Allison Moorer was raised in Frankville, Ala., just north of Mobile. Weaned on George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris, she sang harmonies as a toddler, eventually thinking she'd make a career of it. At 14, her father killed her mother after an argument, then killed himself. Following the tragedy, she and sister Shelby Lynne moved into their aunt and uncle's home.
Not long afterwards, Lynne moved to Nashville for a career in music, and after her high school graduation, Moorer followed. She sang harmonies with Lynne for a while but returned to Alabama to earn a degree in public relations. She skipped the graduation ceremony to move back to Nashville.
There, she met Doyle "Butch" Primm, an Oklahoma-reared musician who soon became her husband and frequent songwriting partner. In June 1996, she took part in a series of tributes to her songwriter friend, the late Walter Hyatt, singing his "Tell Me Baby" at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. Nashville agent Bobby Cudd was sufficiently impressed and hooked her up with producer Tony Brown. After a few meetings, Brown asked her to cut some demos, from which two tracks -- "Pardon Me" and "Call My Name" -- ended up on her first MCA album, Alabama Song.
Her song "A Soft Place to Fall" was tapped for The Horse Whisperer in 1998, and she also appeared in the movie. Because the ballad earned her an Academy Award nomination, she performed it on the 1999 Oscars ceremony. However, none of her singles from Alabama Song or its follow-up The Hardest Part caught on at radio, though both projects were highly praised by critics.
When Brown moved from MCA to Universal South, Moorer followed. Her 2002 album Miss Fortune earned more raves but didn't meet sales expectations. She almost got another big break by recording the duet "Picture" with Kid Rock after Sheryl Crow declined. However, Crow changed her mind, and the Rock-Crow version was a huge radio hit. Yet, the CD single featured Moorer's vocals and sold a half-million copies.
After releasing a live CD and DVD on Universal South, Moorer moved to independent label Sugar Hill Records. With a slightly rougher edge than past efforts, The Duel was released in April 2004.
About a year after The Duel, Moorer divorced Primm and married Steve Earle, after serving as his opening act on a European tour. He produced her 2006 album, Getting Somewhere Moorer wrote all the songs by herself, with the exception of one co-write with Earle. The couple also lives in New York City.