Lori McKenna

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Lori McKenna
McKenna in 2006
McKenna in 2006
Background information
Birth nameLorraine Giroux
Born (1968-12-22) December 22, 1968 (age 55)[1]
Stoughton, Massachusetts, U.S.
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active1998–present

Lorraine McKenna (née Giroux;[2] born December 22, 1968) is an American folk, Americana, and country music singer-songwriter. 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.[3] In 2017, she again won Best Country Song at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards for writing "Humble and Kind" performed by Tim McGraw.[4] 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[edit]

McKenna was born and raised in Stoughton, Massachusetts, where she still lives today.[5] 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[2] and married him at age 19. She has five children and has been married for more than 30 years.[5]

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.[2] The organizer heard her play and encouraged her to come back, becoming her informal manager and booking shows for her around Boston.[2]


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.[6] She won awards at the Boston Music Awards,[7] and performed at the Sundance Film Festival.[8]

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.[1][2] Hill and husband Tim McGraw became McKenna's champions and asked her to tour with them in 2006.[9] Hill took McKenna to perform with her on the Oprah Winfrey Show.[10] McGraw helped bring McKenna to Warner Bros. Nashville in 2007 and produced her album Unglamorous.[9] 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.[9]

Since then, McKenna has become "one of the industry’s most in-demand songwriters."[11] She has written songs for artists including Sara Evans, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, and Keith Urban.[10] 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."[12]

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.[9] The song received Grammy nominations for both Song of the Year and Best Country Song, winning the latter in 2016.[3] The song was nominated for Song of the Year Song at the Academy of Country Music Awards,[13] and won Song of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards.[14]

McKenna won another Grammy the next year for Best Country Song for "Humble and Kind" by Tim McGraw.[15] McKenna wrote the song as "lullaby, guidebook, and tribute" to her five children.[9] The song was named Song of the Year at the 2016 CMA Awards[9] and won favorite country song at the American Music Awards the same year.[4] 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.[16]

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.[17] McKenna was nominated for the 2017 Americana Music Awards Artist of the Year.[18] Her 10th studio album, The Tree, was produced by Dave Cobb and released in summer 2018 through Thirty Tiger Records.[19]

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.[9] 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".[20]

In 2020, McKenna co-wrote "A Beautiful Noise" with 7 other female writers - Alicia Keys, Brandi Carlile, Brandy Clark, Hillary Lindsey, Ruby Amanfu, Hailey Whitters and Linda Perry - and the song was performed by Alicia Keys and Brandi Carlile with the purpose of inspiring American voters to vote in the 2020 Presidential Election.[21]

In 2021, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift released her second re-recorded album Red (Taylor's Version), including a song called "I Bet You Think About Me" featuring Chris Stapleton. The song was written by Swift and McKenna in 2011.


Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales
US Country



Paper Wings and Halo[27]
  • Release date: March 24, 2000
  • Label: Gyrox Records / Catalyst Disc / Signature Sounds
Pieces of Me
The Kitchen Tapes [28]
  • Release date: February 10, 2004
  • Label: Gyrox Records
Unglamorous 19 109 1
Lorraine 196 5 6 30
Massachusetts 11 18
Numbered Doors
  • Release date: September 23, 2014
  • Label: Hoodie Songs
25 13
The Bird and the Rifle
  • Release date: July 29, 2016
  • Label: CN Records
19 6 4 15
The Tree 39 1 9 4
The Balladeer
  • Release date: July 24, 2020
  • Label: CN Records
20 25
  • Release date: July 21, 2023
  • Label: CN Records
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Year Artist Album Song Title[32] Co-Writers
2004 Carol Laula To Let "Broken Inside"
2005 Faith Hill Fireflies "If You Ask"
"Stealing Kisses"
"Lone Star"
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
"Can't You Just Adore Her?" Mandy Moore
"Swept Away" 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 Lindsey; 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 Lindsey; Liz Rose; Kimberly Schlapman
"Save Your Sin" Hillary Lindsey; 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"[33] 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 Lindsey; Liz Rose
"Don’t Die Young, Don’t Get Old" Karen Fairchild; Hillary Lindsey; 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
"Saint Honesty"
"A Safe Place to Land"
Lady Gaga A Star Is Born "Always Remember Us This Way" Lady Gaga; Natalie Hemby; Hillary Lindsey
2020 Mandy Moore Silver Landings "If That's What It Takes" Mandy Moore; Mike Viola; Taylor Goldsmith
Cam The Otherside "Forgetting You" Cam; Tyler Johnson; Mitch Rowland
"Like a Movie" Cam; Hillary Lindsey; Liz Rose
"Changes" Thomas Hull; Tyler Johnson; Harry Styles
The Highwomen Crowded Table "Crowded Table" Brandi Carlile; Natalie Hemby
Alicia Keys & Brandi Carlile A Beautiful Noise - Single "A Beautiful Noise" Alicia Keys; Brandi Carlile, Ruby Amanfu; Brandy Clark; Hillary Lindsey; Hailey Whitters and Linda Perry
2021 Taylor Swift Red (Taylor's Version) "I Bet You Think About Me" (featuring Chris Stapleton) Taylor Swift
2022 Maren Morris Humble Quest "Hummingbird" Maren Morris; Hillary Lindsey; and Liz Rose
Thomas Rhett Where We Started "The Hill" Jordan Reynolds; Emily Weisband

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
2015 Country Music Association Awards[34] Song of the Year "Girl Crush" Won
2016 Grammy Awards[35] Song of the Year Nominated
Best Country Song Won
Academy of Country Music Awards[13] Song of the Year Nominated
Country Music Association Awards[14] Song of the Year "Humble and Kind" Won
2017 Grammy Awards[17] Best Country Song Won
Best American Roots Performance "Wreck You" Nominated
Best American Roots Song Nominated
Best Americana Album The Bird and the Rifle Nominated
Academy of Country Music Awards[16] Songwriter of the Year Lori McKenna Won
Song of the Year "Humble and Kind" Nominated
Americana Music Honors & Awards[18] Artist of the Year Lori McKenna Nominated
Song of the Year "Wreck You" Nominated
2019 Grammy Awards[citation needed] Best Country Song "When Someone Stops Loving You" Nominated
Americana Music Honors & Awards[citation needed] Album of the Year The Tree Nominated
Song of the Year "People Get Old" Nominated
"By Degrees" (with Mark Erelli, Rosanne Cash, Sheryl Crow, Anaïs Mitchell and Josh Ritter) Nominated
2020 Grammy Awards[citation needed] Song of the Year "Always Remember Us This Way" Nominated
Best Country Song "It All Comes Out in the Wash" Nominated
2021 "Crowded Table" Won
2022 Song of the Year "A Beautiful Noise" Nominated
2023 Best Country Song "I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor's Version) (From the Vault)" Nominated


  1. ^ a b "Lori McKenna biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e Helman, Scott (March 11, 2012). "Stoughton's Lori McKenna is Writing her Heart Out". Boston Globe.
  3. ^ a b Barbuto, Dana (February 16, 2016). "Stoughton's Lori McKenna Wins Grammy Award". Wicked Local - Winchester Star.
  4. ^ a b Finan, Eileen (November 2, 2016). "Watch 'Humble & Kind' Songwriter Lori McKenna Sing the CMA-Winning Tim McGraw Hit She Wrote". People.com.
  5. ^ a b "Lori McKenna, a Yankee at Home in Country Music's Capital". CBS News. February 12, 2017.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "Boston Music Awards 07". www.bostonmusicawards07.com. Retrieved 2018-08-20.
  8. ^ "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.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Rodman, Sarah (September 19, 2016). "Lori McKenna Stays Humble about Success, Nominations". LA Times.
  10. ^ a b Kruse, Carolyn (February 6, 2016). "Get to Know: The Hometown Girl behind "Girl Crush," Lori McKenna". Country 102.5. Archived from the original on August 21, 2018. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  11. ^ "Three Women and the Truth". Adelphi University Performing Arts Center. 12 June 2023.
  12. ^ Trust, Gary (April 12, 2016). "Lori McKenna Brings the Solo Songwriter Back to No. 1 on Hot Country Songs". Billboard.
  13. ^ a b Takeda, Allison (April 3, 2016). "ACM Awards 2016: Nominees and Winners List!". Us Weekly. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  14. ^ a b Stefano, Angela (November 3, 2016). "2016 CMA Awards Winners — Full List". The Boot. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  15. ^ Thanki, Juli (February 12, 2017). "Grammys: Lori McKenna Wins Best Country Song". Tennessean.
  16. ^ a b Hautman, Nicholas (April 2, 2017). "ACM Awards 2017: Complete List of Nominees and Winners". Us Weekly. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  17. ^ a b "Grammy Awards 2017: See the Full Winners List". Billboard. 12 February 2017. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  18. ^ a b Stefano, Angela (May 9, 2017). "2017 Americana Music Awards Nominees — Full List". The Boot. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  19. ^ McKenna, Britney (July 12, 2018). "Lori McKenna's 'The Tree' Documents What Happens Between Life". NPR.
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (August 12, 2020). "Consumer Guide: August, 2020". And It Don't Stop. Substack. Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  21. ^ "Watch Alicia Keys and Brandi Carlile premiere new song 'A Beautiful Noise' | NME". NME | Music, Film, TV, Gaming & Pop Culture News. 2020-10-30. Retrieved 2020-12-27.
  22. ^ "Lori McKenna Album & Song Chart History - Country Albums". Billboard. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
  23. ^ "Lori McKenna Album & Song Chart History - Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
  24. ^ "Lori McKenna Album & Song Chart History - Heatseekers Albums". Billboard. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
  25. ^ "Lori McKenna Album & Song Chart History - Folk Albums". Billboard. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
  26. ^ "Lori McKenna Album & Song Chart History - Independent Albums". Billboard. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
  27. ^ "Paper Wings and Halo". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  28. ^ "The Kitchen Tapes". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  29. ^ Bjorke, Matt (August 29, 2016). "Top 10 Country Album Sales Chart: August 29, 2016". Roughstock.
  30. ^ Bjorke, Matt (August 15, 2018). "The Top 10 Country Albums: August 14, 2018". Roughstock. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  31. ^ "Hit Songwriter Lori McKenna Celebrates Life in New Album '1988'". 12 May 2023.
  32. ^ "Lori McKenna credits". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  33. ^ Betts, Stephen L. (2016-09-13). "Hear LeAnn Rimes' Vulnerable New Song 'How to Kiss a Boy'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  34. ^ Stefano, Angela (November 5, 2015). "2015 CMA Awards Winners — Complete List". The Boot. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  35. ^ Cadden, Mary (February 16, 2016). "List: Who won what at the 58th annual Grammys". USA Today. Retrieved February 16, 2016.

External links[edit]