Gillian Grassie

Gillian Grassie

BandFolkAcoustic

Gillian Grassie is a contemporary harpist/singer-songwriter whose signature brand of indie alt/pop is “music that is sure to haunt you like a reassuring and melodious ghost.” Somewhere between Regina Spektor, Feist, and Fiona Apple, Grassie manages to keep her songs “sophisticated yet relatable.”

Biography

Gillian Grassie (say: Jillian Grass-y) is a contemporary harpist/singer-songwriter whose signature brand of alt/pop has been described as “music that is sure to haunt you like a reassuring and melodious ghost." [Origivation] Her distinctive vocal approach, paired with a remarkable ability for storytelling, makes her first full-length effort, Serpentine, "a treat" [Philadelphia Citypaper].

Her clever songwriting is supported by extensive classical training in both harp and voice. Gillian's interpretations of traditional Scottish repertoire earned her first place prizes in five harp competitions and an invitation to perform at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival in 2001. In her youth, she sang with both national and regional ACDA honors choirs in such prestigious venues as Heinz Hall, Symphony Hall, and The National Cathedral.

Her use of the harp has prompted critics to call her “an innovator par excellence” [Ticket Magazine], and she has been featured in recordings with many artists, including John Legend, Jim Boggia, and Kuf Knotz. Grassie’s intensive instrumental studies of not only Celtic and Classical harp, but also Latin, Jazz, and electro-acoustic composition, as well as her collaborations with rock and hip-hop groups have paid off, and audiences agree that her accessible approach is successful in its goal of seamlessly incorporating the harp into the world of indie pop; “she makes [the harp] sound like any string instrument that has been a part of pop and rock for the last 50 years” [Music for America].

Gillian first began to hone her unique sound while living abroad in Switzerland during her sophomore year of high school. Inspired by the poetry of Philip Larkin she encountered in a British Literature course, and pulling from her musical loves of Joni Mitchell, Ani Difranco, Billie Holiday, Portishead, Bjork, Dar Williams, John Mayer, Kate Campbell and James Taylor, Gillian began crafting songs. By experimenting with inventive tunings, lever changes, dampening and percussive techniques to mimic bass, guitar, piano, and even horn patterns, she has created a style all her own and continues to push against the boundaries of the harp's traditional place in music.

Upon returning to the states, Gillian graduated high school early and jumped into Philadelphia’s open mic circuit, quickly becoming a local favorite. Her debut, independent EP To An Unwitting Muse, released in June 2005, sold out of its original pressing and helped her cross over onto radio territory, receiving airplay on WXPN, and making the top ten in Q102's "Have a Great Gig" contest. Her first full-length effort, Serpentine, was released in October 2007, and has received rave reviews, praised as “an album that belongs on every critic’s best of list not only for the year, but also the decade,” [Music For America].

Gillian Grassie was born on May 30th, 1986 and is a Philadelphia native. She is currently an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr College, where she studies Comparative Literature.

Discography

To an Unwitting Muse (EP) - Summer 2005
Serpentine - Fall 2007

Tracks that have received radio airplay:

The Surface
Mr. Houdini
Silken String
A Thousand "I Love You"s
Sweet Metallic
Better or Worse
No Answer

Set List

Gillian Grassie has performed countless 1-2 hour headlining sets, as well as numerous shorter opening performances. She has also played sets of up to four hours for private engagements, blending original material with select covers, standards, and instrumentals.

Gillian is an engaging performer who enjoys talking with her audience both during and after sets.

A sample 60 minute set of original songs:

Silken String
Pulse
Sweet Metallic
Better or Worse
Summer
Mr. Houdini
Empty Calories
The Surface
No Answer
Tamlin