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Interview with Julie-Anne Grace
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
As a child music was like an escape to me. I used to hide in my wardrobe in my room and sing. Growing up in abusive household, music took me away into a world where I felt safe. Had it not been for music I would probably gone even deeper into therapy and healing work, particularly in the area of trauma recovery, as it is always something that has interested me and I have combined it with my music.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I absolutely love to travel and have visited 93 countries in five continents. I think meeting all sorts of people from different cultures/walks of life – seeing both the outstanding beauty and the hardships of the world has greatly influenced me with my creativity, providing endless material.
How long have you been making music?
I have been singing as long as I can remember but songwriting only for about six years. It was something I discovered I could do when I was in a very dark place following my divorce, having left an abusive marriage and leaving California for Bali, Indonesia. That’s where I wrote my first album called “Met by grace.” Suddenly words with the depth of what I was feeling started to flow and I would write them down. I started to sing the words and songs started forming. It went from there. It was a great form of release to me nd very healing. It helped me get through that time.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
Right now I live between Spain and Emsworth, a small pretty town near Chichester. I spend about half of the year in each. Both have views of the ocean, which inspires me hugely.
Tell me about your most memorable shows, if you haven’t played live what is your vision for a live show?
Toulouse Lautrek, Kennington. Lantern Arts Centre, Raynes Park. Jazz Festival, Idyllwild Bali Spirit, Bali.
Probably most memorable is The Lantern Arts Centre in London. It’s only a small venue but it was the first time I told my story through my music – my first album. I narrated between the songs and had a screen with images behind me – images of various stages and people in my life along the way. Many of the people who have supported me along the way were there too. It was full of joy and inspiration. I had so much feedback afterwards from people attending who had suffered narcissistic abuse and how much it had inspired them.
That was when I realized what I wanted to do going forward, I knew it with every cell in my body that I could use my own healing journey via song to inspire others and provide hope. It has given my own journey such meaning and purpose.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Alicia Keys, Barbara Streisand, Marvin Gaye, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Ed Sheeran, Cat Stephens, Gregory Porter
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Take all of your experiences – the joy and the pain and write about it all. Go to the depths – really get in touch with the feelings and write it all down. Then transfer that to the stage. Be transparent and authentic and be yourself. Because when its real, people get it, they feel it. And people remember what we make them feel.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I’m loving again. I wrote it one bright spring morning in my local park. I was walking and I noticed the daffodils. the birds singing, the smiles of the people I passed. I just felt such incredible gratitude. I knew I had turned a corner and knew I would be okay.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Met by grace, Dance to each other’s beat, Down on Santa Monica Beach, I’m loving again, Your life has a special meaning
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
I tend to keep a list of topics I’d like to explore. They are usually connected with challenges I’m having at the time or something that brings me joy. I’ll add to the list until I have enough to write an album, then whittle it down to a list of twelve topics. Then I’ll start writing. I keep my phone recorder at the ready at all times so I can record any lyrics or bits of melody that come to me. I know it can come at the most unexpected times – in the middle of the night, in a restaurant with friends, talking to my partner, on my morning walk – literally any time. But I gain most of my inspiration through nature – parks, trees, mountains, and especially water. My little cottage in Spain has a roof terrace with a view of the sea and my partner’s house on the south coast also has views of the sea – the ocean has always inspired me massively – its vastness, like endless possibilities.
Do you have messages that you like to get across in your music, if so please tell me about them?
Yes. My message is that there is love after pain and hope after despair. I have suffered childhood and spousal narcissistic abuse and can attest to the agony of it. Not feeling loved and accepted and feeling powerless. Not having any healthy role models as a child and feeling worthless and unlovable. All of this plus not having any healthy boundaries can leave us highly susceptible to abuse in adulthood. I know what it’s like to feel utterly hopeless and not want to go on living.
But I know it is possible to heal. For me, the answer was to really start to feel my feelings rather than avoid them. To start to love myself and start to be the parent to myself that I never had. Specifically, I also learned how to release and heal trauma. It is the trauma that causes the painful feelings, the anxiety, and depression. When we heal and release the trauma and focus on loving ourselves and learning about boundaries, everything changes.
Escaping an abusive marriage having lost everything – my home, work, family – I have built strong supportive friendships, found love, bought a home in Spain, created a beautiful home with my partner in the UK. I feel alive and free. I am not a victim or merely surviving abuse, I am really living and fulfilling my dreams.
This is my message to others suffering abuse. You can heal and you can be free. You can live the life you were born to live.
It gives me so much joy to deliver this message through my own healing journey and my music. I really feel this is what all of my experiences have been about. To bring me to this place.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
To keep doing more of the same. Getting my message out there as much as possible. Writing, performing, sharing my story – following my intention to get it heard by the people who need it most.
I have a performance coming up on Sunday, April 23rd to coincide with the release of my second album “She Sings, She Soars” April 15th.
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The performance is at Toulouse Lautrec Jazz Club, Kennington, London
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?