With a high-pitched voice that's been compared to Nanci Griffith and Alison Krauss, Claire Lynch has successfully fused a background in popular music and a love of bluegrass. Together with the Front Porch String Band, the group she shares with her husband, Larry, Lynch has been garnering attention as one of the most emotive vocalists in contemporary bluegrass. Born in Kingston, NY, Lynch moved with her family to Hazel Green, AL, at the age of 12. Inspired by the pop songs of Joni Mitchell and the Beatles, Lynch sang as a youngster in an informal trio with her sisters.
Lynch met her future husband in high school. After their graduation, Claire worked at an insurance agency while Larry attended the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. A turning point came when Claire was invited to hear a bluegrass band that Larry was forming with fellow students, called Hickory Wind. She was so taken by their performance that she accepted their invitation to sing with them. When Hickory Wind were hired as the house band of a club in Birmingham, they changed their name to the Front Porch String Band. Over the next seven years, Claire and Larry, who were married in 1976, and the Front Porch String Band became one of the hardest-working groups in Alabama. Their self-produced debut album, Smilin' at You, released in 1977, was followed by Country Rain later the same year. In 1981, the Front Porch String Band released a self-titled, nationally distributed album on Rebel, while Claire released her solo debut, Breakin' It, on the smaller Ambush label.
When Lynch became pregnant with the first of two children in 1982, she and her husband disbanded the Front Porch String Band and settled in northern Alabama. Although Larry returned to college to earn a degree in accounting and Claire took a job in university administration, they soon began performing again in the clubs of Huntsville. A turning point came when they met John Starling, the former lead singer of the Seldom Scene, who had left music to becoming a practicing physician. Starling took the Lynches under his wing and helped them sharpen their skills as performers, as well as promoting Claire Lynch's songwriting by sending copies of her songs to a Nashville publisher. As a result, Lynch's songs were soon covered by Stephanie Davis ("Moonlighter"), Patty Loveless ("Some Morning Soon"), and Kathy Mattea ("Hills of Alabam'"), and she was signed by Polygram to a staff writing contract.
In 1990, Claire and Larry Lynch formed a new version of the Front Porch String Band. The following year, the band released its comeback album, Lines & Traces. In subsequent years the lineup of the re-formed group has featured such musicians as Michael McLain, formerly of the McLain Family Band, on banjo, mandolin, and vocals; Missy Raines, formerly of Eddie & Martha Adcock's band, on upright bass; and Jim Hurst, who previously played with the touring bands of Holly Dunn and Trisha Yearwood, on guitar and vocals.
Claire Lynch's second solo album, Friends for a Lifetime, released in 1993 and reissued in 1995, was a celebration of gospel music. Her 1995 album, Moonlighter, was nominated for a Grammy Award as Best Bluegrass Album. Silver and Gold was released in 1997. Lovelight followed in the spring of 2000, and Out in the Country was issued a year later. In March of 2006, after a six-year hiatus, Lynch released New Day on Rounder Records, following it up three years later in 2009 with a second Rounder release, Whatcha Gonna Do. In addition to singing on her solo albums and recordings with the Front Porch String Band, Claire has sung on albums by Ralph Stanley, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Patty Loveless, Dolly Parton, John Starling, and Pam Tillis. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi