By Tracy Dietlin
Charles Grace was born in Anaheim, Ca but spent his formative years living in Myrtle Beach, SC.
“I say y’all and I love sweet tea. South Carolina is home,” shared Grace in a recent interview. “I have been living in the desert since April 2018.”
I asked him what made him come to the Coachella valley.
“Music and family,” shared Grace. “While South Carolina will always be near and dear to my heart, I knew I needed a change of pace. I had just come out of a serious bout of depression, and I was eagerly seeking the next step in my life. I received an opportunity to attend a songwriting retreat up in the Santa Cruz area, and I was confident that this would be the catalyst to the change I was craving. With the help of my family (who live in Coachella Valley), I started making the plans to move. I packed everything I owned in my Nissan Pathfinder and drove across country in four and a half days.”
Grace shared his musical background with me.
“It’s hard to believe, but I have been pursuing music for over fourteen years now. I come from a family of eclectic music fans who raised me on everything from Elvis Presley to Journey to Boyz II Men. When I was ten years old, I was listening to albums regularly from front to back. It didn’t take long before I developed the itch. I started playing guitar at the age of thirteen and writing songs by the age of fifteen. In 2013, I graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a music degree in classical guitar performance and a minor in Spanish. As of 2018, I have written and recorded four albums, and I am working on a fifth.”
Grace will be doing a Songwriter Showcase on Saturday, October 27th at The Sturdio (Home of Will Sturgeon) in Palm Desert. Doors open at 6:00 for a pre-show meet and greet. Concert starts at 7:00 p.m. There is a $10 suggested donation to help cover the traveling expenses for the touring artists.
“I am really excited to be bringing in three very talented artists from Nashville: Jenny Teator, Meg Williams, and Sheridan Gates. We are going to be performing ‘in the round,’ which means the four of us will be alternating songs and sharing the stories behind them. These house concerts and special for the songwriter and the audience because they offer a unique experience where the avid listener and/or fellow creative can really connect in an intimate setting,” shared Grace.
Grace shared the difference in the music scene here and back in SC.
“That’s a great question. The biggest difference is the off season. In Myrtle Beach and Charleston for example, summertime is the busiest time of year, which is largely a result of beach tourism and travel destinations. I learned very quickly that is the opposite here in the desert. After Coachella and Stagecoach, this place became a ghost town until mid-October. The ‘pay to play’ shows are much more common out here in Southern California too, which is one of the main reasons so many independent artists and listeners are turning to alternatives such as Sofar Sounds and house concerts such as the one we are putting on this weekend.”
Grace shared his musical goals with me.
“There are two things at the top of my bucket list. The first is to have one or more of my songs featured in television or film. The other is to open up for one of my heroes on tour. I would also love to travel abroad and perform for audiences outside the U.S. I have always wanted to visit Europe and South America.”
I was curious as to who he would like to open for.
“Ooh! I have thought a lot about this. If I could bring somebody back from the dead or go back in time, then I would want to open for Jeff Buckley. He has increasingly become my favorite singer/songwriter. That man’s voice was angelic and his songs are still just as fresh to me today.”
Which musicians does he most respect & admire?
“The ones I admire the most are not all world renowned. I have a great deal of respect for the musicians who have taste and pay attention to details. I am drawn to those individuals who really have something to say and have a desire to cultivate creative community as opposed to competition. There were so many wonderful people who gave me the platform to hone my craft growing up, and I am eternally grateful. As far as current artists, it’s a tie between Ray LaMontagne and Glen Hansard. Both of those men have had an immeasurable impact on me and my development as a songwriter and a person.”
He went on to share what his songwriting process is like.
“It’s never the same. In the past, I would scribble down lyric phrases and sit on them for weeks or months at a time. Lately, I have been harder on myself to either finish the idea or cut it loose. I challenge myself to learn different styles of music too. That’s how I stay sharp and learn new chords or techniques. I love the color in R&B chords, and I draw so much of my compositional tendencies from my classical guitar training. Oftentimes, I will be finger-picking, then hear a melody in the chords I am playing and allow that to determine the direction of the song.”
Finally I wanted to know what has been the highlight of his musical career so far?
“This one’s tough for me because I always have my head in the clouds looking to what’s next. The experience that left the greatest impression on me was the Judy Stakee Songwriting Retreat that I attended back in April. It happened at such a crucial time when I wasn’t sure if music was going to be a part of my future. Those five days I spent up the sequoias reassured me that music was a gift that I should most definitely continuing pursuing. It brought me so much clarity and confidence as to who I am and how I should move forward. For those reasons, I would have to say that’s the biggest highlight thus far.”
The Nashville Songwriter Showcase takes place on Saturday, October 27th at The Sturdio (Home of Will Sturgeon) in Palm Desert. Doors open at 6:00 for a pre-show meet and greet. Concert starts at 7:00 p.m. There is a $10 suggested donation to help cover the traveling expenses for the touring artists.
For the address to this house concert, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.