An announcement

Music has been my church for as long as I can remember, and live performance has always been the thing that brings me closest to losing myself in the beauty and mystery of it all. Of all the aspects of my job, performing is the most ephemeral, the most of-the-moment. You can’t do it while you’re watching yourself. It’s a high wire act – and for a circus girl, that’s a nearly irresistible thing.

Nonetheless, after several years of soul searching, questioning, and yes, grieving – I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to say farewell to touring life. It has been an absolute joy to play on stages from Sydney, Australia to Aberdeen, Scotland to Portland, Oregon. It has been a privilege to sing my songs for you. It has been my deepest pleasure and I will miss so many things about the road. But I am ready to stop.

Without a doubt, the thing I’ll miss the most is you. You’ve kept my spirits up and my wheels rolling for decades. You’ve been willing to follow me through some rough territory, song-wise, knowing that we would find beauty together in the darkness – literally and figuratively. You’ve shown your big hearts over and over again, whether donating to a cause when I asked, or sending your love and concern when I lost a friend or family member or a beloved dog. Seeing some of you become close to each other, even while separated by oceans, has given me so much pleasure – to have been the catalyst that brought you together is an amazing thing. Together we’ve celebrated and grieved births, deaths, marriages, divorces, heartbreaks – just like any family. What an unexpected joy.

Barry and I will stop touring in June 2023, but we will not stop making music, and when the opportunity presents itself we may play a live show here and there, or a livestream from home. But we are saying goodbye to the kind of touring we’ve been doing for over 20 years now. We’re ready for a new chapter, one that involves less doing and more being. We’re looking forward to less time on social media, more time at home. Less carbon footprint, more footprints on the hiking trail. And while I’m on the subject of Barry Walsh, I need to say once again what I’ve said for over 30 years now: there’s no one on earth I’d rather make music with. Since the first recording session of mine he played on in 1990, since the first tour we did together in 2001, his sensitivity and intuition has been nothing short of inspiring. I still get a thrill waiting to hear what he’ll play next. It’s never the same, and it’s always just right. 

The music business has become increasingly, relentlessly demanding of artists. The pressure to release new “content” (not a synonym for art), to churn out singles and albums and videos and reels and posts on a prescribed schedule, often utterly out of sync with the artist’s internal one, isn’t producing more or greater art. It’s just increasing the noise and exhausting the artists. As someone who has always needed to let the field lie fallow in between creative bursts, I understand the pressure on young artists – and I hope they will resist. We need better songs, not more of them. We need artists who want to make art that lasts, not content that’s digested in the time it takes to scroll through your Instagram feed. I’m so grateful to have found you, an audience who understands this and has given me the grace to create on my own clock. My deepest thanks and love to all of you who have been coming – for years, and even decades – to share that sacred space in the dark with a song. 




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  1. We shall really miss your live performances, especially here in the UK. I last saw you at 3rd & Lindsey earlier this year with Wine Women & Song – (came backstage and said ‘hello’ with Alan Cackett) although seen you in UK several times. The atmosphere of your concerts are so pure, with importance on the telling of the story of the song. I once did a write up for Maverick Magazine after seeing you with W,W & S in Basingstoke. My most relevent observation was that everyone was so absorbed in your performance, you could hear a pin drop. I truly understand and support your reasons for no longer touring and wish you and Barry all the very best for the future. With the greatest of love and admiration for what you have achieved and will continue to achieve – Sandie Paine

  2. Good for you and Barry. It is the season for new adventures and breathing deeply. Thank you for the years of road touring. But most of all sharing your songs and bringing the intimate magic of playing each stage as if it was the first night of a tour. Opening yourself up to allowing our expression of appreciation and love for your artistry to be shared with you.
    The road does not go on forever, but our lives have been enriched with your songs for a lifetime.

  3. Oh, dearest Gretchen. This is not the news I wanted to wake up to this morning! Will miss you, Barry, the band and all the magic you create so very very much.
    Having said that, I totally understand your decision. We reach a time in our lives where we need to escape the madness that surrounds us and find whatever peace we can. I hope this heralds a new happy creative period for you, Barry and gorgeous Oliver, be you in Nashville, Florida or elsewhere in the world.
    Please don’t forget us here in the U.K.: you’re welcome anytime, whether you’re singing or not! Looking forward to seeing you later this month and at Sage Gateshead next May.
    Take care of yourselves,
    Love Chris. (Aka Gateshead Girl).

  4. Dear Gretchen at this time in my life I am also cutting back ( no more standing gigs) at the age of 66. I have followed you and seen you many times over the years. We have tickets for your show in Milton Keynes on the 1st September I will never be able to thank you for the Music over the years and good luck wiith not doing but being, kind regards Dave

  5. Wise choice dear Gretchen. To lose oneself in a boardroom, decision making and demanding productivity robotic anxiety. Be your creative artist and Barry too. Your music is your church. Let nothing separate you from that blessing. Oliver, you got your wish too. More momma time. God’s blessings on both of you for sharing so much beautiful art. ❤️❤️

  6. Have enjoyed many of your concerts Gretchen and Barry. Will continue to enjoy your music. Played “Love that makes a cup of tea” only last night to my girls Harriet and Portia and said that would be one of my Desert Island discs. We Look forward to seeing you at Long Road. Love seeing Oliver on Instagram.. Live the dream. Zoe Quesnel

  7. This makes me very sad for me but happy for you and Barry. I was hoping to see you in Calgary again but now I will travel to see you live one more time. Your livestreams over the past two years have given so many of us immeasurable pleasure and I hope you know the impact you have made on our lives.

  8. Will miss you and Barry here in the UK for sure. See you on August 24 at Kings Place. You will be my first gig back after 2.1/2 years due to Covid. I did have tickets for Rod Picott a few weeks ago but you guessed it I went down with Covid for the second time. Have a busy few weeks to catch up on all I’ve missed, Sara Evans and the the Mavericks to come in September.
    Remember seeing you for the first time at the Borderline when Bryan Adams guested and the meeting your lovely dad outside Dingwalls next time around.
    Much love to you both and come see us on the Isle of Wight if you get the chance.

  9. Perhaps you will find more time and space for teaching. I really enjoyed your classes at F&R this year.

  10. Gretchen, you will be greatly missed, but, you and yours need to live properly, so it is with the greatest understanding and love, that I say genuinely enjoy, enjoy. Enjoy your life in the future.

    Plus a great big thank you for all the music and joy you have given to so many people.. Felicity UK xx

  11. Dear Gretchen, I’m happy we’re seeing you for what might be the final time in Bristol this evening – we cannot wait to hear your beautiful songs live again. You have meant so much to us and ‘Love that Makes a Cup of Tea’ has a lot of significance for us. Thank you for all the music you have rewarded us with and will continue to enjoy your songs long after you have stopped touring. All the best to you and Barry.

  12. Gretchen and Barrie thank you so much for a beautiful concert at Kings Place last night. I just sat back closed my eyes and let your lovely songs wash over me. I was there in 1997 and was privileged to attend last night. Good luck with all you do in the future but please don’t forget us here in the UK.

  13. Gretchen, thank you so much for your music and those wonderful concerts that we have enjoyed in the UK over the years. We are so glad we caught your show last night in St George’s and though we are sad that it is probably for the last time, we completely understand your decision to stop touring. Your poetry will live with us forever – you are truly the Edward Hopper of Nashville and we look forward to your future work. Best wishes to you and to Barry.

  14. A remote ‘Hello’ for Gretchen from France !
    It took me a while to digest ‘An Announcement’. I am 66 now and after living 50 years with (not from) music I found out only 15 years ago that I had to mainly concentrate on the singer/songrwiter field, as far as contemporary music is concerned. Being in the French environment, needless to say that I was always late in discovering on records/CDs the strongest emotions I was after. Everyone needs time to get mature in feelings, but e.g. meeting Mickey Newbury’s music for the first time in 2010 is certainly not a timely move. Now the most recent of those late happy events is when I heard from you in 2018 (thank you Karel Beer, Paris). Late again, but not desperately this time. I will not try and describe what emotions your words and music carry across, it is too much and too far beyond words.
    Your Annoucement says that you will be more happy in your personal life without touring, which seems the best reason to stop. I will just do my utmost to be there if you come to Europe next year.
    Now the last part of your message points directly at the music business, with words that I fully share (although from a humble outsider position). And that hurts, first of all because art and artists should be central to us all. .
    Now let’s stop with the bitter and perhaps selfish part. Thank you for your art and wish you and Barry all the best for your coming years !

  15. You write so eloquently about love, growing old and loss. As I’ve aged, I listen differently. Like you’ve been told a million times, you have written my life. Thank you. How do songwriters do that…sum up a life in 3 1/5 minutes? You don’t write ditties, dear girl! We saw you in Apalachicola years back and attended NSAI workshops in Nashville – it was sublime. Congratulations on turning the page and I know you will continue to write beautiful music.

  16. I totally get it but seeing you live at The ark in Ann Arbor a few years ago was one of the highlights of my life. I will appease my soul with your music past present and future and be content with that. You are a special talent and Barry is it lucky guy.

  17. I’ve just recently discovered you Gretchen.
    I’m 74…and unreservedly ashamed that the music I’ve played while creating things in my shop hasn’t been yours.
    But I’m changing that. Your lyrics are powerful enough to have stopped me in my tracks…and truly listen to your art.
    Your voice is angelic. And perfectly suited to delivering your own songs.
    I wept this morning while listening. It triggered memories of a lost daughter.
    Thank you so much…I’m grateful for your music.

  18. Mixed emotions: thrilled that at last The Sage Gateshead gig is going ahead, but sad that it is likely to be the last time I see you here in the UK.
    A plea, if I may, that you play ‘ Idlewild ‘, a stunningly beautiful song that encapsulates both a very personal moment and a state- of – the -nation.
    BTW, a couple of years ago I sent an MP3 of ‘Over Africa’ to my daughter and her husband which accompanied them during their ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro – so you really are heard in the highest places! God bless.

  19. Dear Gretchen,
    I cannot believe that having listened to all types of “popular” music for more than 60 years, I had never heard of you and your music until the other day. I just happened on “Blackbirds” by chance on Spotify and instantly fell in love with your voice, your playing and your songwriting. Sadly for me, I’ve read that you’ve given up touring so I’ve lost the chance to see you live. My only consolation is that I can still listen to your music and watch your videos. Every guitar should have a name and I bought a Gibson J-45 in 2012. I could not think of a suitable name for it but have just decided to call it “Gretchen” in your honour. If you ever decide to go back on the road and return to Europe, let me know. I’ll be the first in the que for tickets.
    Warm regards,

  20. My condolences for not seeing her live. But fear not, she’s just as great in person as she is in the simulated liveness. Warm, genuine, cute as hell, smells great ( sorry Barry, haha) great hug installer (Ann Arbor Ark, 2021)
    So don’t overly lament my friend, her music is eternal.

  21. We can only hope this is a Simone Biles moment where you don’t trust yourself. And similarly like Simone you are an incredible athlete of the musical universe, who may return to your adoring fans. Someday. If not,…sigh…enjoy.

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