About David Wilcox
Wilcox was born in Mentor, Ohio, attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio in 1976 where he began learning guitar. He later transferred to Warren Wilson College in North Carolina in 1981 and graduated in 1985. Wilcox appeared regularly at an Asheville night club called McDibbs. His debut album The Nightshift Watchman was released in 1987 on his own label, Song of the Woods, and reissued in 1996. He began touring regularly. After performing at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, he signed with A&M Records in 1989. He made several albums with this label. His albums were described by one Rolling Stone critic as “unjustly neglected”. After his contract with A&M expired in 1994, Wilcox continued to write songs, tour and release albums. In 1994, he performed at Carnegie Hall with thirty other singer-songwriters in a showcase event. Wilcox also appeared on the cover of Acoustic Guitar which described him as James Taylor combined with the “husky breathiness more reminiscent of the late Nick Drake” and said he was the “best known of the brilliant crop of singer-songwriters to emerge in the late ’80s.” He’s been based in South Carolina in 1992, in Washington, D.C. and Maryland in 1999-2000, and Asheville, North Carolina in 2009.
In the next decade, Wilcox continued to release albums, including Into the Mystery in 2003. He’s been a guest artist at guitar workshops. His lyrics are sometimes of the “probing meaning-of-life” type. as well as “thought-provoking”. Wilcox plays acoustic guitars made by Olson Guitars. His fingerstyle style which is similar to Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell uses open tuning extensively, often in combination with customized capos with notches cut out to allow lower strings to ring open. He’s been featured in Performing Songwriter magazine on five occasions.
He commented on his approach to music:
“If people listen to only one kind of music, it seems they’re focusing on one kind of emotion … Music is about all the different kinds of feelings we can have — we can be scared, we can be angry, we can be hopeful, we can be sad. We can be all these things and have company in it. Music is sacred ground and it shouldn’t be reduced to that kind of simplified demographic target-marketing.”
“The song has to offer something universal. I want songs that people can understand the first time … I write songs with layers in them, so they stay interesting over the years.”
His 2005 album Out Beyond Ideas was a joint project with his wife Nance Pettit described as a significant diversion from prior work featuring sacred poetry set to music from different religious traditions including Saint Francis of Assisi, Jalaludin Rumi ,Shams-ud-din Muhammad Hafiz Rabia al Basri, Yehuda HaLevi, Solomon Ibn Gabirol, Uvavnuk, and Kabir. During 2005 Wilcox traveled the country with his wife and teen-aged son in an Airstream trailer attached to a bio-diesel truck. He named one of his albums Airstream. His album Vista was released in April 2006.
In 2008 Wilcox was honored with a silver award along with Bob Dylan, in Acoustic Guitar’s singer/songwriter category. His live album “Open Hand” was released in March 2009. He’s sometimes confused with Canadian rock and blues guitarist David Wilcox. Although his albums have had diverse arrangements, Wilcox generally performs as a soloist. He has released 16 albums. His music has been an influence to rising singer-songwriter talents such as Scott Little.