I love NPR. Its news reportage is top-notch and NPR Music is a great source to find burgeoning acts. I happened upon one such act yesterday on its “Heavy Rotation” programming: Grace Love and the True Loves. The track was “Shake It Out” a funky, soulful call to the dance floor, the type of hip-shaking feelgood track the world needs more of. After hearing this song, I decided to find out more about Grace and the band, so I checked out the Seattle-based soul/funk outfit’s eponymous debut on Spotify.
I loved it. Similar to Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, but owing slightly more to the jazzy stylings of a Billie Holiday, the album is great. The True Loves as a unit are solid, with a tight rhythm section, tasty guitar work and brassy horns. On uptempo numbers like “Fire” the band is ripping some dirty funk and Grace provides the type of dusky, raspy vocals that turn a groovin’ song up several notches. On ballads like “Mean To Me,”deep, soulful voice soars.
After I listened to it, I headed over to Grace’s website and shot her an email, asking if she’d be willing to do an interview. She got back swiftly and the results of that interview are below (For a change, answers are in bold).
So, what’s the history of Grace Love and the True Loves? How did the band form?
Drummer, (David McGraw), bassist (Bryant Moore), and guitarist (Jimmy James) all were jamming and they wanted a singer to come into the fold – I was out of the country at the time. They kept Jamming- then Jimmy James asked when I was back if I would come out to one of the gigs and freestyle some songs, and I did after much hesitation. I was burnt out on music and people in the industry. I had a blast that first month. We came together super naturally. Thus, the True Loves were formed.
How long have you been singing for and when did you know this, singing for a soul band was the direction you wanted to head in?
I have been in the music world for a long time – I didn’t want to lead sing for a band. I didn’t trust the world to understand me, then you find writers like Jimmy James and his encouraging words and it just changes the look of any mirror you are looking at. I saw myself for the first time in the special form I am and in there was confidence to kill it on stage and for myself.
Who are your biggest musical influences/favorite artists?
The 2 major ones in this moment are Ray Charles, and the lead singer from Alabama Shakes, Brittney Howard.
As a female soul singer, is it tough to forge your own path without being compared to Aretha, Etta James and some of the other legendary acts?
I just bow in a humble tone, to be compared to greats is an honor, but the best part is I am unique in sound from all of them. So it’s not tough, but sometimes it’s a hard path to get the courage to walk on.
How long was the recording process, from songwriting to finished product?
We were at Studio Litho a month after we jammed, and the album was probably done within 3 months song wise, then mastering and such came later. So about 1 year.
What’s the most difficult part of recording an album?
Having a butt load of material to work from, and getting the right tone for the album. But to be completely honest, there weren’t any difficult moments, all of us wanted it so we all made the effort and time to make it happen.
Currently, you’re located in Seattle. Any plans to hit up the East Coast?
When we get the right gigs lined up – we are there in a heart beat. Know of any places?
If you could get a call tomorrow from any artist asking you to tour with him/her/them, who would you most want it to be?
California Honeydrops and Alabama Shakes
What would constitute “making it” in the music business for you? Is there a certain level of success you’re shooting for?
Making it is not giving up when someone tells you too. Making it is when you have no money in your pocket, but you busk anyway. Making it is putting your ego out of the conversation. I want to be comfortable and that means paying my rent for a year, paying off my car, and going to a place and walking in confident enough to know my card will go through. =)
Last question: If you could assemble a supergroup that records and plays a show for your benefit only, who would be in it? The group can comprise people living and deceased.
Ray Charles and the Count Basie ensemble.