Gillian Welch

After being exposed to Gillian Welch's music, a listener unfamiliar with the singer-songwriter might conjure a distinct mental picture of her. She is likely a Southerner who grew up in dirt-poor conditions. Learned to play guitar from her grandpappy. She wears a lot of gingham. In truth, Welch is a New York City native raised primarily in Los Angeles by parents who co-wrote the Emmy-winning musical numbers on "The Carol Burnett Show." The Grammy-winning Welch is now the poster child for a blend of neotraditional country and rustic folk that she dubs "American primitive." The list of performers she's worked with is both impressive and eclectic. It's doubtful anyone else can claim to have shared a microphone with Ralph Stanley, Elvis Costello, Norah Jones, Ryan Adams and Bright Eyes.

"In Nashville, before we ever had a record out, I decided I wanted to play this writers night. I went down there by myself and waited like three or four hours to play. They kept me waiting and kept me waiting as the crowd thinned out. Finally, the guy who had been playing his own songs between every three writers, he got up when there were about three people left and played three more songs. Then he said it was my turn. There was literally nobody left in the place but the bartender and the MC. The MC said, 'Okay, you can play now. Will you turn the PA off when you're done?' So I got up and played a couple songs to the bartender, then I walked over and turned the PA off."

— Gillian Welch