Lucinda Williams (born January 26, 1953) is an American rock, folk, blues and country music singer and songwriter. She recorded her first albums in 1978 and 1980 in a traditional country and blues style and received very little attention from radio, the media, or the public. In 1988, she released her self-titled album, Lucinda Williams. This release featured "Passionate Kisses", a song later recorded by Mary Chapin Carpenter which garnered Lucinda her first Grammy Award for Best Country Song in 1994. Known for working slowly, Lucinda recorded and released only one other album in the next several years (Sweet Old World in 1992) before her greatest success came in 1998 with Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. This album presented a broader scope of songs that fused rock, blues, country, and Americana into a more distinctive style that still managed to remain consistent and commercial in sound. It went gold and earned Lucinda another Grammy while being universally acclaimed by critics. Since Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, she has released a string of albums that have also been critically acclaimed, though none have sold in the numbers of her 1998 breakthrough. She was also named "America's best songwriter" by TIME magazine in 2002.
Williams was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the daughter of poet and literature professor Miller Williams and an amateur pianist. Her parents divorced in the mid-1960s with Williams' father gaining custody of her and her younger brother and sister. Her father worked as a visiting professor in Mexico and different parts of the American South including Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Jackson, Mississippi, and Utah before settling at the University of Arkansas. His daughter started writing when she was 6 years old and showed an affinity for music at an early age, and was playing guitar at 12. Williams's first live performance was in Mexico City at 17, as part of a duo with her friend, a banjo player named Clark Jones.
By her early 20s, Williams was playing publicly in Austin and Houston, Texas, concentrating on a folk-rock-country blend. She moved to Jackson, Mississippi, in 1978 to record her first album, for Smithsonian/Folkways Records. Titled Ramblin', it was a collection of country and blues covers. She followed it up in 1980 with Happy Woman Blues, which consisted of her own material. Neither album received much attention.