Photo | www.madisongrace-singer-songwriter.com
Band: Benefit for Friends of the Mobile Animal Shelter feat. Madison Grace
Date: Friday, Sept. 13 at 6:30 p.m.
Venue: The Listening Room of Mobile, 78 St. Francis St., thelisteningroommobile.com
Tickets: $20 available through the venue’s website
The Listening Room of Mobile will be combining efforts with Friends of the Mobile Animal Shelter for a philanthropic evening of music featuring local up-and-comer Madison Grace. Since releasing her debut album at 17, this singer-songwriter has been persistent in both creating and promoting her music.
One appealing quality of her original material is the versatility of each song based on Grace’s sonic environment. When armed only with her piano, Grace takes on the air of Tori Amos with an edge. When joined onstage with other artists, her music resonates with the glory of modern pop. Now, Grace and a group of local musicians have formed AudioViolet, which she promises will showcase her rock sensibilities. Lagniappe’s Steve Centanni decided to get better acquainted with Grace and her music.
Steve Centanni: What made you want to get involved with the Friends of the Mobile Animal Shelter benefit?
Madison Grace: My parents have owned a pet store for my whole life, and I’ve been working with animals since I can remember. Really, just any opportunity to get involved with helping animals is something that I want to do.
Centanni: When did you start falling in love with creating music?
Grace: When I was 14 I had a friend that was singing. I was like, I don’t know. I probably can’t sing. Then I started taking voice and piano lessons because I was interested. Literally not even half a year later, I wrote my first song. From there, I just fell in love with it.
Centanni: What was it like putting that first song together?
Grace: My first song was about my boyfriend at the time. He was going to leave for college. I wrote a song called “I Don’t Want to Lose You.” It was all about love and when you grow up and get old, there’s always the chance of meeting and getting back together.
Centanni: Now that you’ve got songwriting experience under your belt, what do you think about that song when you look back on it?
Grace: It has a special place in my heart, because it was my first song, but it’s really not me at all. I look back on it and I really don’t want people to hear it, but it is something special to me.
Centanni: How would you compare your songwriting process now to when you first started out?
Grace: It’s basically the same. I honestly don’t even know how it happens. I start singing a melody and then the words come. Afterwards I put piano chords to it.
Centanni: Your first album was “Equilibrium of Contradiction.” You recorded that when you were 17. What was your first experience in the studio like?
Grace: I was so nervous. At that point, I had really only performed live maybe once or twice. So, I was even uncomfortable singing in front of the engineer. It was really nerve-racking for me. I spent almost a year in the studio and recording. I released the album right before I graduated high school.
Centanni: Where did you record that one?
Grace: I recorded it at Day 6 Entertainment with Matt Damico.
Centanni: What’s the story behind the title?
Grace: What I always go for in life is to try to do something that no one else has done. I don’t know why. I was like, nobody else has probably chosen that as an album title. A lot of times I feel like I contradict myself in my songwriting, especially on values that I have. With so many contradictions in life, there’s always an equilibrium, which is you.
Centanni: You’ve had a lot of things going on since the release of that album. I think the first time that I saw you was at the SouthSounds Music Festival, and you’ve also done MOB Fest. You’ve played in front of many people. What’s it been it like as an up-and-comer in the local scene? What have been some of the challenges?
Grace: Really, it’s just trying to find where I’m comfortable on stage. I started playing behind the piano. A lot of times I felt like I was hiding behind the piano. Recently I started a rock ’n’ roll-type band where I’m the singer. I have so much more confidence doing that. It’s really taken some time to become more confident on stage.
Centanni: That band that you just mentioned is AudioViolet. How did this band come together?
Grace: Well, it kind of started off with me and my boyfriend. My boyfriend is my lead guitarist. We just started playing some of our songs together. He has a friend who is a bassist. Then we all started playing and added a drummer. So it was one step at a time, but we’ve had so much fun playing in the band. It makes it so much less stressful on you as an artist. It feels like you have a team around you to support you.
Centanni: With that said, what’s it like writing with the band?
Grace: I really don’t write with the band. I still write all of my melodies and lyrics and chords independently. It’s kinda like a private thing for me. I never tried writing with the band. Of course, they write their own individual parts, but the songwriting is still just me. I do feel like since starting the band I’ve gone a little more rock ’n’ roll with my songwriting. It really depends on what kind of music that I’ve been listening to at that period of time. That decides what genre of song that I write.
Centanni: The Listening Room of Mobile is a great place to catch you, and it’s been one of your favorite venues. What is it about that venue that has made you a regular visitor?
Grace: Other than the support from Jim Pennington and Johnny Cole, who is a regular there and a music journalist, it’s just The Listening Room gives you a platform where you can not only share your song, but you can also share the rawness of it and the story behind it. I think that’s really important as a singer-songwriter. You want to tell the story, too.
Centanni: Keeping in mind the new band, what have you been working on?
Grace: I’m trying to record an EP with the band. So, that should be really fun. Then I’m also doing stuff separately. I have two different projects that I’m working on. I’m doing rock with the band and pop by myself. We’ll see what comes out first. I have no idea.
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