Gracie Terzian (CLAS ’13) is a performing artist living in New York City. Her new album “Saints and Poets” comes out on May 5th. Ryan Catherwood, HoosNetwork editor caught up with Gracie for an interview.
HoosNetwork: What is your favorite performance memory from your time here at U.Va.
Gracie: My favorite performance in the music department was when I got to sing the lyrics I wrote for Wayne Shorter’s tune “Iris” with the great vibraphonist and guest artist, Warren Wolf, along with the UVa Big Band, led by John D’earth.
My favorite performance in the drama department was playing Eva Peron in Evita during my second year, directed by Bob Chapel. The role is vocally demanding, but it was incredibly fun and reminded me why I loved performing at a time when I was questioning the “life of a performer.”
HoosNetwork: You play a unique instrument in some of your performances, what exactly is that thing and how did you learn to play it?
Gracie: It’s called a harp ukulele and it has garnered a lot of attention mostly for the unusual way it looks–it’s really just a tenor ukulele with four bass harp strings. The bass strings add a nice low tone to the ukulele giving the instrument a rich color, and you can pluck them like bass notes in a song. I discovered it on the Internet, and taught myself how to play it on the Internet as well. Hooray for YouTube! I used handmade flash cards to teach myself different voicings for jazz chords. Now I’m experimenting with a new ukulele tuning that I came up with, and I’m making a whole new library of flash cards, which I keep filed in a shoe box. I really think it’s a superior tuning for jazz ukulele.
HoosNetwork: What was the inspiration for the song you played in the above video?
Gracie: I wrote “Love Rest” at a time when I was trying to move on from a breakup and had fallen in love with someone else. I think everyone knows how hard it is to let go of someone you dated for a long time–you still love and care about that person, even though you know there is someone else you should be with. My ex and I still had a very strong bond, so the song is about coming to terms with parting as a couple and letting the love “rest in easy peace.”
HoosNetwork: Do you have a favorite memory connected to one of your U.Va. professors?
Gracie: I spent most time working on acting with Bob Chapel and Richard Warner, but all of my professors had a great impact on me. Stephanie Nakasian taught me a lot about jazz singing, and Mike Rosensky taught me about singing with a band. My jazz piano teacher Wells Hanley opened my eyes to many things about song writing, and we started collaborating together. It’s hard to choose one thing, but I would say it was really exciting to work with Richard Warner as his assistant director for the play Elephant’s Graveyard. It was a great cast, and I learned a lot from him during the production.
HoosNetwork: How long have you been working on your new album, “Saints and Poets”? How would you describe the sound of your music?
Gracie: I’ve been working on “Saints and Poets” off and on for well over a year now, but I’ve been writing other music and working on other projects during that time. I’d describe the sound of the album as “coffee-house” jazz, easy-listening, cool, relaxing, etc. It’s not a vocal showcase — I sing fairly softly throughout it, but I wanted to set a cool and relaxing mood. (I do sing in other styles though!)
HoosNetwork: What’s the best way to follow all of your web updates and listen to other Gracie Terzian performances?
Gracie: Definitely “like” my music page on Facebook to receive updates. I also keep my personal website updated: www.gracieterzian.com. You can find me on YouTube, SoundCloud, and Twitter, Also search my name and follow on Spotify! Pre-orders begin April 7th on iTunes and the album comes out May 5th!
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