An extension of the WXPN Artist To Watch program, Black Opry Residency is a six-week artist development program that aims to help Black Americana artists build sustainable careers and broaden their audiences. Black Opry Residency has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
Get to know Grace:
Who are your favorite artists right now?
boygenius, Indigo de Souza, Joy Oladokun, Julia Jacklin
Who is your dream artist to work with and why?
I jokingly call Brandi Carlile my musical mother. Ever since I was a teenager, Brandi has represented the kind of artist I strive to be. No bullshit, big voice, and bigger heart. She has used her privilege and platform to uplift the voices of minority artists to an extent I’ve never seen before. It’s truly inspiring and unfortunately not done enough. My favorite album of all time is The Firewatcher’s Daughter and it is often a safe place for me to go when I need it.
What was the best live music experience you’ve ever had?
Back to my musical mother Brandi Carlile! When I was 18, I saw Brandi play at a small theatre in Fort Lauderdale, FL with my mom. It was just Brandi, her guitar, and her stomp box for an hour and a half. The way she held the room in the palm of her hand was indescribable. I play by myself 90% of the time, so seeing someone do so much with so little inspires me to this day.
What is one stand out memory in your career thus far?
The first sold out show I ever played was opening for Lucy Dacus at Northeastern University. I’ve have played shows with so many incredibly talented human beings, but at that point never someone who had made as much of an impact on me as Lucy. She is one of the kindest, most talented musicians I’ve ever met. Having her share her platform with me, a small DIY artist in Boston, has continued to shape my career and opportunities even 4 years later.
What has been your experience thus far in the Americana music scene?
As a disabled Black woman making folk music, this is a complicated question to answer. If I had to summarize it in a few words: inspiring, frustrating, rewarding, taxing, rejuvenating, tiring. Being a minority in a genre like folk can often feel like a juxtaposition. Even though Black people created folk music, our existence in the scene is often received as a surprise.
This is why Black Opry has been so important in my life the past year. I have met and grown to love so many incredible artists who look like me, who have experienced life like me, who understand me. It has been an incredible force of energy to keep me going. I am so thankful that at this point in my career, there is a community of folks who want to uplift and hold our people.
Listen to the Grace Givertz below!