Having already taken France by “Storm”, daughter of legendary folk hero Jonathan Edwards (“Sunshine, Go Away Again”), delighted audiences at her recent concert at Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Hosting her official USA launch, DUO Magazine took a few moments to learn about this gifted artist and passionate philanthropist, a woman who is most certainly beautiful… inside and out.
DUO (D): How did you start your musical career?
Grace (G): I grew up traveling, writing songs and living all over the world, because both my parents are globally conscious American folk singer/songwriters with dreams of making the world a better place. There was always music going on in our lives. I played the ukulele as a kid and then the guitar, but it was a way of life, not a career that I envied at all. I was interested in how I could be of use in humanitarian and environmental work. So as I traveled the world, I kept writing songs and working with incredible musicians and learning more and more. But going back and forth between Africa, America, Europe, and India, it suddenly occurred to me that “even a bird has to put its feet on the ground at times;” and that if I wanted to have a real impact, I should try to stay in one place for some time. Not long after that I landed a record deal with Universal France. My album went gold there and I’ve spent the last year on tour with my band.
D: What and/or who was your inspiration?
G: So many people, places and ideas have been inspirational to me. There have been family, of course, friends, Emmylou Harris, Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Cesaria Evora, Oumou Sangare, Pakistani Sufi classical singers, griots from West Africa, Bob Marley and the conscious music makers of Jamaica, Gospel music, old Blues. It just goes on and on…
D: What are the characteristics that make you stand out from other artists?
G: With the crazy life I’ve had so far, it’s always been a funny double feeling, because on the one hand I am an outsider everywhere I go and at the same time I feel connected to people and at home everywhere too.
D: What can people expect from your album?
G: The songs on the album reflect my life journey on the road where there’s never much room for big luggage and sound equipment, so this album is very live acoustic and with minimalistic delivery. There’s a little bit of ol’ storytelling folk, bittersweet shuffle your feet soul, conscious roots reggae from the hills, rev-it-up world music, and clandestino gospel; so today I say “hippy to the hoppy ya don’t stoppy” and call it “gypsy-jive”!
D: What are some of the challenges you have encountered throughout your career? How did you overcome them?
G: Right now, I just came out of a wild adventure in the Amazon rain forest where I spent two weeks, invited by the great tribal leader, Almir Surui, as I am the Ambassador of Aquaverde and several other non-profit organizations. With an amazing group effort, we organized a big concert there to raise awareness of the importance of preserving the indigenous cultures, the ancient forest and planting trees on land that has already been destroyed by the lumber industries and unsustainable development. It was an incredible learning experience for me to see and live with the indigenous community there. They set such a great example for the concept “think globally, act locally” and the fact that they’ve managed to survive and protect their ancestral lands even today through the numerous invasions and persecutions is a lesson indeed. So guided by the indigenous leaders today, come plant the seeds of change for a better world today and for our children tomorrow at www.graceforest.com. As far as my own personal struggles go, they seem quite inconsequential after all. – DUO