What happens when an artist fuses the harmonic beauty of jazz with the lyrical power of Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell? The answer is found in the music of Kathleen Grace. Hailed as one of the most exciting newcomers on the scene today, Grace is blessed with a sound as pure as a bell ringing. Her storytelling captivates her audience whether she is singing an American classic or an award-winning original.
After two successful releases, Grace and her band are set to dive into to new territory. Their upcoming release, Mirror, features almost exclusively original material that embraces the language of rock, folk and jazz as a democratic music all its own. The sound critics describe as “indie jazz” has taken the group of inspired young players from rock festivals to performing art centers across the country.
Based in Los Angeles, the Kathleen Grace Band (KGB) was born out of a desire to fuse the musical language of jazz with the storytelling of the American folk tradition. Grace in her capacity as singer, songwriter and producer draws the listener in with vocal harmonies, grooves and textures inspired by her stories of love, power and loss. Each selection from the new project has a modern day fable at its center and lessons learned and unlearned color their meaning. The title track “Mirror” takes inspiration from the Brothers Grimm fairy tale of Snow White. In her tale Grace blurs the lines between good and evil as she fuses witch with princess. In her song “Penny” she uses a pauper’s plea to question contemporary myths of history and control. The song “Elijah” is an homage to her hometown of Tucson, Arizona and the summer storms that filled her imagination as a girl. And the CD’s hit “Am I Enough Yet” embraces the power found in imperfection.
A product of the fertile LA music scene, Grace borrows from several genres in her writing and producing. With Mirror, Grace combines the real-time recording tradition of jazz with the experimentation found in post-production indie folk/rock. The result is music played at the highest level and enhanced by eclectic instrumentation and vocal harmonies. Grace credits the jazz legend Nancy Wilson with encouraging her to explore beyond the genre of standards. In an interview with Jim Newsom Grace related the story of their fateful meeting: “I had a chance to attend an open rehearsal at USC. Nancy said, ‘Do you have any questions for me?’ And of course, all I can ask is possibly the most inane question I could ask, ‘Well, what’s your favorite song?’ She looked at me and said, ‘Darlin’ I’ve recorded about 450 songs, and I can’t really have a favorite.’ She gave me a hard time and teased me about it, but then she named of a few songs. One of them was ‘Suzanne’ by Leonard Cohen. That song changed my life.” – Interview with by Jim Newsom, Portfolio Weekly
Once Grace began writing her own music, a whole new voice emerged, playful and empowered. From that simple beginning Grace has earned honors for her work as a composer and performer. She was awarded a spot at the 2004 Betty Carter Jazz Ahead residency for young composers at the Kennedy Center and was a finalist in the Montreux Jazz Festival International Vocal Competition. The title track of her second release, Songbird, was a finalist for the 2007 International Songwriting Competition. Grace was also teaches at her alma mater, the USC Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Music Academy