Joy Elizabeth Williams (born November 14, 1982) is an American singer-songwriter. The winner of four Grammy Awards, Williams has released four solo albums and four EPs since the release of her self-titled debut in 2001. She was half of the Civil Wars duo from 2009 until 2014.
Williams was born in West Branch, Michigan, and raised in a Christian home in Santa Cruz, California, where her parents worked in ministry. She attended Valley Christian High School in San Jose and graduated as the class valedictorian in 2001.
In addition to singing in church, Williams began writing faith-based pop songs while living in Santa Cruz. At 17, she was signed by Reunion Records, a subsidiary of Sony/BMG based in Brentwood, Tennessee.
Williams cites Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Massive Attack, and Portishead as being her influences.
Between 2001 and 2005 Williams was nominated for 11 Dove Awards, and the three records she released on Reunion cumulatively sold more than 250,000 copies. In 2005 she left the label to expand her musical horizons.
Williams traveled to Europe, worked briefly at Paste Magazine and then at a Nashville boutique. In 2006 she signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell music, and in 2008 she co-founded the artist development firm, Sensibility Music as a vehicle for her career development. That same year Oscar Mayer selected her song "It Doesn't Get Better Than This" for a 2008 marketing campaign. Williams subsequently released three EPs through Sensibility Music. The songs "Charmed Life", "Speaking A Dead Language", and "Sunny Day," which were featured on the TV show Grey's Anatomy.
In 2008, Williams attended a writing camp in Nashville, where she met John Paul White. They formed the folk rock duo The Civil Wars in 2009 and released their breakthrough album, Barton Hollow in 2011. The album was widely praised by critics and went on to sell more than 650,000 copies in the U.S. White and Williams won four Grammy Awards as The Civil Wars.
The duo announced an indefinite hiatus in November 2012, prior to the release of their 2013 self-titled album. The duo was officially dissolved in August 2014 and in March 2015, Williams said her last conversation with White was after their Roundhouse show in London in November 2012.
Late in 2013, Williams collaborated with Chris Cornell on the song "Misery Chain" which they performed on Late Night with David Letterman. She also collaborated with Matt Berninger from The National on "Hush", the theme song for TURN. Williams and Hayley Williams (no relation) of the rock band Paramore collaborated on a new version of Paramore's "Hate to See Your Heart Break".
Williams featured the song, "Woman (Oh Mama)", from her album Venus, on her website in late March 2015. Her cover of The Chainsmokers' "Don't Let Me Down" was used for a State Farm.
Williams made her acting debut in 2016 in an episode of Roadies.