We had the good fortune of connecting with Nina Grace and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nina, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I’m the type of person who is curious about so many things. I may be pursuing a career as a singer and songwriter, but I have a past life as a dancer. I’m also very passionate about animal welfare and learning languages (currently learning Japanese). In college, my less creative career interests ranged from astronomer to sociologist to translator for the UN to veterinarian. I can say very clearly though, why I have chosen the path to leading a very creative life. There is no better method of expression than through art. I get to say so many things that would be difficult to express in everyday life. The craft of songwriting has an incredible power to pull things from my heart and mind and put it all together into something that is cohesive and relatable. My favorite thing about being creative – it can be such a connective force. And I see how that plays out in my music career because people share with me just how touched they are by the things that I write. I want people to feel understood through my music.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a singer and songwriter. I play a few instruments, but I mostly use piano as a tool to facilitate the writing process. On the piano is where a song comes most naturally to me. I make soulful, sultry, and jazzy music under the artist name of Nina Grace. I use a lot of personal experiences to write music for this project. I also take ideas from movies, books, overheard conversations and other outside sources for inspiration. Another thing I’ve been exploring is writing in a wide variety of genres for other artists and their projects. Co-writing is one of the most rewarding activities because it requires being vulnerable and sharing pieces of yourselves with your co-writer so you can make the best music possible! My music career so far has given me opportunities to make music for a Youtube series, a podcast, and special moments like the coming of a newborn. My favorite event so far has been playing cello at a mass meditation event and I would really like to do more in the music and wellness space. Merging all of the things that I care about is my brand. Nina Grace is an optimist, a fierce animal lover, and a spirituality and wellness advocate. I think that the music I make for my artist project is very different from my peers. It’s got an older sound, as does my voice. I’m heavily influenced by older music because of my parents. I’m very close with them and learned a ton about music from them. My father used to be a drummer and DJ, and we grew up with a large record collection. My mother is the queen of sing-alongs in the car and it’s still one of my favorite things to do with her. I grew up listening and singing along to Billy Joel, Norah Jones, Stevie Wonder, Hall & Oates, and the list goes on. I am most proud of my latest single, “WillItBe?”. It’s about finding hope in the midst of turmoil. I wrote the song with my friend, Barrie Rose, who is one of my favorite people to write with. I am not only proud of this project because of the finished product, but also because I made it with a network of friends. From the album artwork to the lyric video to the production and mixing, it was all made possible by the support and contribution of friends. I will always look back on the single fondly and I aspire to work in this way more and more. I think I got to where I am because I’m a fast learner. The faster I can absorb information, the faster I can advance along this path I’m creating. These are the key lessons I’ve learned along the way: 1. Trust yourself, regardless of whether it relates to a person or a project. 2. Most projects take longer than you expect. 3. A community can make anything happen (Shoutout to all the people who contributed to the Indiegogo campaign last year)! 4. (Cheesy alert!) Dreams do come true with persistence. Some of my goals from 1 or 2 years ago seemed so far in the future and they have already been accomplished. So that means all we need to do is keep moving forward! I will end by saying that pursuing a career with no set path is not easy at all, but it is very fulfilling. You get to do everything on your terms and your career is ever-evolving which keeps things fun and fresh!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First, I would like to give a shoutout to my family. Something I like to say is that I’ve lived many lives in this lifetime because of all my interests and pursuits. Regardless of my larger than life enthusiasm, my family has always been there to support me – whether by showing up to events or calling me to give me ideas for things like my next Instagram post, cover song, or gig venue. I am also so fortunate to have friends who rock my world and keep me going with encouragement on days when I simply feel overwhelmed to keep everything going. Second, I want to give credit to musical communities like NY Topliner and Songathon who fostered lasting and meaningful connections. These are music competitions and camps that helped me to meet people who are not only phenomenally talented, but also genuine and kind people. I’ve been able to write with many of them and I’m so excited about the material that has come from these writing sessions. I’ve grown a lot in my craft thanks to these peeps! Third, I want to give a shoutout to my Buddhist community and practice with an organization called Soka Gakkai International (SGI). Through chanting, we can harness the power of the universe to achieve our wildest goals and dreams. My vision is to bring happiness and peace to the world through my music. Knowing I’ve got this whole community fighting for me behind the scenes is a big motivation!
Other: Bandcamp: https://ninagracemusic.bandcamp.com/ Link to stream/download music: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/ninagrace/willitbe
Anna Azarov Photography Kevin Watkins