Gillian Howard Welch (born October 2, 1967 in New York City) is an American singer-songwriter. She performs with her musical partner, guitarist David Rawlings. Welch's musical style combines elements of bluegrass, neotraditional country, Americana, old time string band music, and folk.
Welch and Rawlings have released five critically acclaimed albums. Their 1996 debut, Revival, and the 2001 release Time (The Revelator), received nominations for the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Their 2003 album, Soul Journey, introduced electric guitar, drums and a more upbeat sound to their body of work. After a gap of eight years, they released their fifth studio album, The Harrow & The Harvest, in 2011.
Welch was an associate producer and performed on two songs of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, a platinum album that won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2002. Welch has collaborated and recorded with distinguished musicians such as Alison Krauss, Ryan Adams, Jay Farrar, Emmylou Harris, The Decemberists, and Ani DiFranco.
Welch was adopted when she was three days old. She moved to Los Angeles at the age of four. By the age of seven, she had learned to play the guitar. Studying at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Welch discovered bluegrass music through the "mountain soul" stylings of The Stanley Brothers. After a short stint in a local band, Welch moved to Boston and studied at the Berklee College of Music.
In Boston, Welch met and began dating David Rawlings, who would become her longtime musical partner. In 1992, they moved to Nashville and began building a career. In Nashville, she met T-Bone Burnett, producer to such artists as Los Lobos, Sam Phillips, Counting Crows, and Elvis Costello. In 1996, Welch released her first album, Revival, which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1997. Since then, she has recorded other albums and collaborated on the songs "Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby" and "I'll Fly Away" on the soundtrack of the Coen Brothers hit O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
Welch has also collaborated with good friend and singer/songwriter Ryan Adams on the albums Heartbreaker, Gold, and Demolition. She and Rawlings toured with Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, and Buddy Miller in 2004 as The Sweet Harmony Traveling Revue. Welch and Rawlings have collaborated with Old Crow Medicine Show and appear in their video of their song "Wagon Wheel".