Artist of the Month: Summer Grace

Photography by Ersta Ferryanto

Styling by Surina Harjani & Maggie Harney

Clothing & Jewelry from Pitaya, Athens, Georgia.

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Hometown: Marietta, Georgia.

School: Young Harris College

Major: Music with vocal performance emphasis 

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First music memory?

One of my earliest memorable performance experiences was back when I was 3 or 4 years old and did song and dance routines (think Shirley Temple) at talent competitions. At this one particular competition, which was a rather large event, I was singing “Swingin’ on a Star,” one of my standards. I got about halfway through the song before I had the all too familiar inclination that it was time for a potty break.

I was singing “Swingin’ on a Star,” one of my standards. I got about halfway through the song before I had the all too familiar inclination that it was time for a potty break.

At that age I guess I didn’t have much foresight and my mom must have forgotten to take me to the restroom before I went out on stage. Naturally I was terrified, and didn’t know what to do to other than cry out, “Mommy!” mid-verse and wet myself right on the spot. Shockingly enough I still got pretty good marks. Perhaps the most unfortunate part of this experience is that I’ve reconnected with old friends in years since who have opened the conversation with, “Hi! I was there when you peed on stage.” 

How did you get into music?

I started out singing—performing and competing by the time I was 3. I began piano lessons at age 5 and picked up guitar along the way. I still remember songs I wrote when I was 5 or 6. It sounds cliche, but music is really something that I’ve just always done. My Grandfather was a country recording artist and my mom was in the arts as a dancer and performer. I wish I had some awesome story about discovering my love for music, but I can’t even recall a time when music wasn’t an integral part of my life.

Summer

Favorite instrument you play? 

My favorite instrument I play is probably guitar. I love the possibilities that come along with different tunings and chord voicings and picking patterns. I think piano is actually my better instrument, ability wise, but there’s something intangible about guitar that really draws me in.

What’s your genre?

Folk-pop-rock. It’s like if Stevie Nicks and John Denver had a baby, and that baby joined Hanson.

How do you go about composing songs?

More often than not, I have some words lying around somewhere that I will then put to music. I keep a ridiculously long document full of random lyrics, sentences, and ideas that I am instantly adding to whenever something sparks in my brain. I come up with melodies on their own all the time, but I rarely craft words around them. I’ll usually go back through that file and try to find words or a concept that works with the melody and go from there.  Other times I’ll have an epiphany and sit down and write a whole song, music and words and all, on the spot. Those are usually the best ones.

It’s like if Stevie Nicks and John Denver had a baby, and that baby joined Hanson.


Stevie Nicks is a big idol of yours, what exactly is it about her that you identify with?

I’ve been doing music forever and writing songs for almost as long, but I somehow got it into my head in middle and high school that no one really cared what I had to say. I would write and I would throw it away. I was afraid that if I did show it to someone, they would think I was silly. Who cares what a little teenage girl thinks, right?

Then in my senior year of high school, I discovered Stevie Nicks one night while going down the YouTube rabbit hole, and I was completely mystified. I think I stayed up until 3 am every night that week watching, reading, and listening to every piece of media involving Stevie I could possibly get my hands on.  There was something about her on a superficial level that I really related to – she was a girl singer who sort of played some instruments and wrote girly songs.

I discovered Stevie Nicks one night while going down the YouTube rabbit hole. She is and was not ashamed of who she was or what she did or what she wrote about.

What amazed me was that she wasn’t afraid to be that way. She is and was not ashamed of who she was or what she did or what she wrote about. If she wanted to write about a failed relationship,or a welsh witch, or a book she read, she was going to write about it regardless of what anyone else might say. That really inspired me and motivated me to keep writing and to actually start sharing my songs with other people – putting them on the internet, playing them at coffee shops, etc. If she didn’t care what anyone else thought, why should I? It made me realize that what I had to say had worth intrinsically that had nothing to do with anyone but myself and the fulfillment it brought to me.

Now, my ultimately goal in life is to care about anything as much Stevie Nicks cares about whatever it is she sings. I think that’s what hooked me in the long run. I don’t have much in common with Stevie in terms of life experience… But when I listen to her music, I feel like I do and I feel like I’m going through it all right there with her because her emotion bleeds right into the words and the melodies. I get to live vicariously through her songs. To be able to evoke that sort of empathy is incredible.

Summer

Words to live by:

“Have no fear, only love.” It’s a modified line from “Gyspy” by Fleetwood Mac, and I think I signed it in every yearbook my senior year of high school. 

What do you want people to say about your work? 

I would hope, above all, that people would say that my work is honest. Good or bad doesn’t really matter so much to me; what matters is sincerity and truth. All I write about are things that I feel. Sometimes those feelings explain themselves, and sometimes I have to find a way to explain them through a story or a rhyme or a phrase. But ultimately it all boils down to emotion, and hopefully that shows through and maybe someone out there feels the same way.

If one person can relate to something I write, that’s success.


What sound do you love?

The silence and the stillness right as you are drifting off to sleep.

 What does success look like to you?

All I could ever hope to do is affect someone in some way. If one person can relate to something I write, that’s success. If one person sings along, if one person laughs, if one person cries, that’s success. I couldn’t really ask for anything more.

On Summer:  Audrey black boho dress, $39, Pitaya. Purple stone bracelet, $14, Torq gold bracelet, $10, crystal stone necklace, $12, horseshoe & black stone necklace, $12, Pitaya. 3-tier Minnetonka Moccasins, Maggie’s own. 

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