Born to musicians in Southern California, Grace McLean showed early interest in jazz voice and studied under Carmen Bradford, protege to Ella Fitzgerald, in Los Angeles and later with singer Melba Joyce, Carmen's mother, in New York. She earned her BFA in Drama from New York University and has since collaborated with country singer Mary McBride, bluegrass band Jones Street Station, singer/pianist/composer Gabriel Kahane, and composer/director/author/theatrical giant Elizabeth Swados.
Grace composes on piano and bass. Having no formal training on either instrument, she has developed a sparse, plunky style that under-lines her often irreverent, always truthful lyrics and highlights the main instrument: her soulfully honest voice.
Justin Goldner - Bass
Hiroyuki Matsuura - Drums/Cajon
Kate Ferber - Vocals.
Liana Stampur - Vocals.
Grace McLean - Demo
Concert Review: Grace McLean and Sarah Mucho and Kurt Leege at the Delancey, NYC 8/18/09
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Grace McLean really opened some eyes: as a keyboardist and bassist, she’s still taking baby steps, i...Grace McLean really opened some eyes: as a keyboardist and bassist, she’s still taking baby steps, in stark contrast to the richness of her songwriting and her sophistication as a jazzy song stylist. From the sultry soul number that she opened with, a-capella, it seemed obvious that she’s spent some time out in front of a jazz band – the nuances, the effortless leaps and the out-of-the-box playfulness of her vocals are dead giveaways. Likewise, her songwriting is packed with devious tempo shifts, rhythmic devices, wickedly clever wordplay and a laugh-out-loud sense of humor, sort of a Rachelle Garniez Junior. Her number about being in love with her friend’s roommate had the room in hysterics and was something of an indelible New York moment. Likewise, a smartly swaying breakup number worked both as triumph over heartbreak and savage dis. The funniest song of the set was a breathless, rapidfire cabaret number about being jerked around by a clueless guy, done like Streisand with a graduate degree. Give this woman a piano player or a band behind her and there won’t be a cabaret room in town that she can’t rock.
The Good Graces of Grace McLean
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Reclining on pillows at the foot of a grand piano, being serenaded by the ever impulsive yet soothin...Reclining on pillows at the foot of a grand piano, being serenaded by the ever impulsive yet soothing, honeyed voice of Grace McLean is one of the more perfect ways to spend a winter’s Sunday afternoon.
On Sunday, February 7th, for a piece aptly titled “Living Room Experience”, McLean had turned a black box theater into a space so warm and comfortable, complete with paper lanterns strewn across the floor and a floor lamp by the piano, that it was redolent of being in a friend’s living room. The show was part of an ongoing singer/songwriter series called Music with a View at the Flea Theater in Tribeca. The event is defined as a “lab-like space” that is “dedicated to nurturing new works and to the free exchange of ideas, thoughts and opinions between artists and the audience”. McLean capitalized on this idea of a relationship with the audience by encouraging her attentive crowd to join her in breath exercises during her self-imposed “Intermission”, as well as asking them to close their eyes to let the images of a song titled “The Dream” wash over their imaginations. She also invited the eager young men and women to share a secret with their neighbor before launching into her “Secret Song” and the room momentarily erupted in whispers and giggles reminiscent of a child’s sleepover.
Her rapidly percussive songs, delivered with the utmost vocal control and perfect diction, were accompanied by Justin Goldner on bass and Hiroyuki Matsuura on percussion. The instrumentation of her music is subtle; a gentle background to her dynamic voice and clever, story-driven lyrics.
“I’m in love with my friend’s roommate/ I hope that he’s not gay/ Keep in mind it wouldn’t be the first time affections have wandered that way”
The series was the perfect forum for an artist like McLean who is an innately charming performer with sharp comic timing and an ease that makes her irresistible. One song flowed swiftly into the next, introduced by witty remarks and closed promptly with a simple ‘Thank you’. Her show left you longing to recreate those feelings of peace and bliss at home in your own living room. It would surely be much easier if Ms. McLean could be a permanent fixture next to the sofa.
I Miss My Baby - We're Just Friends - The Dream - A Song of Triumph in the Midst of Confusion - Haven't You Noticed - Do You Remember - Stood Up - California - My Friend's Roommate - Chose to be Me - Poverty Triumphant - Secret Song. Sets are usually 30-40 minutes.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.