Amanda Shires

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Amanda Shires
Amanda Shires performing in October 2022
Amanda Shires performing in October 2022
Background information
Birth nameAmanda Rose Shires[1]
Born (1982-03-05) March 5, 1982 (age 42)
Lubbock, Texas
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
  • fiddle
  • autoharp
  • ukulele
  • tenor guitar
Years active1997–present
Member ofThe 400 Unit, The Highwomen
(m. 2013; div. 2024)

Amanda Rose Shires (born March 5, 1982) is an American singer-songwriter and fiddle player. Shires has released seven solo albums starting in 2005, her most recent being Take It Like a Man in 2022. In 2019, she founded a country music supergroup called The Highwomen alongside Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris and Natalie Hemby and has also performed as a member of the Texas Playboys, Thrift Store Cowboys, and Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, as well as in a duo with Rod Picott. Along with Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Shires won the Grammy Award for Best Americana Album for their 2017 album The Nashville Sound.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Following her parents' divorce, Shires' childhood was divided between the Texas cities of Lubbock and Mineral Wells.[5] Her mother is a retired nurse. She also used to be a barrel racer at rodeos.[6] Her father owns a wholesale nursery in Mineral Wells and has a hobby of gold prospecting in Alaska.[6] She is distantly related to noted photographer Erica Shires, who produced the video for the song "Swimmer".[7]

At the age of 10, she happened to be with her father while he was shopping for hunting gear at a pawn shop in Mineral Wells.[6][8] She saw an inexpensive Chinese-made fiddle for sale and her father agreed to buy it for her on the condition that she learn to play it.[6][8][9] It took a while for her to play it well; she usually practiced outside because her dog had a habit of howling while she played.[10] When she was 12, she started taking fiddle lessons in Lubbock from Lanny Fiel, who knew Frankie McCourter from the Texas Playboys.[11] She then started learning fiddle from McCourter and was later invited to play at the band's shows.[11] At the age of 15, she joined the Texas Playboys, the former backing band for Western swing legend Bob Wills.[12]

Musical career[edit]

Shires performing in 2016.

Shires released her first solo album, the mostly instrumental Being Brave, in 2005. Four years later, having relocated to Nashville,[12] she released West Cross Timbers and in the same year released Sew Your Heart with Wires, a collaboration with Rod Picott. Her next solo album, Carrying Lightning was released in 2011, followed by Down Fell The Doves in August 2013 and My Piece of Land in September 2016. The latter proved to be Shires' breakthrough, gaining her a nomination from the Americana Music Association.

She toured extensively with Picott from 2006.[13] She has also performed and recorded with Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Devotchka, Chris Isaak, Thrift Store Cowboys, Todd Snider, Blackberry Smoke, and Justin Townes Earle.[14]

In 2011, she appeared in the movie Country Strong as one of the musicians backing singer Kelly Canter, played by Gwyneth Paltrow.[15]

In 2011, Shires began attending Sewanee: The University of the South, a small liberal arts university in Sewanee, Tennessee.[16] She graduated with a Master's of Fine Arts in Poetry in 2017.[17][18][19]

In 2012, Shires was named Artist of the Year by Texas Music magazine, appearing on the publication's cover.

Shires won the Emerging Artist of the Year Award at the 2017 Americana Music Honors & Awards. In 2017, she supported John Prine on his worldwide tour alongside Isbell for select dates. In 2018, Shires announced that she was working on a new album, To The Sunset due for release on August 3, 2018[20] which, like My Piece of Land, would be produced by Dave Cobb. Isbell revealed on Twitter that Gillian Welch and David Rawlings will make a guest appearance.[21] As a member of the 400 Unit, Shires won the Grammy Award for Best Americana Album for The Nashville Sound. Shires contributed to The Tree of Forgiveness, the 2018 album by John Prine.[22] To The Sunset was released on August 3, 2018.

In 2019, Shires formed the country group The Highwomen, along with Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, and Maren Morris. "Redesigning Women" was the first single from their self-titled debut album released on September 6, 2019.[23] Following her 2021 holiday album For Christmas, Shires released her seventh solo album Take It Like a Man on July 26, 2022.

Musical style[edit]

David Menconi of the magazine Spin said that Shires "sings [...] like an earthbound Emmylou Harris",[15] and her vocals have been likened to those of Dolly Parton.[24][25] The imagery in her songwriting has been compared to that of Tom Waits.[5][25] Although her principal instrument is the fiddle, she also plays the ukulele.[25]

Personal life[edit]

Shires began dating fellow musician Jason Isbell in 2011. The couple married on February 23, 2013[26] and had their first child[27] on September 1, 2015.[28][29] She was previously in a relationship with singer Rod Picott.[30] In December 2023, Isbell filed for divorce from Shires.[31]


Solo albums[edit]

  • Being Brave (2005)
  • West Cross Timbers (2009)
  • Carrying Lightning (2011)
  • Down Fell the Doves (2013)
  • My Piece of Land (2016)
  • To the Sunset (2018)
  • For Christmas (2021)
  • Take It Like a Man (2022)

With Rod Picott[edit]

  • Sew Your Heart with Wires (2009)

With Jason Isbell[edit]

With the Highwomen[edit]

With Bobbie Nelson[edit]

Other appearances[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated Work Result
2017 Americana Music Honors & Awards Emerging Artist of the Year[citation needed] Amanda Shires Won
2018 Grammy Awards[3] Best Americana Album[3] The Nashville Sound[3] Won
UK Americana Awards International Album of the Year[citation needed] Won
2018 Americana Music Honors & Awards Duo/Group of the Year [citation needed] Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit Won
2019 Album of the Year[citation needed] To the Sunset Nominated
2020 Academy of Country Music Awards Group of the Year The Highwomen Nominated
CMT Awards Group Video of the Year "Crowded Table" Nominated

The song "When you Need a Train It Never Comes" from Carrying Lightning was ranked the fifth best song of 2011 by American Songwriter.[33]


  1. ^ "Songwriter/Composer: Shires Amanda Rose". BMI. Retrieved September 27, 2022.
  2. ^ Soto, Alfred (August 3, 2022). "Amanda Shires: Take It Like a Man". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 27, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d "GRAMMY Award Results for Amanda Shires". 2020-05-19. Retrieved 2020-09-23.
  4. ^ "60th Annual Grammy Awards", Wikipedia, 2020-08-17, retrieved 2020-09-23
  5. ^ a b Dansby, Andrew (May 3, 2011). "Amanda Shires makes expressive connection". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d Dougherty, Steve (August 1, 2013). "Amanda Shires: A Texas Prodigy Steps Out; She's on the Road With a New Album, Sometimes Appearing with Husband Jason Isbell". The Wall Street Journal.
  7. ^ Conway, Alanna (June 24, 2011). "Amanda Shires, 'Swimmer' – Video Premiere". Retrieved April 5, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Wilson, Calvin (August 15, 2004). "Amanda Shires strikes the right balance". St. Louis Post Dispatch.
  9. ^ Cornell, Rick (September 2009). "Amanda Shires, September 2009". Country Standard Time. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  10. ^ Thanki, Juli (September 15, 2016). "Amanda Shires celebrates new album at AmericanaFest". Tennessean.
  11. ^ a b Burton, Tommy (August 27, 2014). "Amanda Shires: Half-Fictitious Fiddler". Jackson Free Press.
  12. ^ a b Salamon, Jeff (May 2011). "Amanda Shires" (free registration required). Texas Monthly. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  13. ^ Cooper, Peter (July 3, 2011). "Rod Picott and Amanda Shires stay in sync as touring partners, couple". The Tennessean. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  14. ^ McCall, Tris (April 22, 2011). "Singer and violinist Amanda Shires to appear in Asbury Park". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  15. ^ a b Menconi, David. "Amanda Shires, 'Carrying Lightning'". Spin. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  16. ^ "No Strings Attached". July 15, 2013.
  17. ^ "Amanda Shires: From driving her van to sleeping in her own tour bus". The Clarion-Ledger.
  18. ^ Levenson, Luke (September 14, 2016). "Exclusive interview with Amanda Shires". Nashville Lifestyles.
  19. ^ "How poetry and fear influenced Amanda Shires' new album, 'To The Sunset'". Entertainment Weekly.
  20. ^ Shires, Amanda [@amandashires] (April 19, 2018). "August 3 y'all!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  21. ^ Isbell, Jason [@JasonIsbell] (January 13, 2018). "Gillian came by to sing on the @amandashires album today and it was so good buddies [Image]" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  22. ^ Ganz, Jacob (8 February 2018). "John Prine To Release His First Album Of New Songs In 13 Years". NPR.
  23. ^ "The Highwomen Light the Ultimate Bonfire in 'Redesigning Women' Video [Watch]". 19 July 2019.
  24. ^ Caligiuri, Jim (November 25, 2011). "Amanda Shires – Music Review". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  25. ^ a b c "Amanda Shires, Texas Playgirl". The Wall Street Journal. April 29, 2011. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  26. ^ Kerns, William (July 25, 2012). "Happily engaged Shires makes return appearance in hometown". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
  27. ^ Shires Isbell, Amanda [@amandashires] (September 6, 2015). "So happy and grateful to have Mercy Rose Isbell in the world. 📷- @nateburrell" (Tweet). Retrieved 2015-11-17 – via Twitter.
  28. ^ Spevak, Jeff (19 May 2015). "Jason Isbell: The craft of sadness at Water Street". Democrat & Chronicle. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  29. ^ Isbell, Jason (1 September 2015). "jasonisbell on Instagram: "Today"". Instagram. Archived from the original on 2021-12-24. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  30. ^ Zimmerman, Lee (August 18, 2016). "Amanda Shires Strikes Solo Magic On 'My Piece of Land' & Talks Family Life with Husband Jason Isbell". Glide Magazine. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  31. ^ Browne, David (February 7, 2024). "Jason Isbell Files for Divorce From Amanda Shires". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 8, 2024.
  32. ^ Mills, Fred (2 May 2013). "AMERICAN AQUARIUM – Burn. Flicker. Die". Blurt Magazine.
  33. ^ "American Songwriter's Top 50 Songs Of 2011". December 13, 2011. Retrieved April 5, 2012.

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