Singer-songwriter Tift Merritt is the newest artist working with NRDC to stop mountaintop removal coal mining. She joins fellow musicians Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow, Kathy Mattea and Big Kenny (of Big & Rich) in our campaign: Music Saves Mountains.
Merritt, who was born in Texas and grew up in North Carolina, still retains her deep love of the natural beauty of her home state -- particularly the Appalachian Mountains that form Carolina's western border. Her songs are mostly about longing and heartbreak, a style that fits perfectly with the effort to preserve America's oldest mountains from the coal industry's disdainful regard for Appalachia's abundant natural resources and cultural heritage.
"Mountaintop removal is heartbreaking, harrowing and unnecessary," says Merritt. "What is happening to the Appalachian Mountains and the citizens there should make activists of us all."
A Grammy-winning alt-country chanteuse, she began her career in 2002 and has recorded several critically-acclaimed records. Her debut Bramble Rose earned spots on both Time Magazine and The New Yorker’s year-end Top Ten lists. Tambourine, her sophomore album, was Grammy nominated for Country Album of the Year and earned numerous accolades from press and fans.
Merritt has appeared on “The Tonight Show” and “The Late Show with David Letterman,” and shared the stage with Elvis Costello, Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Ryan Adams, Willie Nelson, and Nickel Creek. This year, she has performed on Leno, Letterman, and the Grand Old Opry. People magazine dubs her latest ablum Another County as a “refreshing alternative to the usual suspects,” and Paste magazine claims she’s a “force to be reckoned with as a vocalist and songwriter in any genre she approaches.”
Although Merritt humbly describers her song-writing as plainspoken, another critic characterized her "plaintive musings and writerly ballads" as "incisive and subtle." He praised her music this way:
"[H]er sound sweet and almost innocent, her honeyed voice and melodic tunes just plain lovely. But tune into the words, and you hear pain and crumbling emotions, you hear real vulnerability and deeply-felt realizations, and sometimes you hear things falling apart."
Musical talent. Natural beauty. Pride in her heritage. Compassion for the people of Appalachia. And love of the mountains.
There is indeed a lot to love about Tift Merritt. We're delighted that she's lending her melodic voice to this cause.