For more than twenty years, singer-songwriter Gillian Welch has issued some of the most intimate, gorgeous songs of this generation. Her songwriting speaks to the unusual beauty and excruciating pain of the human condition, from the catastrophes and coincidences that fall on April 14, to a moonshiner’s ruinous career, to a girl being blessed with a dark turn of mind.
While plenty of music fans and institutions are keen on Welch’s inimitable songwriting power, UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of English and Comparative Literature has recognized her talents, too. Thus, she’ll be the recipient of the department’s annual Thomas Wolfe Prize, which honors extraordinary writers. She’s the first songwriter to earn the honor—past winners have included poet Sandra Cisneros and celebrated Southern novelists like Clyde Edgerton, Pat Conroy, Lee Smith, and Elizabeth Spencer.
On October 2, Welch will accept the prize and present a program titled “The Story in Song: Conversation and Music with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.” The program is free and open to the public, and you can find more information here.
Following the program at UNC, Welch plays a pair of shows at the Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw. Tickets to those shows are available here.