T Bone Burnett, born Joseph Henry Burnett (January 14, 1948) in St. Louis, Missouri and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, is a songwriter and performer steeped in America's deep musical heritage. He emerged from a self-imposed 14 year hiatus as a recording artist in 2006 to release two highly-anticipated collections of music: The True False Identity, his first album of new original songs since 1992, and Twenty Twenty - The Essential T Bone Burnett, a 40 song retrospective spanning Burnett’s entire career of music-making.
Ironically, T Bone’s time away from recording and performing paved the way for one of music’s most multi-faceted and successful careers. His multitude of musical identities include: Grammy-winning producer, (O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, Tony Bennett and k.d. lang, A Wonderful World); Oscar-nominated songwriter (Cold Mountain); indie record label founder (DMZ Records); soundtrack composer/Executive Music Producer (Walk The Line, The Big Lebowski and versatile and prolific studio wizard (Counting Crows, The Wallflowers, Los Lobos, Gillian Welch, Sam Phillips, Kris Kristofferson, Autolux, Cassandra Wilson, Elvis Costello, Ralph Stanley).
One of America's most acclaimed songwriters, T Bone's songs have been covered by artists like k.d. lang ("Till the Heart Caves In"), Los Lobos, Sixpence None the Richer ("Carry You"), Tonio K, Emmylou Harris, Arlo Guthrie, Warren Zevon, Peter Case, B. J. Thomas and others.
Burnett released his first album, The B-52 Band and the Fabulous Skylarks, in 1972. In 1975 and 1976, he toured with Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue. When the Revue ended, Burnett and two other members of Dylan's band, David Mansfield and Steven Soles, formed The Alpha Band. The band released three albums, The Alpha Band in 1977, Spark In The Dark in 1977, and The Statue Makers of Hollywood in 1978.
Burnett then revived his solo career and began producing albums for artists like Counting Crows' August and Everything After, Los Lobos' How Will the Wolf Survive?, Elvis Costello's King of America and Spike, the Wallflowers' Bringing Down the Horse, Marshall Crenshaw's Downtown, Spinal Tap's Break Like The Wind, the BoDeans' Love & Hope and Sex & Dreams, Gillian Welch's Revival and Hell Among The Yearlings, The Roy Orbison tribute A Black & White Night Live, two albums for Bruce Cockburn, and nearly everything released by his wife, Sam Phillips.
In 1985, Burnett collaborated with Elvis Costello on a single called "The People's Limousine," under the moniker "The Coward Brothers."
In 1987, Burnett produced Roy Orbison's two-record album, In Dreams: The Greatest Hits. After that, he was the musical director and a guitarist for Orbison's hugely successful HBO television special, Roy Orbison and Friends, A Black and White Night.
In 2000, Burnett produced the soundtrack for the Coen Brothers film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?. The award-winning score featured music from Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Ralph Stanley, Gillian Welch, and others performing traditional American folk music, blues and bluegrass - reminiscent of Burnett's 1986 self-titled release. The album was a smash, garnering numerous industry awards from the Grammys, Academy of Country Music, and the Country Music Association. Surprisingly, the album was as much a commercial success as a critical one and has sold seven million copies to date according to the Recording Industry Association of America. A documentary film, Down from the Mountain, was made of a benefit concert of the soundtrack performed by the artists on the album; Burnett figures prominently in the film. His production on the soundtrack albums for these two films, plus his wife Sam Phillips' Fan Dance album, led to his winning the 2002 Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. Burnett went on to produce the perhaps-even-more-compelling, but far less popular, gospel soundtrack to the Coen's The Ladykillers.
In 2004, under his name, "Henry Burnett," he wrote "I Wish My Baby Was Born", "Like a Songbird That Has Fallen", and "The Scarlet Tide" for the movie Cold Mountain. "The Scarlet Tide", co-written with Elvis Costello and performed by Alison Krauss, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song and won the BAFTA Anthony Asquith Award for Achievement in Film Music.
In 2005, he worked with actors Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon for their singing roles as Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash in the biographical film, Walk the Line. He also produced that film's soundtrack album and wrote its score.
In 2006, he was nominated for the Anthony Asquith Award for Achievement in Film Music by the British Academy of Film and Televsion Arts (BAFTA).