WhatsOn’s Carly Hacon catches up with London-born, Brighton-raised singer-songwriter Grace Carter to chat about her musical influences ahead of a busy summer of festivals performances.
The 20-year-old star describes her sound as “honest soulful pop” and says she takes inspiration from the likes of Alicia Keys, Adele and Nina Simone, after being brought up by her mum playing a lot of strong female voices.
Commenting before her solo tour, Grace says: “I’m so so so excited. I’ve only ever done one other tour of my own and I had the time of my life. It blows my mind every time I see my fans singing all of my lyrics back at me. They’re the best!”
Having previously toured with Haim, Dua Lipa, Jorja Smith, Mabel, Dermot Kennedy + Rag N Bone Man, she is no stranger to the stage and first began performing her own material in public at the age of fourteen.
Grace says: “I’ve had the best time supporting so many amazing artists they’ve all been so good to me. I’m probably closest with Dua. Since touring with her she’s supported me with everything I’ve done. It’s so amazing to have someone a few years ahead of you to look up to. She’s fab.”
The rising star has also recently released a video for her latest single ‘Heal Me’ which sees Grace reminisce on her younger years, featuring snippets of her as a child.
This video comes off the back of coming third in BBC’s Sound of 2019 as well as being tipped by the likes of MTV, YouTube Music, Amazon and Ticketmaster in their coveted one-to-watch lists.
The song’s premise is about feeling the pain of rejection and abandonment, but not letting it hold you back. This is something she says she felt as a child, being raised solely by her mother, as her relationship with her absent father grew more distant.
Following on from her previous release ‘Why Her Not Me’, which tackled the notion of jealousy and abandonment Grace felt for her father, whose lack of presence in her early life inspires a lot of her music.
She says: “All of my songs are about my life and the things I’ve experienced. I grew up with a single mum and had a lot of unanswered questions growing up so music has always been a tool for me to process my situation and feelings. The video is basically my journey so far compacted into a three-minute video.”
The singer explains that her music is instrumental in keeping her sane and feels blessed to have such a strong support network.
“It’s important for everyone to have an outlet. If I didn’t speak about my feelings in my music I think I would’ve lost the plot by now,” Grace adds.
“I’ve always been encouraged to talk. I’ve been blessed with an amazing friendship group and family who I have always been very open with.”
When asked if she is as open and emotional in her personal life as she is her songs, Grace reveals that she doesn’t change much from work to play.
“I’m a deep soul” she sighs. “I’ve always been someone who really thinks about things and enjoyed my own company. So songwriting has been a therapy to me.”
Grace found her independent musical moment via journeys from her bedroom in Hove to the bedrooms of her friends, producers ‘The 23rd’ in Streatham where she would record music before they got a studio in Brixton. She released a 4-track debut EP featuring ‘Half of You’, and ‘Saving Grace’ a track dedicated to the women in her life.
The result of these years spent living independently was, finding her voice between homes, which allowed her to reflect on what she was trying to say. She puts it simply: “My music is saying all those things I couldn’t say; all the thoughts that have been building up inside me”.
The building and bubbling comes out in smooth, heartfelt pop-soul that channels the power of Emeli Sande and productions of Kendrick Lamar. She talks about the impact of Kanye West’s productions which saved her forthcoming album from being a collection of solely ballads. Her recent live shows have connected with audiences – and artists.
This year has already been a life-changing one for Grace, who after being chosen to headline the BBC Introducing stage at SXSW, went out on her UK and European tour this Spring which sold out.
She will be kept busy too this summer as she is set to perform at a long list of festivals right across the globe, from Pinkpop in the Netherlands to Summer Sonic in Japan. If all that wasn’t enough, she has just been announced as the main support to Lewis Capaldi on his end of year tour.
Grace adds: “I just want to be having as much fun as I’m having now releasing music I love… I’m also working on my debut album which I’m very excited to share.”
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