Lori McKenna puts a magnifying glass on unchampioned lives. She doesn’t just notice the quiet and ordinary, she delights in it, effortlessly transforming the average to extraordinary. The result is over a decade worth of songs filled with honest stories and depth.
McKenna had already become one of the industry’s most sought-after songwriters, and then, the last three years happened. Tim McGraw’s No. 1 “Humble and Kind,” which McKenna wrote alone, earned her the Grammy for Best Country Song. It marked the second consecutive year McKenna took home the honor: Little Big Town’s 11-week No. 1 “Girl Crush,” which McKenna co-wrote, claimed the trophy in 2016. McKenna also earned the ACM Songwriter of the Year crown in 2017, and a slew of nominations both years. “Humble and Kind” clinched a 2017 ACM Song of the Year nomination, while McKenna’s own acclaimed album, The Bird & The Rifle, garnered Grammy nods for Best Americana Album, while album track “Wreck You” received Best Americana Roots Performance and Best Americana Roots Song nods. In 2016, “Girl Crush” scored AIMP Song of the Year honors, along with nominations for Grammy Song of the Year and ACM Song of the Year, while “Humble and Kind” earned a CMA Song of the Year win. Her 2016 CMA Song of the Year honors marked another second consecutive win for McKenna, who also took home the trophy in 2015 for “Girl Crush.”
And just like that, McKenna was catapulted into already-a-legend territory. While Nashville has become an important artistic and business hub for McKenna, Stoughton, Massachusetts has remained home. Faith Hill fell in love with McKenna’s writing first, and since then, country’s biggest stars have followed suit. She penned 2x Platinum Billboard No. 1 hit “I Want Crazy” by Hunter Hayes and radio favorites such as Little Big Town’s “Your Side of the Bed” and “Sober,” while Reba, Alison Krauss, David Nail, Keith Urban, and others have also recorded her songs.
As an artist, McKenna has now recorded 10 albums. NPR declared The Bird & the Rifle, which was produced by Grammy winner Dave Cobb, “one of 2016’s best releases,” while Rolling Stone named Numbered Doors, a stunning collection of her gritty, pensive songs, one of the “40 Best Country Albums of 2014.” Massachusetts, released the previous year, introduced McKenna to an even wider audience, hungry for something real, while 2012’s Heart Shaped Bullet Hole and 2011’s Lorraine were also breakthroughs, adding New York Times praise to her long list of fans including American Songwriter, Paste, and CMT.
Robbie Fulks was born in York, Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and Virginia, and now lives near Chicago. His records include the influential early “alternative country” classics Country Love Songs (1996) and South Mouth (1997), the widely acclaimed Georgia Hard (2005), Gone Away Backward, and, most recently, Upland Stories, which earned two Grammy nominations and was named as one of 2016’s best by Rolling Stone and NPR among many others. He has performed on WSM’s “Grand Ole Opry,” PRI’s “Prairie Home Companion,” PBS’s Austin City Limits, NBC’s Today Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and 30 Rock. Artists who have recorded his songs include Sam Bush, Andrew Bird, Mollie O’Brien, Kelly Hogan, Mekons, Rosie Flores, and Old 97s. His writing has appeared in GQ, DaCapo Press’s Best Music Writing anthologies for 2001 and 2004, and A Guitar and A Pen: Stories by Country Music’s Greatest Songwriters. As an instrumentalist, he has accompanied the Irish fiddle master Liz Carroll, the distinguished jazz violinist Jenny Scheinman, the bluegrass band Special Consensus, and the New Orleans pianist Dr. John. Artists he has produced include George Jones, Mavis Staples, Dallas Wayne, and Linda Gail Lewis. He tours yearlong with various configurations.