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Tuesday 03 December 2019

One To Watch 2020: BBC Sound Nominated & Brighton Raised Grace Carter Says Kanye West's Production Informed Her Emotional Sound

The London born, Brighton raised and BBC Sound 2019 nominated singer Grace Carter found through music the strength to speak out, to face down heartbreak and forge something transformative from the pain. 

"My songs are saying all those things I couldn't say; all the thoughts that have been building up inside me.
 
"A lot of the music my mum played was very heartfelt and emotional" says Grace Carter. 

"That's why I was such a deep kid. She would play 'The Very Best of Nina Simone', in the car and she just used to put that on and we would sing it together."

Grace is describing how the social soundtrack of her home - and car journeys - with her mum which would form the basis for the music she would later make as an artist. 

For Grace, it was here she would first fall in love with emotive vocals and unfiltered confessionals.
 
Grace grew up in North West London in Kensal Rise before moving to Brighton when she was nine. 

She took her formative musical inspirations to school, performing odes to Nina Simone's Feeling Good at primary school live auditions, but it was the later ballads of female singer songwriters like Alicia Keys and Adele that made her want to sing out her experiences. 


"I was singing along to them at the top of my lungs before I really knew what they meant!" she laughs. 

After moving to the predominantly white area of Hove, it was the feeling of alienation and disorientation thanks to her unconventional family set up - a single mum, a foster sister and absent father - that started to shape her. 

Grappling with her own mixed-race identity and the abandonment from her father drove Grace to write out all the things she couldn't say out loud, where she retreated to the safe space of her bedroom.

Outside her room, her musical education came via a local gospel church choir in her school, which she attended twice a week. 


"Me and my mum joined it and two days a week we could go there and I'd rehearse with all my friends that I'd made and we'd learn about harmonies and all of that stuff and I absolutely loved it."  

But it was a challenge from her step dad who gave her first guitar, tasking her with making a song in a week that really made her inner artist come to life. 

"It was an acoustic guitar and he got it from like the Sue Ryder charity for like £20" she says. 

"He was a musician, is a musician, and gave me a guitar and said 'you have so many things that you've never said that frustrate you and anger you that you need to get out, so take this guitar and write a song for me in a week.' I only knew three chords but I couldn"t stop writing songs after that."

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 four-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."

She talks about the impact of Kanye West's productions which saved her forthcoming album from being a collection of solely ballads: 

"My publisher sat me down and asked me how I wanted it to sound…and he played me '808s and Heartbreaks' by Kanye and I loved it; it was so simple and so amazing and I can't even explain, it was like yeah ok, that's how to do emotion. 

"From that day, every song has had beeps on it!" 

Hers is a journey of transition that perfectly tells a story about coming of age, and overcoming heartache, drenched with emotional density and rich, R&B pop production. Make way for Grace Carter.

Find out more about Grace Carter HERE.

by: Mike Cobley



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