Award-winning singer-songwriter Tift Merritt joins us this year as the CHW Performing Artist in Residence. She will immerse herself in our work recovering the material history of Dix Hospital and the lives of some of the tens of thousands of North Carolinians who were treated there between 1856 and 2012. Her goal is to write a song cycle reflecting the human experience of the site and eventually to perform it at Dix Park.
On UNC’s University Day (October 12, 2018), Tift was presented with a Distinguished Alumna Award. In announcing the award, the selection committee noted:
Tift Merritt is a Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter who began her career in local venues such as Cat’s Cradle and The Cave and soon began appearing on top-ten lists in The New Yorker and Time. Since starting a band while a creative writing student at Carolina, Merritt has released a unique, critically acclaimed body of work including seven albums of original material and three live records. Merritt has been compared to Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris and has been covered by Don Henley, featuring Mick Jagger.
In her nearly 20-year career, Merritt has toured the world and shared the stage with artists as varied as Iron & Wine, Nick Lowe, and Jason Isbell. She collaborated with classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein for the album Night and played harmonic foil and rhythm guitar for Andrew Bird in his old-time band Hands of Glory. Most recently, Merritt has been a regular contributor to the Oxford American, chronicling her 2017 tours with her young daughter, Jean.