Grace Carter’s the perfect example of how your past experiences shouldn’t define you. She’s faced struggles as a child but has used the best therapy available to her to overcome any demons – her song-writing.
The London-born singer/songwriter may still be young but she has a lot to say about life and from the sounds of it, a long soulful journey ahead of her. It helps that she’s signed to the same management label as double-Grammy and Brit winner Dua Lipa. Grace tells Susie Daniels all about music choir, Brighton and her bestie Dua…
Music and her mother have been the constants in Grace Carter’s life that have helped her maintain stability, love and a confidence to believe in herself. The soulful singer from west London, who sounds like a cross between Jess Glynne and Rebecca Ferguson, has kept it real while touring with more BRITS winners than I care to mention from Dua Lipa (below) and Jorja Smith to Rag n Bone man. And it’s all thanks to her constants who have helped save Grace. Being abandoned by a parent from a young age had a detrimental effect but thankfully Grace joined a choir which helped her become part of a group, feel loved and realise she had a special talent.
Over the years her talent was nurtured and at only 14 she was already performing her own material in public. She then joined music college and taught herself to play the piano thanks to YouTube. So it comes as no surprise that Grace has just returned from headlining the BBC introducing stage at SXSW in Austin, Texas. Grace explains the positive impact of music on her life: “Music is the one thing that saved me. “I started writing when I was 12 years old. When I was a tiny kid it was very hard.
“My dad had left at a young age and at school you see a book with a family – a mum, dad and kids – but it was just me and my mum. Song-writing made me understand myself and my feelings. I wasn’t academic at school. I was never in a good grade class so it wasn’t that I was going to uni. When I got to 15 years old I thought, ‘what am I going to do?’ Music is the one thing that had changed me so much.”
The talented singer, who was influenced by musical soulstresses like Lauryn Hill, Nina Simone and Erykah Badu, has written many sad, reflective songs on rejection and abandonment including Why Her Not Me, Silence and Ashes and sings with believable sentiment on a par with Adele and Emeli Sande though perhaps not quite with the same range. Though her music isn’t cheery it’s been cathartic for Grace and for fans, so many will tap into that feeling. Grace says: “With my music (the lyrics) it’s not in a resentful way. I’m trying to get over everything so at the end of it in my music there’s the light.
“I’ve always done the writing but we all have our demons. I had therapy my whole life. Everyone should do it (therapy). One hundred per cent. Though song-writing is the most therapeutic thing for me. It’s just me in my room writing, getting it all down.”
At the age of nine Grace’s mum moved away from west London to Brighton. Although she didn’t leave the country it was quite a culture shock from inner suburbia to an English seaside resort and just like most kids, it was a struggle at the start to fit in and meet new friends, especially feeling so out of place. Grace recalls: “There’s ups and downs to moving away from the place where you built a family. In West London, the school that I went to was very diverse. I moved from London to Brighton when I was nine years old. Where I moved to I was the only mixed race kid in my class. My mum is white. It was a very different life. I didn’t have any friends but I started a church choir and it’s the first time I met people like me that had common interests. We did harmonies and singing.”
The female artist doesn’t miss a paternal influence now, as it’s been so long she hardly recalls it. In fact, she’s had such a strong feminine influence in her life it no longer seems to matter. She explains: “I knew him (my father) enough as a kid to know I didn’t mind him not being there. He wasn’t a constant. All my mum’s friends have always been round me and are powerful and inspirational. The biggest rock in my life – it might not be the cool answer but it’s the real answer – has been my mum and my managers. My managers hold it down for me. Every time I write I give a piece of myself away.”
Last year someone tweeted to Grace, ‘I think you will be a really popular, amazing singer that everybody loves’ but it’s not the love she needs for herself, more for her music.
Grace explains: “I don’t know if it’s important for everyone to love me. I want my music to connect to everyone and for it to have an effect.’
Her friendship with recent BRIT award and double Grammy winner Dua Lipa (collaboration with Calvin Harris) has had another positive effect on her career. Dua’s father orchestrated a music festival in Pristina to put Kosovo on the music festival map and invited Grace to sing at the event. Things seem to get bigger and better following her European tour, the SXSW performance and her nomination for the BBC Sound of 2019 this year.
Grace says: “Every day something new is happening. I toured with Dua Lipa on one of my first tours. She is such a good friend.
“Seeing people react to her music is so rewarding. I’m so proud of Dua. The fact she won two Grammys blows my mind. “She’s from Pristina in Kosovo and her father threw a festival there for her last year and I played. It was amazing!”
Grace Carter will play The Blue Arrow in Glasgow on March 28th.