Gillian Grassie
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Gillian Grassie

Band Folk Acoustic


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"flaunts convention"

"...flaunts harp convention with a sassy assuredness."

"Her music deftly blends jazz, pop, folk and rock with mesmerizing effectiveness, with forays into techno and even bossa nova further blurring the boundaries of tradition."

"That she flirts with subjects seemingly incongruous with the harp's refined stereotype a one-night stand, for instance, in the Latin-inflected "Hi," and older men who hit on young women on the unreleased but frequently performed "Rewriting the Alphabet" displays a boldness that she is happily cultivating." - The Intelligencer

"The woman is real"

"...the type of musician you can only dare to dream exists"

"...a driven professional, a tough negotiator, an independent spirit, an intellectual calculator, and an innovator par excellence. She is a harpist/singer/songwriter who is brining the harp into the 21st century with honest songs of delight, hardship, vulnerability, and good times"

"...the 19-year-old multicultural, multifaceted, multitalented, beautiful young woman is real." - Ticket Magazine

"simply exciting"

"...the harp in this context is simply exciting."

"...lyrical imagery is sophisticated yet relatable, music combines a lot of stylistic elements, and does so in a way that sounds edgy and contemporary."

"...incredibly distinctive vocal approach."

"Superb!" - TAXI

"Serpentine Review"

"For pop fans with a craving for something a little different, Serpentine is a treat."

"Her wordy, imaginative tunes are all about growing up, whether confronting destructive behavior (the trip-hop-tinged "Tell Me") or accepting a lover's silence ("No Answer")."

"Subtly evoking the government's shameful responses to Iraq and Katrina, the folky "Sweet Metallic" casts America as a teenager who makes you proud and exasperates you at the same time."

Read the entire interview here: - Philadelphia CityPaper

"Music for America review"

“Grassie’s brand of eclectic pop is her own, and she would sound as comfortable in a large 5000-seat venue as she might in a small cafe.”

“...while her music and passionate lyrics can be accessible to a wide audience, it's her approach […] and the way her lyrics come off more like poetry than the standard pop song that makes her stand-out from the rest.”

“...she makes [the harp] sound like any string instrument that has been a part of pop and rock for the last 50 years.”

“Upon hearing such songs as "Sweet Metallic", "So Funny", and "The Train", one can hear shades of Tori Amos, Regina Spektor, and Joni Mitchell.”

“Grassie isn't just a casual artist hoping for casual fans, [her music is] something meant to be heard and absorbed.”

“…she can sing songs about the skepticism of love and the destruction of ones personal space [...] and still make it sound (bitter)sweet.”

“The sonics on this album sound great, with everything from horn and string sections to a stand-up bass and a Mellotron creating an audio picture that makes it sound as warm as the cover art suggests.”

“[Serpentine is] an album that belongs on every critic's best of list not only for the year, but for the decade.” - Music for America


"[Grassie] seems to have one thing most of her contemporaries lack, the ability to turn seemingly insignificant events, such as throwing up at a party, into songs worthy of everyone’s attention. Her lethal combination of melody, introspection and deeply personal lyrics places her high in the running for first in the “next big thing” category.

The record starts pretty much where it ends, with Grassie letting us into her world through lighter-than-air yet epic changes and hooks that would snag the biggest snob, I’m proof positive of that I suppose. She seems to bill herself as a harpist on the record’s cover, which is certainly accurate, but I think the real story here is the ability to tell a story that people actually want to hear through music that is sure to haunt you like a reassuring and melodious ghost. The pieces all fit together and I can honestly say I don’t have one really bad thing to say about this record. Everything, right down to the song lengths, is perfect.”
- Origivation


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



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.