Nancy Elizabeth Cunliffe (born 1983) is a folk singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who releases music with the The Leaf Label. She is an active member of Soka Gakkai
Nancy was born in Billinge Higher End, near Wigan, and learned piano and guitar at an early age, the latter being entirely self-taught. By the age of 18 she had made one EP, Basis, and one LP, Fly Alley, both of which were recorded, produced, manufactured and distributed by Nancy using home equipment. Around this time Cunliffe started to experiment with other instruments and acquired a Khim from Thailand and a Celtic Harp. Having initially started playing on the Wigan music scene, she attended Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and moved to playing regularly in Manchester, Liverpool and around England.
Nancy's first EP, released in 2006, was recorded in an old Corinthian-style church on the outskirts of Liverpool and is named after the concept of an ideal ruler in ancient Indian mythology. Recorded at night to reduce traffic noise interference, some distortion can be heard when listening carefully: in particular on the aptly named "Waiting for Cars". The record was released by Manchester-based Timbreland.
The first LP, Battle and Victory was released 24 September 2007 and licensed to The Leaf Label. This marked the first record where Cunliffe was dropped as a performing name. The album was critically well received and drew favourable comparisons with music by Joanna Newsom, Josephine Foster and many others. The release of this album went hand in hand with an increase in the number of live performances, and she started to tour both the UK, Europe and further afield with regularity.
The second album Wrought Iron was released on 5 October 2009, again with The Leaf Label. It received excellent reviews, prompting an article to be written by Laura Barton in The Guardian. Drawing inspiration from natural sounds of the Faroe Islands (her grandmother's birthplace), rural Spain and the Lake District, the album was recorded in a remote corner of North Wales. Described as a "sparse album, dusted with piano, breathy vocals and harmonies, and touches of acoustic guitar, horns and accordion" this work moves away from the multi-instrumental previous works to concentrate mainly on the piano, guitar and vocal arrangements. Track 4 of the album was released as a single with an accompanying video, shot in Portishead lido.