Hilary Grist
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Hilary Grist

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter

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Music

Press


"Melodies in Mind CJSF 90.1fm"

Hilary Grist was booked through my interest in her album 'On my Way'. She appeared on the January 9th episode of Melodies in Mind. It was the first episode to have the song circle feature. What I like most about Hilary's music is her slow paced approach, its very relaxing, and rare to be coming from a newer artist. Her singing takes prominence in the songs and make it special.

The show felt like a huge succes despite the fact that we could not get her keyboard working. She was able to use Rob Fillo's acoustic guitar (thanks Rob) and make fantastic use of it. In person Grist is a smiling spirit full of fun. It was a real pleasure to have her in studio. The show will always stick with me because of the debut of the song circle. It would not have been the same without Hilary Grist. - Ryan Fletcher


"Live Review Aug 10th, 2009"

Hilary Grist at the Railway Club

Chances are if you haven’t heard Hilary Grist yet, you will hear of her very very soon. I found myself lucky to stumble into the Railway club on a Tuesday in August to happen upon a very splendid show. When I arrived the stage was being prepped for the second set of the night.

Hilary, a reasonably small girl was lifting up a rather large full sized white keyboard, which looked to have weighted keys along side a similarly looking lady on the violin. She had a very warm and hospitable way to her right off the bat, welcoming everyone to cozy up for her impromptu set, stating that the violin player (Linda Bull) had tried out the songs with her for the first time that very afternoon. We were Hilary’s guinea pigs apparently, with her playing some of her brand new songs that had never been performed as well as ones she hadn’t played in years. It deemed to be a very enchanting 45 minutes we were about to ‘cozy’ into.

Right away I felt that Hilary had the skill and quirk to her piano playing that harked Randy Newman; technical quazi-jazz with a full dynamic range and a light and fun touch. Her voice was full of character, warm and compelling, sophisticated and saucy, I loved it! Linda was a mighty fine addition to the songs as well, quite a confident violin player with so many ideas tucked in her socks and her vocal harmonies were tightly matched. It’s shows like these that make me proud of what is coming out of BC.

I remember specific songs because they were so catchy but I never did catch the names. I found that Hilary explored two moods in her music: fun kind of pop songs which make me think of Feist, Nora Jones or Fiona Apple; and ballad style songs which were full dynamic range, lots of discretionary stops. It’s almost that she becomes a character and the words are her lines, the way she delivers grabs you tenderly and there’s no way of escaping the feeling of her captivating you.

It seemed that Hilary played 3 of each of these styles, on the pop side: one song which was catchy and I think it was inspired by Debbie Gibson, it had handclaps, a fun piano part and it made you bop in your seat. The second song was one which to me was quite epic, she had so many hooks up her sleeve and when you thought it wouldn’t get any better (because it was already pretty fantastical) Linda started just rocking out on her violin. It was almost like I could hear a whole band behind her and I was so excited about this song that I had to shout some “woots” during the applause. The third song, she had a cool rhodsy sound on her piano, it made me think of Stevie Wonder for some reason. She multitasked an unforgettable bass line with the left hand, while alternating some snazzy chords with the right. I believe the song was called ‘Stick of Dynamite’ at the end she sang accapella while clapping the beat and soon enough everybody in the room clapped along too.

The other style of songs was just as amazing: The first song she played, she swooped from note to note and matched up some simply gorgeous harmonies with Linda. The second of this type, I believe she said she wrote it for someone’s wedding. It was a swaying love song that was whimsical and adoring. Then there was a song that I would hazard a guess at being called ‘Better’. It had the same power as the song, ‘Wild Horses’ by the Rolling Stones, it almost brought tears to your eyes -watching her sing it and I think it was my favorite of the night.

Hilary has a virtuosic tone to her voice with a very meaningful presentation of the work and I believe I over heard that she is mixing an album which will be out in the late fall or early winter. Keep your eyes and ears peeled because she might be the next stranger darling under your radar.

Alice Kuhl
- Left Hip Magazine


Discography

(2010) - 'Imaginings' 1st full length album.

(2009) - 'Little Ditties' Live off the floor, solo voice & piano album.

(2008) - 'Stick of Dynamite' Limited edition pre-release EP.

(2005) - 'On My Way' EP.

Photos

Bio

Hilary Grist might have gone to medical school had it not been for 80's bubblegum pop star Debbie Gibson, and she might’ve ended up as just another jazz noodler had it not been for a chance encounter with Norah Jones.

Now she makes music that combines Jones’ jazzy sophistication with the naïve pop whimsy of Regina Spektor, while dabbling in a variety of other styles like country, folk, cabaret, and orchestral.

On her third album, Imaginings, her “first child” with new husband Mike Southworth, Grist offers up her first fully-produced, fully-realized collection of work—one that sees her worldly sound enhanced with some elements that are distinctly Vancouver: Tim Tweedale’s unmistakable steel guitar and the Too Big To Care Marching Band’s unconventional brass embellishments, to name a couple.

The album kicks off with “Stick of Dynamite,” which introduces the uninitiated to Grist’s soft-edged vocals and flirtatious phrasing and features some funky vintage Wurlitzer. From there it moves through the quirky jazz folk of “About You,” the country strains of “Horizon,” and the cabaret stylings of “Back in Town,” before closing with the dreamy ballad “Save You for Last.” In addition to Tweedale (Headwater) and the Too Big to Care Marching Band, the huge array of guests on the album includes guitarist Dave Sikula (a Juno nominee with The Inhabitants), fiddlers Meredith Bates (Annie Lou) and Linda Bull (Plough); and backing vocalists Dawn Pemberton (No Shit Shirleys, Universal Gospel Choir) and members of the Parlour Steps, among many others. Award winning film composer Don McDonald (“Kissed”) wrote the string arrangements.

So how do Debbie Gibson and Norah Jones figure into this, you ask?

Well, Grist was a straight “A” student with a knack for sciences and an eye on medical school when a then-16-year-old Debbie Gibson showed up on the music scene with an album she had written and produced all by herself. Suddenly, Grist, a grade 10 Royal Conservatory piano whiz, was inspired to go after a career in music. Much to her parents surprise, after highschool the pre-med was shelved in favour of Capilano University’s well-regarded Jazz Studies program, which she attended as a Provincial scholarship student.

Five years later Grist emerged with a music degree in jazz but then immediately rebelled by spending two years listening to nothing but country music and, later, to Sarah Harmer. It was a chance encounter with a then-unknown Norah Jones that helped her reconcile her jazz studies with her own musical vision. Seeing Jones, a friend of a friend, perform her first Vancouver show at Sonar, Grist rediscovered her love of the lyricism of jazz vocalists and realized she could blend this with her pop and country influences too. Since 2005, Grist, who was born in Quesnel, BC and raised in Maple Ridge, has released two live-off-the floor solo albums, and toured across Canada numerous times to support them.

Hot off a recent Western Canadian tour and a sold out cd release show at the Cultch Theatre in Vancouver, Hilary Grist's Imaginings is on a musical roll. Her songs have been in high rotation and charted in the top 30 on campus radio stations from coast to coast and have also been featured on many CBC Radio programs including 'DNTO - Definitely Not The Opera'. Her music has also recently found legions of new listeners south of the border through the 'iTunes Indie Singer-Songwriter Spotlight Podcast' in the U.S.