The late-’60s/early-’70s blues-rock outfit Mother Earth was led by singer Tracy Nelson and issued several somewhat underappreciated releases during their time span. Nelson was originally from Madison, WI, and it was while attending the University of Wisconsin that the singer was discovered by producer Sam Charters and was eventually signed to a recording contract with the Prestige label. 1965 saw the release of Nelson’s solo debut, the folk-based Deep Are the Roots, and when it didn’t exactly burn up the charts, Nelson decided to relocate to San Francisco, with the hopes of forming a more conventional rock outfit. Shortly after arriving on the West Coast, Mother Earth was formed, which led to performances at the famed Fillmore West, opening for the likes of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Burdon. After an appearance on the soundtrack to the 1968 motion picture Revolution (which also featured the Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Steve Miller Band), Mother Earth signed with Mercury Records and issued a steady stream of releases until the early ’70s.
Living with the Animals These albums included 1968’s Living with the Animals 1969’s Tracy Nelson Country and Make a Joyful Noise, 1970’s Satisfied, 1971’s Bring Me Home, 1972’s Tracy Nelson/Mother Earth, and 1973’s Poor Man’s Paradise, before Nelson pursued a solo career. Subsequently, Nelson earned a Grammy nomination in 1974 for the track “After the Fire Is Gone” (a duet with Willie Nelson) and continued to issue solo albums until the early ’80s, when she became disillusioned with the direction that popular music was going in (although she did sing backup for Neil Young for a spell in the mid-’80s, including appearing with Young at the mammoth Live Aid concert in 1985). Nelson returned to music in the ’90s, beginning with 1993’s In the Here and Now, continuing to issue solo recordings (and in 1998, earned another Grammy nomination for the release Sing It!, a collaboration with Marcia Ball and Irma Thomas).