Singer songwriter Tift Merritt has had plenty of critical acclaim. But her records don't seem to sell. Of course this forces her to bounce around record companies and she is overlooked. If you're a fan of Maria McKee or Alison Moorer, chances are good you will like Tift Merritt. She was born Jan. 8, 1975 in Houston but she grew up in Raleigh, NC. Her father, a one time aspiring folk singer, taught her to play guitar and piano. Tift's main influences are Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris. She was studying creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she met Zeke Hutchins. They formed The Carbines and started playing local clubs. Tift appeared on an EP by The Two Dollar Pistols. Then she won a songwriting contest at Merlefest 2000. This got Ryan Adams' attention and he took her to his manager and she signed with Universal's Lost Highway Records. Tift's 2002 debut CD Bramble Rose was highly acclaimed. It was chosen debut of the year by Associated Press. But it didn't sell. Her 2004 album Tambourine was produced by The Black Crowes producer George Drakoulias and backing musicians included Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Robert Randolph, Benmont Tench and Maria McKee and Gary Louris on backup vocals. Again the album was critically acclaimed. It was nominated for a Best Country Album Grammy. But it didn't sell. My guess is Tift isn't country enough for country music and she's not pop enough for pop music. But if you like roots music, she's right up your alley. But that's not mainstream music. Fortunately, Tambourine is available as a budget CD so be sure to check it out. Since then, Tift has recorded for Fantasy and Yep Roc. Her latest CD Night is with classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein. It was released on Sony Classical in 2013. Andrew Bird produced her 2012 album Traveling Alone. Tift is a member of his band and she also opens his shows. Check her out if she's coming your way. Here's Tift Merritt performing Stray Paper on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Jan. 28, 2005.