Joy Williams (singer)

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Joy Williams
Williams performing, 2011
Joy Elizabeth Williams

(1982-11-14) November 14, 1982 (age 41)
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
Years active2000–present
Nate Yetton
(m. 2004; div. 2019)
Ted Woods
(m. 2022)
Musical career
GenresContemporary Christian, pop, folk rock
Instrument(s)Vocals, piano, concertina

Joy Elizabeth Williams (born November 14, 1982)[1] is an American singer-songwriter. The winner of four Grammy Awards, Williams has released five solo albums and four EPs since her self-titled debut in 2001. She was half of The Civil Wars duo from 2009 until 2014.

Early life[edit]

Williams was born in West Branch, Michigan, but raised in a Christian home in Mount Hermon in Santa Cruz County, California, where her parents worked in ministry.[2] She attended Valley Christian High School in San Jose and graduated as the class valedictorian in 2001.[3]

In addition to singing in church, Williams began writing faith-based pop songs while living in Santa Cruz. At 17, she was signed by Reunion Records, a subsidiary of Sony/BMG based in Brentwood, Tennessee.[4]

Williams cites Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Massive Attack, and Portishead as being her influences.[5]


Between 2001 and 2005, Williams was nominated for 11 Dove Awards, and the three records she released on Reunion cumulatively sold more than 250,000 copies.[6] In 2005, she left the label to expand her musical horizons.[7]

Williams traveled to Europe, worked briefly at Paste Magazine and then at a Nashville boutique. In 2006, she signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell music, and in 2008 she co-founded an artist development firm, Sensibility Music, as a vehicle for her career development. That same year Oscar Mayer selected her song "It Doesn't Get Better Than This" for a 2008 marketing campaign.[8] Williams subsequently released three EPs through Sensibility Music. The songs "Charmed Life", "Speaking a Dead Language", and "Sunny Day", were featured on the TV show Grey's Anatomy.[4][9]

The Civil Wars[edit]

In 2008, Williams attended a writing camp in Nashville, where she met John Paul White. They formed the folk rock duo the Civil Wars in 2009 and released their breakthrough album, Barton Hollow, in 2011. The album was widely praised by critics[10] and went on to sell more than 650,000 copies in the U.S.[11] White and Williams won four Grammy Awards as the Civil Wars.

The duo announced an indefinite hiatus in November 2012, prior to the release of their 2013 self-titled album.[6][better source needed][12][13] The duo was officially dissolved in August 2014[14][15] and in March 2015, Williams said her last conversation with White was after their Roundhouse show in London in November 2012.[5]

In 2023, they individually participated in a re-recording of "Safe & Sound" with Taylor Swift, credited under their individual names.[16]

Music and acting[edit]

Late in 2013, Williams collaborated with Chris Cornell on the song "Misery Chain", which they performed on Late Show with David Letterman.[17] She also collaborated with Matt Berninger from The National on "Hush", the theme song for Turn.[18][19] Williams and Hayley Williams (no relation) of the rock band Paramore collaborated on a new version of Paramore's "Hate to See Your Heart Break".[20]

Williams began working on a solo album, Venus, in 2014, ultimately releasing the record the following year.[5][21]

Williams made her acting debut in 2016 in an episode of Roadies[22] and her recording of The Chainsmokers' "Don't Let Me Down" was used for a State Farm commercial in 2017.[23]

In 2018, while pregnant with her second child, Williams recorded fifteen songs in a five-day period;[24] of those fifteen songs, twelve were included on her Kenneth Pattengale-produced album, Front Porch, released on May 3, 2019.

Personal life[edit]

On June 12, 2004, Williams married Nate Yetton. Williams and Yetton have a son born June 30, 2012; and a daughter born August 6, 2018.[25][26] In an interview with Pop Matters, Williams stated that she and her husband had "decided to part ways" in early 2019.[27] Williams married Ted Woods in October 2022.[28]



The Civil Wars[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominee Result Ref.
2006 Dove Awards Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year Genesis Nominated
Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year "Hide" Nominated
2011 CMT Music Awards Duo Video of the Year "Barton Hollow" Nominated
Americana Music Association New/Emerging Artist of the Year The Civil Wars Nominated
Duo/Group of the Year Nominated
Country Music Association Awards Vocal Duo of the Year Nominated
ASCAP Awards ASCAP Vanguard Award Won
2012 Grammy Award Best Folk Album Barton Hollow Won
Best Country Duo/Group Performance "Barton Hollow" Won
CMT Music Awards Video of the Year "Safe & Sound" (as featuring) Nominated
Collaborative Video of the Year Nominated
Duo Video of the Year "Poison & Wine" Nominated
Americana Music Association Duo/Group of the Year The Civil Wars Won
A2IM Libera Awards Album of the Year Barton Hollow Nominated
Country Music Association Awards Vocal Duo of the Year The Civil Wars Nominated
Musical Event of the Year "Safe & Sound" (as featuring) Nominated
2013 Grammy Award Best Country Duo/Group Performance Nominated
Best Song Written for Visual Media Won
Golden Globe Award Best Original Song Nominated
2014 Grammy Award Best Country Duo/Group Performance "From This Valley" Won
2019 Grammy Award Best Folk Album Front Porch Nominated


  1. ^ Maffeo, Kerry (October 1, 2001). "Opening Acts: Get to Know Joy Williams" (PDF). CCM Magazine: 24. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 10, 2012. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  2. ^ "Roger Williams Obituary". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  3. ^ Sanzgiri, Shona. "A little country, a little Santa Cruz: Former resident Joy Williams enjoys musical success with Civil Wars" Archived February 26, 2014, at the Wayback Machine The Santa Cruz Sentinel. March 13, 2012
  4. ^ a b Gold, Adam (November 10, 2011). "How The Civil Wars fought for artistic independence and broadsided Music Row". Nashville Scene. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Mansfield, Brian (March 31, 2015). "Post-Wars, Williams is a new 'Woman'". USA Today.
  6. ^ a b Kittle, Ashleigh. "Joy Williams Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
  7. ^ Uhelski, Jaan. "The Surrender of Joy Williams" (PDF). The Fire Theft Project. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
  8. ^ Clifford, Stephanie (January 14, 2010). "Oscar Mayer Counts on the Joy, Not the Jingles". New York Times. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  9. ^ Clarendon, Dan. "Grey's Anatomy Music". Wet Paint. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  10. ^ "Barton Hollow - The Civil Wars". Metacritic. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
  11. ^ "Barton Hollow Sales". RIAA. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
  12. ^ McKinley, James C. (October 25, 2011). "Their Year of Living Almost Famously". The New York Times. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  13. ^ Hoby, Hermione (March 3, 2012). "The Civil Wars: 'I feel we pull from each other's world'". The Guardian. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  14. ^ Lopez, Korina (August 5, 2014). "The Civil Wars are Officially Over". USA Today. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
  15. ^ Mansfield, Brian (June 30, 2011). "On the Verge: The Civil Wars". USA Today.
  16. ^ MacCary, Julia (March 16, 2023). "Taylor Swift Is Dropping Four Unreleased Songs Ahead of Her Eras Tour Start". Variety. Retrieved March 16, 2023.
  17. ^ Leahy, Andrew (December 20, 2013). "Chris Cornell and The Civil Wars' Joy Williams Team Up For "Misery Chain"". American Songwriter. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  18. ^ Breihan, Tom (April 14, 2014). "Joy Williams & Matt Berninger – "Hush"". Stereogum. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  19. ^ Gordon, Jeremy (April 4, 2014). "The National's Matt Berninger and Civil Wars' Joy Williams Sing Theme for AMC's 'Turn'". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  20. ^ Powers, Ann (November 24, 2014). "Paramore feat. Joy Williams, 'Hate To See Your Heart Break'". NPR. Retrieved December 1, 2014.
  21. ^ Nicholson, Jessica (April 14, 2014). "The Civil Wars' Joy Williams Prepping Solo Album". Music Row. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  22. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Singer Joy Williams Makes Her Acting Debut on Showtime's 'Roadies' -- Watch Her NSFW Scene!". ETOnline. July 22, 2016. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  23. ^ "How Covering a Chainsmokers Song in a State Farm Commercial Helped Joy Williams Evolve". Billboard. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  24. ^ "Joy Williams on Her Brilliant New Album, 'Front Porch,' Civil Wars And Joni Mitchell". Forbes Magazine. May 1, 2019. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  25. ^ "Joy Williams Welcomes Son Miles Alexander". PEOPLE Magazine. July 1, 2012.
  26. ^ Juneau, Jen (August 6, 2018). "Joy Williams Welcomes Daughter Poppy Louise: 'We're So in Love with You, Poppy Lou'". PEOPLE Magazine.
  27. ^ "Finding Southern Comfort in Nashville: An Interview with Joy Williams". Pop Matters. May 3, 2019.
  28. ^ "Instagram".
  29. ^ Staff Writer Dine Alone Records retrieved 10/17/17
  30. ^ Jones, Kim. "37th Annual GMA Dove Awards Nominations & Winners]". Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  31. ^ "54th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominees And Winners".

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