Shelby Lynne Biography

Singer, Musician (1968–)
Shelby Lynne is a Grammy-winning country singer who gained acclaim for her album "I Am Shelby Lynne" and went on to found her own record label. She’s also appeared as Johnny Cash’s mother in the film 'Walk The Line.'


Shelby Lynne was born in Quantico, Virginia and raised in a musical household in Alabama. Moving to Nashville after high school, Lynne soon landed a record deal and cut her first album, Sunrise. After more than a decade in the industry, the singer landed her first Grammy Award for her 1999 release, I Am Shelby Lynne, ironically for Best New Artist. Eventually, Lynne started her own record label, Everso Records. Lynne has steadily built her fan base along with her label with albums such as Just a Little Lovin' and Revelation Road.

Early Years

Shelby Lynne Moorer was born in Quantico, Virginia, on October 22, 1968, and raised in Frankville, Alabama. She came from a musical family and her house was filled with the sounds of classic country music as well as The Beatles and Elvis. Her mother was a natural singer, and her father began teaching her to play guitar around age seven. Lynne once said in an interview, “I was singing before I could talk.”

Tragically, when Lynne was 17, she and younger sister Allison were inside their home when their father, estranged from the family at this point, shot and killed their mother on the front lawn and then turned the gun on himself.

Move to Nashville

After high school, Lynne married her high school sweetheart and decided to leave her Alabama life behind, and the pair packed their bags for Nashville in 1989, so she could pursue her musical dreams. Once in Tennessee, Lynne met veteran songwriter Bob Tubert, and she gave him her demo tape. Tubert liked it and played it for the TV producer of Nashville Network's Nashville Now, who invited Lynne to perform on the show. The performance caught the attention of CBS Records, and Lynne was offered a contract with the label.

Over the next three years, Lynne produced an album a year: Sunrise (1989), Tough All Over (1990) and Soft Talk (1991), landing a few hits along the way. In 1991, she won the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Female Vocalist award.

Change of Pace: 'I Am Shelby Lynne'

Never complacent, after two more albums, Lynne became hungry for a change from the Nashville system, and for her next album she enlisted producer Bill Bottrell, who had worked with such artists as Michael Jackson, Madonna and Sheryl Crow. The resulting album, I Am Shelby Lynne (1999), recorded far away from Nashville on the Northern California coast, earned Lynne the Grammy for Best New Artist in 2000—which was especially poignant as she had been in the music business nearly 13 years.

(Around this time, sister and fellow country crooner Allison Moorer released her own debut album, Alabama Song, in 1998, with later albums including 2002's Miss Fortune, 2006's Getting Somewhere and 2010's Crows, among others.)  

Love, Shelby was released in 2001, followed by two self-produced albums: Identity Crisis (2003) and Suit Yourself (2005). Just a Little Lovin’, her critically acclaimed tribute to Dusty Springfield, was released in 2008. And the same year Suit Yourself came out, Lynne made her acting debut in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, playing Cash's mother. She has also appeared on the TV shows Head Case (2007) and Army Wives (2009).

'Revelation Road' and Holiday Album

Again showcasing her need to take a different path, Lynne founded her own label, Everso Records, and its first release, Tears, Lies, and Alibis, debuted at No. 16 on Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart in April 2010. The album resonated with critics as well, and Newsday called it “her strongest album in a decade.” After this critical success, Lynne released her first-ever holiday collection, Merry Christmas, in time for 2010's holiday season.

In 2011, Everso released Revelation Road, and Lynne headed out on a year-long solo acoustic tour. In 2013, a five-song EP, Thanks, came out to rave reviews from the likes of Mother Jones and The New York Times. Lynne said of the album: “These songs are a way to express my love and gratitude to the universe and to all of the music appreciating souls out there for the friendship and fellowship that music brings us.” 

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Shelby Lynne (Photo: Dan Lapone)

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