Greta Gaines

Daughter of writer and outdoorsman Charles Gaines and visual artist Patricia Ellisor Gaines, musician Greta Gaines grew up on a rural farm, attending boarding school in western Massachusetts at Northfield Mount Hermon School and college at Georgetown University, graduating with a degree in American studies. Though Gaines didn't start writing songs until the age of 22, she picked up on it quickly and chose to pursue music instead of law school. Also a serious athlete, Gaines lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, trying to balance sports with singing, and doing quite well, winning the Women's Extreme Snowboarding World Championship in 1992, which led to a job co-hosting the 1997 men's and women's Big Air Snowboard Competition for MTV's Sports and Music Festival. Despite her success in athletics, Gaines didn't want to abandon singing, so she moved to Nashville to attempt to start her career there. Though she earned a deal with Giant Records, unfortunate circumstances left her with 40 masters and no contract. Never one to be discouraged, Gaines started her own label, Big Air Records, releasing her debut self-titled album in 1999 (its songs taken from the Giant recordings), and appearing on the Village Stage at Lilith Fair the same year. In 2001, she composed the soundtrack for director Joe Maggio's independent film Virgil Bliss and starred in the Oxygen Network's series Freeride with Greta Gaines, a show that lasted for three seasons, after which she released her second album, It Was Hot, in 2004. The multi-talented musician/athlete found more work both on ESPNOutdoors' BassCenter and The New American Sportsman, and in 2006, Gaines issued the EP Can't Kill the Flavor, which had production help from her brother Shelby Shook and his group the Pengwinz. The album departed somewhat from the Southern country-rock of her previous records, paying more attention instead to how instrumentation can be built inside the studio. 2008's Whiskey Thoughts saw Gaines returning to that hard roots/Americana sound, as did 2013's acclaimed Lightghouse & the Impossible Love. After the latter LP's release, Gaines shifted her focus to raising her sons, and continued to fight for the legalization of cannabis as an advisory board member of NORML and a face of Women Grow. After the results of the 2016 election, she felt compelled to begin writing again, resulting in 2017's evocative Tumbleweed, a seven-song EP recorded in Nashville with longtime musical partner and engineer Eric Fritsch, that explored themes of nostalgia and individual liberty. ~ Marisa Brown

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