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Gillian Welch was born in New York City in 1967, and was adopted the same day. When she was four years old, her family moved to Los Angeles, where she would grow up. She picked up guitar around the age of seven and grew up making music. It was during college at UC Santa Cruz, however, where she became enamored with bluegrass music. She eventually moved to Boston and enrolled at the Berklee College of Music, where she met David Rawlings (who later became her musical partner). Together, Welch and Rawlings moved to Nashville in 1992, and got to work on their music career. Four years later, Welch released her first recording, Revival, which won a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Since then, she has received several other Grammy nominations, as well as IBMA awards.
In addition to her solo work, Gillian Welch has contributed work to several compilations and soundtracks, including the soundtrack for the Coen Brothers Movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?and the 2009 release of Dave Rawlings Machine's A Friend of a Friend.