100 Greatest Women, #86: Allison Moorer

100 Greatest Women: 10th Anniversary Edition


Allison Moorer

2008 Edition: #96 (+10)

One of the definitive female artists of Americana music.

Allison Moorer was the second musical artist to emerge from her family, with an older sister who goes by the name Shelby Lynne preceding her in the industry by about a decade.

Moorer signed with MCA in the mid-nineties, and began to carve out an unconventional path to success. Her first single, “A Soft Place to Fall”, was placed in the movie The Horse Whisperer. Moorer found herself launching her career with a song in a major motion picture, and while radio never warmed to it (or any of her other singles), she scored an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song and performed it on the 1999 telecast.

While with MCA, she released two critically acclaimed albums – Alabama Song (1998) and Miss Fortune (2000.) She became a darling of the Americana scene with her understated vocals and carefully crafted lyrics, sealing the deal with her music video tribute to Americana godfather Gram Parsons, “Send Down an Angel.”

Much like Moorer unexpectedly found herself on the Oscar stage in 1999, she also scored a #4 pop hit in 2002. Kid Rock asked her to sing a duet with him on a song called “Picture”, after Sheryl Crow had turned him down. Crow, however, changed her mind, and recorded the song with Rock. The version with Kid Rock & Sheryl Crow was a massive pop hit, receiving widespread airplay on multiple formats. However, the CD single featured the version that Moorer had recorded, and fans looking for the hit version purchased enough CD singles to earn her a gold record and a trip to the top five of the Hot 100.

She left MCA to become a flagship artist for the new label Universal South, which released her album Duel (2004), before going indie and signing with Sugar Hill Records. Moorer married Steve Earle in 2005, touring with him across Europe and contributing vocals to his albums. A duet with Earle on his album, Washington Square Serenade, brought Moorer to another milestone in her career: her first Grammy nomination. “Days Aren’t Long Enough” was nominated for Best Country Vocal Collaboration earlier this year; the then-married couple lost to Willie Nelson & Ray Price.

Moorer’s productivity continued with another string of critically acclaimed albums on independent labels, including the covers set Mockingbird in 2008 and Down to Believing in 2015.  More recently, she collaborated with sister Lynne on the popular album, Not Dark Yet. The sisters are currently working on a follow up to their well-received project, which will feature their songwriting more prominently than their first album together did.

Allison Moorer

Essential Singles

  • A Soft Place to Fall, 1998
  • Alabama Song, 1998
  • Send Down an Angel, 2000
  • Picture (with Kid Rock), 2002
  • Days Aren’t Long Enough (with Steve Earle), 2008

Essential Albums

  • Alabama Song (1998)
  • The Hardest Part (2000)
  • Miss Fortune (2002)
  • The Duel (2004)
  • Down to Believing (2015)

100 Greatest Women: 10th Anniversary Edition

Next: #85. Hazel Dickens

Previous: #87. Jessi Colter



  1. Always loved the video to “Send Down an Angel.”

    The article gives the impression that she is still married to Steve Earle- they divorced several years ago.

  2. Alison Moorer is a remarkable artist, surely one of the most under-appreciated from a commercial point of view. Yet, that makes her no less remarkable and talented than she truly is. Great choice for this list.

  3. Liked “A Soft Place to Fall”.
    Saw Steve Earle once, probably in the early Oughties. He was opening for Mary Chapin Carpenter at a theatre that was part of Madison Square Garden. MCC was great.

  4. Miranda Lambert has long pointed her out as a real hero of hers & one of the reasons she started songwriting. That’s how 8 heard about Alison & have been a fan ever since. Really love her latest album w/ her sister.

  5. Allison Moorer is another person my dad loves, but alas, all I’ve heard of hers to this day is “A Soft Place to Fall”, off the soundtrack to The Horse Whisperer. It’s also on the only album of hers I’ve obtained, a BMG Music Service CD copy of Alabama Song. I haven’t played the album yet, but if what I’ve read about Moorer is any indication, it’s gonna be good.

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