Vocalist Leigh Nash described the origin of the band's name on the Late Show with David Letterman:
It comes from a book by C. S. Lewis called Mere Christianity. A little boy asks his father if he can get a sixpence—a very small amount of English currency—to go and get a gift for his father. The father gladly accepts the gift and he's really happy with it, but he also realizes that he's not any richer for the transaction. C.S. Lewis was comparing that to his belief that God has given him, and us, the gifts that we possess, and to serve Him the way we should, we should do it humbly—realizing how we got the gifts in the first place.
Guitarist/songwriter Matt Slocum met Leigh Nash in the early 1990s. They recorded a demo, which circulates as "The Original Demos", with bassist T.J. Behling at Verge Music Works recording studio in Dallas, and eventually an album, The Fatherless and the Widow, for the independent label REX Music in 1993. The record featured Chris Dodds (a member of Love Coma, in which Slocum also played guitar). Shortly after the release of The Fatherless and the Widow, Slocum left Love Coma to pursue Sixpence None the Richer full-time. The band added Tess Wiley (guitar), Joel Bailey (bass) and Dale Baker (drums) to tour in support of The Fatherless and The Widow. On this tour the band traveled the US, opening for the Choir, the newly reformed 10,000 Maniacs, Audio Adrenaline, Pray For Rain, Over The Rhine, and more. In the fall of 1994, the band left for their first tour of Europe. The club and festival tour saw them performing with bands such as the Proclaimers, Newsboys, Julie & Buddy Miller, and many more. The band added J.J. Plasencio (bass) for 1995's This Beautiful Mess. Both albums were produced by Armand John Petri, who also managed the band from 1993 to 1997. Shortly after the release of This Beautiful Mess, Wiley left the band.
In 1997, the group signed to Steve Taylor's label Squint Entertainment and released a self-titled album, which slowly began garnering attention from a wider audience in the mainstream industry. Although Placencio played bass on most of the album, he left the band before it was released and was replaced by Justin Cary, who joined the band around the same time as second guitarist Sean Kelly.
In 1998, "Kiss Me" was released as a single, propelling Sixpence None the Richer into the national pop spotlight. That year the song was also featured in the film She's All That. In 2001 the film Not Another Teen Movie used the song in a parody. "Kiss Me" was also played on the WB teen drama Dawson's Creek in episodes No. 2-06 "The Dance" and No. 2-18 "The Perfect Wedding", and is found on the show's first soundtrack CD, Songs from Dawson's Creek (Volume 1) and also played at the televised wedding of the UK's Prince Edward.
In 1999, the band released their cover of The La's' "There She Goes", which became their second hit single and propelled them into the limelight again. Sixpence appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and numerous morning talk shows. "There She Goes" was added to subsequent pressings of the self-titled album.
In 2000, Sixpence None the Richer contributed the song "Us" to Today Presents: the Best of Summer Concert Series CD, which raised money for the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance. Later that year, the band recorded a Japanese version of "Kiss Me", which was released exclusively in Japan on an EP with numerous versions of the song, as well as remixes of other songs on the self-titled album.
The band had a follow-up album ready to release, but their label Squint Entertainment started to fall apart, leaving the band in limbo for several years. Finally, Squint Entertainment folded and that album, Divine Discontent, was released in October 2002.
Baker left the band before that album's release and was replaced by Rob Mitchell. The album itself differs significantly from the first pre-release version of it that had circulated: the songs "Us", "Deeper", "Don't Pass Me By", "Too Far Gone", "Northern Lights", and "Loser Like Me" were cut, and "Down and Out of Time", "A Million Parachutes", "Tonight", "Waiting on the Sun", and a cover of Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over" were added. All of the unreleased songs were eventually featured on singles or compilations, with the exception of "Deeper". Two of Divine Discontent's singles, "Don't Dream It's Over" and "Breathe Your Name", received significant radio airplay and appeared on various Billboard charts.
On February 26, 2004, Matt Slocum announced that the group had disbanded. On July 22, 2004, it was reported that Matt Slocum had started a new band, the Astronaut Pushers, with Lindsay Jamieson (of the band Departure Lounge) and Sam Ashworth (son of influential musician Charlie Peacock). John Davis (of the band Superdrag) joined the band in 2005. The Astronaut Pushers released a self-titled, four-song EP on their own label, Runway Network, in 2005. Sam Ashworth reported via MySpace that he and Slocum had acquired and were operating a recording studio in Nashville in early 2006.
Leigh Nash began work on a solo album titled Blue on Blue with producer Pierre Marchand in the fall of 2005. Nash's first single "My Idea of Heaven" was released on July 14, 2006. The album Blue on Blue was released by Nettwerk Records under Nash's own imprint, One Son Records and the album's official release date was August 15, 2006, she also released the Christmas EP Wishing For This on November 14, 2006.
In 2007, Nash worked a collaboration with Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber of Delerium called Fauxliage. Nash contributed vocals to "All the World", "Some Day the Wind", "Draw My Life", "Let It Go", "Without You", "Rafe" and "All Alone".
In 2011, she released a worship album entitled "Hymns and Sacred Songs," first of three contracted solo albums through a partnership with Kingsway Music. In an interview with FUSE TV, Leigh mentioned that the next project would be an ambient worship album.
In November 2007, Sixpence None the Richer reunited. They released an EP My Dear Machine on the website NoiseTrade in 2008, the band's first official release since The Best of Sixpence None the Richer in 2004. The EP was removed from NoiseTrade in early 2009.
In October 2008, they released a Christmas album titled The Dawn of Grace. Nash commented, "Sixpence fans have been asking for a Christmas album for as long as I can remember. It was something we always wanted to do, but somehow time got away from us. Now that we are back together, we thought a Christmas album would be a nice gift for our long-time supporters. We love it and hope they will too!"
In December 2008 Sixpence joined the "Love Came Down at Christmas Tour" to play songs from The Dawn of Grace, along with Jars of Clay, Leeland and Sara Groves.
Sixpence signed to Credential Recordings and played a headline slot at the 2009 Greenbelt Festival in the UK. According to Leigh Nash, the band began recording a new album in January 2010. The album, titled Strange Conversation, was originally slated for an August 24, 2010 release.
The putative release date was later changed to March 8, 2011. On April 12, 2011, Nash shared that record label problems had been resolved and that the album would be released. New recordings of the songs "Failure" and "Safety Line" were released as streaming audio on the band's Facebook page in July 2011.
In December 2011, Leigh Nash announced in interviews that the album had been renamed Lost in Transition and that the band was intending to self-release it in March 2012. She also mentioned the possibility of more than one Sixpence release in 2012.
On February 2, 2012, Leigh Nash posted on Sixpence None the Richer's official Twitter feed that the album would be released in May 2012. The song "Radio" from the album debuted on Perez Hilton's site on May 15, 2012. In an interview with American Songwriter Matt Slocum describes the song: “While driving and listening to the radio, an old favorite song inspires a man to reminisce about an old relationship born from a road trip."
The album was released on August 7, 2012.
On November 12, 2016, the band performed at Love Love Rock Festival in Taipei, Taiwan with hits Don't Dream It's Over, Kiss Me and There She Goes.
Current membersLeigh Nash – vocals (1992–2004, 2007–present)
Matt Slocum – guitar, cello (1992–2004, 2007–present)
Justin Cary – bass (1997–2004, 2008–present)
Rob Mitchell – drums (2001–2004, 2012–present)
Former membersTess Wiley – guitars, vocals (1993–1997, 2008)
Dale Baker – drums (1993–2001)
Joel Bailey – bass (1993–1995) also in Society's Finest
James Arhelger – bass (1995)
J.J. Plasencio – bass (1995–1997)
Sean Kelly – guitars (1997–2004)
Jerry Dale McFadden – keyboards (2001–2004)
The Fatherless and the Widow (1994)
This Beautiful Mess (1995)
Sixpence None the Richer (1997)
Divine Discontent (2002)
The Dawn of Grace (2008)
Lost in Transition (2012)