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Performing solo, Custom House Stage, New Bedford Summerfest, 2006
Photo: Thom C.
|Birth name||Lorraine Giroux|
|Born||December 22, 1968|
Stoughton, Massachusetts, United States
Lorraine "Lori" McKenna (née Giroux; born December 22, 1968) is an American folk, Americana, and country music singer, songwriter, and performer. In 2016, she was nominated for the Grammy Award for Song of the Year and won Best Country Song for co-writing the hit single "Girl Crush" performed by Little Big Town. In 2017, she again won Best Country Song at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards for writing "Humble and Kind" performed by Tim McGraw. McKenna along with Lady Gaga, Natalie Hemby and Hillary Lindsey wrote the second single off the soundtrack to the 2018 film A Star Is Born called "Always Remember Us This Way.” McKenna performed backing vocals along with Lindsey and Hemby, and the song received a nomination for Song of the Year at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards.
Early and personal life
McKenna was born and raised in Stoughton, Massachusetts, where she still lives today. Her mother died when she was seven years old, a theme often touched on in her music. She met her husband, Gene McKenna, in third grade and married him at age 19. She has five children and has been married for more than 30 years.
McKenna first started writing lullabies to her children. Her brother, who first introduced her to the guitar, encouraged her to attend an open-mic night at the Old Vienna Kaffeehause in Westborough, Massachusetts in 1996. The organizer heard her play and encouraged her to come back, becoming her informal manager and booking shows for her around Boston.
Songwriting and music career
McKenna was managed by Gabriel Unger from 2000 to 2004. During this time, she released her first four albums under Signature Sounds and developed a folk music fan base in the Northeast. She won awards at the Boston Music Awards, and performed at the Sundance Film Festival.
In 2004, singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier introduced McKenna's album Bittertown to her Nashville friends. Upon hearing it, Faith Hill stalled her completed 2005 record Fireflies to replace tracks with covers of McKenna's songs. Hill and husband Tim McGraw became McKenna's champions and asked her to tour with them in 2006. Hill took McKenna to perform with her on the Oprah Winfrey Show. McGraw helped bring McKenna to Warner Bros. Nashville in 2007 and produced her album Unglamorous. Following the lackluster sales, she parted ways with Warner Bros. She then signed with Universal Music Group Publishing in 2009 and independently released her next album Lorraine in 2011.
Since then, McKenna has become "one of the industry’s most in-demand songwriters." She has written songs for artists including Sara Evans, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, and Keith Urban. She wrote 10 songs that made it to the Billboard Hot Country list, including Hunter Hayes' "I Want Crazy", Faith Hill’s "Stealing Kisses", Tim McGraw’s "Humble and Kind"; and Little Big Town's "Your Side of the Bed", "Sober", and "Girl Crush."
McKenna writes solo and co-writes with songwriters Hillary Lindsay and Liz Rose. The group wrote the song "Girl Crush", and it became a hit for the band Little Big Town. The song received Grammy nominations for both Song of the Year and Best Country Song, winning the latter in 2016. The song was nominated for Song of the Year Song at the Academy of Country Music Awards, and won Song of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards.
McKenna won another Grammy the next year for Best Country Song for "Humble and Kind" by Tim McGraw. McKenna wrote the song as "lullaby, guidebook, and tribute" to her five children. The song was named Song of the Year at the 2016 CMA Awards and won favorite country song at the American Music Awards the same year. In 2017, "Humble and Kind" was nominated for Song of the Year and Single Record of the Year at the ACM Awards. McKenna was named Songwriter of the Year at the ACM's that same year.
McKenna has received critical acclaim for her album The Bird and the Rifle. The album was produced by Dave Cobb and nominated for Best Americana Album at the 59th annual Grammy Awards, and the single "Wreck You" was nominated for Best American Roots Song and Best American Roots Performance. McKenna was nominated for the 2017 Americana Music Awards Artist of the Year. Her 10th studio album, The Tree, was produced by Dave Cobb and released in summer 2018 through Thirty Tiger Records.
In 2015, McKenna was signed to a management and publishing deal with Creative Nation, a Nashville-based company owned and operated by songwriter Luke Laird and his wife Beth. On September 25, 2018, McKenna signed a publishing deal with Creative Nation for a three-year deal.
In 2020, McKenna released her eleventh album, The Balladeer, through CN Records and Thirty Tigers. Music critic Robert Christgau hailed it as "the most consistently top-notch album of her late-blooming career".
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions||Sales|
|US Country |
|Paper Wings and Halo|| ||—||—||—||—||—|
|Pieces of Me|| ||—||—||—||—||—|
|The Kitchen Tapes || ||—||—||—||—||—|
|Numbered Doors|| ||—||—||25||13||—|
|The Bird and the Rifle|| ||19||—||6||4||15|| |
|The Tree|| ||39||—||1||9||4|| |
|The Balladeer|| ||—||—||20||25||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
|2004||Carol Laula||To Let||"Broken Inside"|
|2005||Faith Hill||Fireflies||"If You Ask"|
|Sara Evans||Real Fine Place||"Bible Song"|
|2007||Tim McGraw||Let It Go||"I’m Workin’"||Darrell Scott|
|Mandy Moore||Wild Hope||"Most of Me"||Mandy Moore|
|"Latest Mistake||Mandy Moore|
|Jimmy Ryan||Fun with Music||"My Last Whiskey Song"||Jimmy Ryan|
|2008||Vance Gilbert||Up on Rockfield||"House of Prayer"||Vance Gilbert|
|Jimmy Wayne||Do You Believe Me Now||"True Believer"||Liz Rose|
|Heidi Newfield||What I Am Waiting For||"Wreck You"||Edward McTeigue|
|2009||Mandy Moore||Amanda Leigh||"Everblue"||Mandy Moore|
|Alexandra Samson||Takin’ My Time||"I See Smoke"||Liz Rose|
|"I Don’t Think I Deserve This"||Liz Rose|
|2010||Ashley Ray||Ashley Ray||"Figured it Out"|
|Keith Urban||Get Closer||"The Luxury of Knowing"|
|Melissa Ferrick||Enough About Me||"How to be Righteous"|
|2011||Melissa Rae Barrie||Breakaway||"Adore Her"||Mandy Moore|
|Steel Magnolia||Steel Magnolia||"Bullet Proof"||Chris Tompkins|
|Sunny Sweeney||Concrete||"The Old Me"||Mark D. Sanders|
|Alison Krauss||Paper Airplane||"My Love Follows You Where You Go"||Barry Dean; Liz Rose|
|2012||Ashley Monroe||Like a Rose||"The Morning After"||Ashley Monroe; Liz Rose|
|Trent Dabbs||Southerner||"Can I Cross Your Mind"||Trent Dabbs|
|Mindy Smith||Mindy Smith||"Devils Inside"||Mindy Smith|
|Buffy Lawson||I’m Leaving You for Me||"Lightning in a Bottle"||Ashley Monroe; Liz Rose|
|Meghan Sheehan||About Love||"Break Me in Two"||Liz Rose; Jesse Sheely|
|Walt Wilkins||Plenty||"Gray Hawk"||Liz Rose; Walt Wilkins|
|2013||Hunter Hayes||Encore||"I Want Crazy"||Hunter Hayes, Troy Verges|
|Little Big Town||Tornado||"Your Side of the Bed"||Karen Fairchild; Kimberly Schlapman; Phillip Sweet; Jimi Westbrook|
|"Sober"||Hillary Lindsay; Liz Rose|
|Drew Kennedy||Wide Listener||"Rose of Jericho"||Drew Kennedy|
|"Sleeping Alone"||Drew Kennedy|
|Trent Dabbs||The Way We Look at Horses||"Natural Causes"||Trent Dabbs|
|Holly Williams||The Highway||"Without You"||Holly Williams|
|2014||Little Big Town||Pain Killer||"Tumble and Fall"||Karen Fairchild; Hillary Lindsay; Liz Rose; Kimberly Schlapman;|
|"Save Your Sin"||Hillary Lindsay; Liz Rose|
|Caitlyn Smith||Everything to You EP||"Everything to You"||Liz Rose; Caitlyn Smith|
|"Grown Woman"||Liz Rose; Caitlyn Smith|
|Angaleena Presley||American Middle Class||"Grocery Store"||Angaleena Presley|
|Wade Bowen||Wade Bowen||"Long Enough to be a Memory"||Wade Bowen; Ashley Ray|
|Doc Walker||The 8th||"That’s How I Like It"||Liz Rose; Nathan Chapman|
|Antigone Rising||Whiskey & Wine Vol. 1||"That was the Whiskey"||Nini Camps Cathy Henderson; Kristen Henderson|
|"Call Me Crazy"||Nini Camps Cathy Henderson; Kristen Henderson|
|Jill Johnson||Songs for Daddy||"No Other Daddy but You"||Lisa Carver; Jill Johnson; Liz Rose|
|2015||Little Big Town||Pain Killer||"Girl Crush"||Hillary Lindsey; Liz Rose|
|Antigone Rising||Whiskey & Wine Vol. 2||"Game Changer"||Nini Camps Cathy Henderson; Kristen Henderson|
|"My Town"||Nini Camps Cathy Henderson; Kristen Henderson|
|RaeLynn||Me EP||"God Made Girls"||Nicolle Galyon; RaeLynn; Liz Rose|
|Amber Lawrence||I Will Love You – Single||"I Will Love You"||Phil Barton; Kylie Sackley|
|Reba McEntire||Love Somebody||"Until They Don’t Love You"||Shane McAnally; Josh Osborne|
|Hunter Hayes||The 21 Project||"Saint or A Sinner"||Barry Dean; Hunter Hayes|
|2016||Tim McGraw||Damn Country Music||"Humble and Kind"|
|LeAnn Rimes||Remnants||"How To Kiss A Boy"||Barry Dean|
|Brandy Clark||Big Day in a Small Town||"Three Kids No Husband"||Brandy Clark|
|Native Run||When I’m Taken EP||"BIC Lighter"||Barry Dean; Luke Laird|
|David Nail||Fighter||Home||Barry Dean; David Nail|
|Kree Harrison||"This Old Thing"||The Time I’ve Wasted||Liz Rose; Jesse Walker|
|2017||Little Big Town||The Breaker||"When Someone Stops Loving You"||Hillary Lindsey; Chase McGill|
|"Happy People"||Hailey Whitters|
|"Free"||Barry Dean; Natalie Hemby; Luke Laird|
|"Lost in California"||Hillary Lindsay; Liz Rose;|
|"Don’t Die Young, Don’t Get Old"||Karen Fairchild; Hillary Linsey; Liz Rose; Kimberly Schlapman;|
|Eli Young Band||"Skin & Bones"||Skin & Bones||Phil Barton; Mike Eli|
|Jillian Jacqueline||God Bless This Mess||God Bless this Mess||Tofer Brown; Jillian Jacqueline|
|Tim McGraw & Faith Hill||The Rest of Our Life||"The Bed We Made"||Hillary Lindsey; Liz Rose|
|"Damn Good at Holding On"||Barry Dean|
|The Cadillac Three||Legacy||"American Slang"||Jaren Johnston; Neil Mason|
|"Love Me like Liquor feat. Lori McKenna"||Jaren Johnston; Neil Mason|
|Sunny Sweeney||Trophy||"Nothing Wrong with Texas"||Sunny Sweeney|
|"Grow Old with Me"||Sunny Sweeney|
|Natalie Stovall||Wine or Whiskey - Single||"Wine or Whiskey"||Andrew Dorf; Jimi Westbook|
|Brandon Rhyder||Brandon Rhyder||"They Need Each Other"||Brandon Rhyder|
|2018||Carrie Underwood||Cry Pretty||"Cry Pretty"||Hillary Lindsey; Liz Rose; Carrie Underwood|
|Glen Phillips||Swallowed by the New||"Nobody’s Gonna Get Hurt"||Glen Phillips|
|Jillian Jacqueline||Sad Girls||"Sad Girls"||Jillian Jacqueline; Tofer Brown|
|2019||Sara Bareilles||Amidst the Chaos||"Miss Simone"||Sara Bareilles|
|"A Safe Place to Land"|
Awards and nominations
- "Lori McKenna biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
- Helman, Scott (March 11, 2012). "Stoughton's Lori McKenna is Writing her Heart Out". Boston Globe.
- Barbuto, Dana (February 16, 2016). "Stoughton's Lori McKenna Wins Grammy Award". Wicked Local - Winchester Star.
- Finan, Eileen (November 2, 2016). "Watch 'Humble & Kind' Songwriter Lori McKenna Sing the CMA-Winning Tim McGraw Hit She Wrote". People.com.
- Staff (February 12, 2017). "Lori McKenna, a Yankee at Home in Country Music's Capital". CBS News.
- Gleason, Holly (August 31, 2007). "Lori McKenna: Dreams of an Everyday Housewife". No Depression: The Journal of Roots Music. Archived from the original on August 20, 2018. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
- "Boston Music Awards 07". www.bostonmusicawards07.com. Retrieved 2018-08-20.
- "2005 Sundance Film Festival - ASCAP Music Cafe with Anna Nalick, Lori McKenna, Los Pinguos, Suzanne Vega and Ricki Lee Jones". Getty Images (in Dutch). Retrieved 2018-08-20.
- Rodman, Sarah (September 19, 2016). "Lori McKenna Stays Humble about Success, Nominations". LA Times.
- Kruse, Carolyn (February 6, 2016). "Get to Know: The Hometown Girl behind "Girl Crush," Lori McKenna". Country 102.5.
- Staff. "Three Women and the Truth". Adelphi University Performing Arts Center.
- Trust, Gary (April 12, 2016). "Lori McKenna Brings the Solo Songwriter Back to No. 1 on Hot Country Songs". Billboard.
- Takeda, Allison (April 3, 2016). "ACM Awards 2016: Nominees and Winners List!". Us Weekly. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
- Stefano, Angela (November 3, 2016). "2016 CMA Awards Winners — Full List". The Boot. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
- Thanki, Juli (February 12, 2017). "Grammys: Lori McKenna Wins Best Country Song". Tennessean.
- Hautman, Nicholas (April 2, 2017). "ACM Awards 2017: Complete List of Nominees and Winners". Us Weekly. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
- "Grammy Awards 2017: See the Full Winners List". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
- Stefano, Angela (May 9, 2017). "2017 Americana Music Awards Nominees — Full List". The Boot. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
- McKenna, Britney (July 12, 2018). "Lori McKenna's 'The Tree' Documents What Happens Between Life". NPR.
- Christgau, Robert (August 12, 2020). "Consumer Guide: August, 2020". And It Don't Stop. Substack. Retrieved August 12, 2020.
- "Lori McKenna Album & Song Chart History - Country Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
- "Lori McKenna Album & Song Chart History - Billboard 200". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
- "Lori McKenna Album & Song Chart History - Heatseekers Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
- "Lori McKenna Album & Song Chart History - Folk Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
- "Lori McKenna Album & Song Chart History - Independent Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
- "Paper Wings and Halo". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
- "The Kitchen Tapes". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
- Bjorke, Matt (August 29, 2016). "Top 10 Country Album Sales Chart: August 29, 2016". Roughstock.
- Bjorke, Matt (August 15, 2018). "The Top 10 Country Albums: August 14, 2018". Roughstock. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
- "Lori McKenna credits". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
- Betts, Stephen L.; Betts, Stephen L. (2016-09-13). "Hear LeAnn Rimes' Vulnerable New Song 'How to Kiss a Boy'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
- Stefano, Angela (November 5, 2015). "2015 CMA Awards Winners — Complete List". The Boot. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
- Cadden, Mary (February 16, 2016). "List: Who won what at the 58th annual Grammys". USA Today. Retrieved February 16, 2016.
- Official website
- Lori McKenna: An 'Unglamorous' Star Is Born : NPR Music
- Lori McKenna Live in Studio from WGBH Radio Boston