and that's a young, pre-fame Lyle Lovett singing harmony vocals behind her during the performance.
"Once in a Very Blue Moon" served as the title song for Griffith's third album. Dolly Parton also cut the song, including it on her Real Love album the following year in 1985.
Other highlights from ACL's tribute episode include Griffith's rendition of "It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go," culled from her 1991 appearance on a Songwriters Special. Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Indigo Girls provide harmonies for that performance.
Griffith launched her recording career in 1978 with There's a Light Beyond These Woods, and she released a long string of respected albums in the '80s, '90s and into the 2000s. Highlights included 1987's Lone Star State of Mind, which earned her first commercial chart success when it peaked at No. 23 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart. It also gave Griffith her first Top 40 hit with the title song, which reached No. 36 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart.
One of the other songs from that album was "From a Distance," which did not chart for Griffith. It became a career single for Bette Midler when the pop singer released her own version of the track in 1990.
Griffith scored one more Top 40 hit with "I Knew Love" in 1988, but her interest in commercial country was short-lived. She won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1994 for Other Voices, Other Rooms, which featured her covering the songs of artists who had influenced her writing. The album also included guest appearances from Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Arlo Guthrie, Guy Clark and more.
Griffith also wrote songs that scored hits for other artists, including Kathy Mattea and Suzy Bogguss.
The singer-songwriter's management company, Gold Mountain Entertainment, announced her death in a statement on Aug. 13, 2021, but did not reveal her cause of death. Griffith was 68 years old.
Austin City Limits will air its "The Best of Nanci Griffith" special on Saturday beginning at 8PM ET/7PM CT. The episode will be available to stream online beginning Feb. 13 at 10AM ET at pbs.org/austincitylimits.