Graci Phillips: Whispers in the Wind

GRACI PHILLIPS GIVES US SWEET, sweet relief from the stresses of the world with her stunning EP releases, Burning House EP and Stopping by Woods. Her beautifully pure vocals dance over emotive and articulate lyrics, accompanied by an Americana-based indie pop/folk instrumentation, with songs like the balladesque EP title track, "Burning House," and the upbeat folksy swing tune, "Conductor Doctor." Her most recent release, Stopping by Woods, offers the wintery love song, "Rainy Tennessee," along with a few holiday songs that bear her signature sound and thoughtful arrangements — including a haunting and utterly euphonious musical interpretation of Robert Frost's famous poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening."

Graci's YouTube channel, which features both originals and covers, is full of beautifully performed lives with sweet harmonies that float gently over acoustic guitar. And with the promise of another album in the works, we have even more reason to stay tuned! If you're in need of a musician who brings some serenity to your day, Graci Phillips is exactly what you've been missing. Read on for our exclusive interview with this talented artist!

Graci Phillips - Nashville, Tennessee
Singer/Songwriter, Folk Pop, Indie
Song Submitted: “Little Coffee Shop

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Hey! I’m Graci Phillips, a singer-songwriter and a Nashville native! They call us unicorns, because it’s getting harder and harder to find people in Nashville who are actually from Nashville! I have two wonderful bandmates and we do indie folk-pop. I submitted to be featured because I think Deitra is really fun and really diverse! I thought it would be wonderful to be part of it.

It’s a great time to be making and consuming music!

MUSICAL BACKGROUND: I actually grew up in a very musical household. Both of my parents are musicians and met in the music industry in Nashville back in the 80s. This made for a really positive and encouraging musical environment growing up, which made it so much easier to pursue. My parents put out six or seven albums in my lifetime and I got to be part of that process and even perform on some them at a young age. So it was pretty fated that I would end up in music myself! I used to bring home stacks of CDs from the library and lock myself in my room for hours just listening. The last album my parents put out was a family album with me and my four siblings. We started recording that album while I was in high school and my parents let me record one of my original songs for the album. I had sung a lot, and even done vocals on some children’s albums, but this was my first time getting to see my own music come to life. It was so magical! One of the producers working on the album (the incredible Michael Demus!) really liked it and wanted to hear what else I’d been writing. That led to the creation of my first album, Catastrophe, and the rest is pretty much history! 

ON INSPIRATION: I find inspiration all around me. I process a lot of of my life through music, so sometimes it feels less like inspiration and more like necessity. That’s the really beautiful part of music in my opinion, how our real life experiences can help connect us to those around us. Sometimes you feel so alone in a situation and then you hear someone sing about something you’re feeling—it’s incredibly empowering. And healing. And cathartic. I love it! Music gives us permission to express thoughts and feelings that we don’t always feel like we are allowed to talk about. Giving yourself that permission is like setting your brain free.

It was pretty fated that I would end up in music myself...

SIGNATURE SOUND: I would call it singer-songwriter / indie-folk-pop / folk-rock! There is a lot of really amazing music being made in this realm right now. Andrew Bird, Madison Cunningham, Brandi Carlile, Fleet Foxes, Punch Brothers... just hearing the things that these artists are creating is so inspiring. It cuts straight across the mainstream trends like a hot knife. And honestly, I can’t get enough of it! It gives me all kinds of creative energy!

ON SONGWRITING: I write a lot about what’s going on in my life or in the lives of those closest to me. I usually feel more moved to write when I’m upset rather than when I’m happy, so I have a lot of sad songs! But I think it’s important to be honest about what’s going on in our lives. I have a lot of favorite new songs that we’re getting ready to record for the new album! But, of my recorded work, It Fades (Burning House EP), is definitely my favorite. It was a really honest and really hard song to write, but I’m really proud of the emotional expression that came out of it. But I really can’t wait for people to hear the new stuff I’ve been working on!

I get inspiration from everywhere around me! I pull lyrics from conversations I have, news stories, whispers in the wind—it’s honestly different every time! Sometimes I’ll be messing around on an instrument and some melody or chord progression will start coming to life, and then I try to match my lyrics to the vibe. Other times I get the lyrics and melody together and have to find the right music to go with it. It changes with every song, and I like it that way! It makes it feel like a creative offering instead of a regimented chore.

I process a lot of of my life through music, so sometimes it feels less like inspiration and more like necessity.

FAVORITE MUSICAL ERA: I looooooove 60s and 70s! And early 80s, actually. My all time favorite is The Beatles, duh. But I also love James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Al Green, The Beach Boys—so much phenomenal music was made in that time. But honestly, the singer-songwriter / folk scene is having a serious moment right now! Madison Cunningham is my favorite new artist and the stuff she’s putting out right now is just timeless. It’s a great time to be making and consuming music!

ON RECORDING + PERFORMING: My favorite things about music are writing and performing. I enjoy the recording process, but my heart is in performance. The connection you get to create, the moments—it’s unlike anything else. Connection is one of the most powerful parts of music and something I strive to foster and create safe space for. That’s also the best part of consuming music. Going out to concerts is one of my favorite things to do and the most memorable concerts are the ones where the artists are really intentional about making connections with the audience and creating these beautiful emotional experiences. Anyone can get on stage and play a song, but it’s something really special to open up your heart to your audience. That’s what I strive for.

That’s the really beautiful part of music... how our real life experiences can help connect us to those around us.

ON FASHION: My dream for my live show is to have a lot of whimsical elements. I don’t know what that looks like yet, but stay tuned!

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES: Is music easy for anyone to pursue? Or art in general? I don’t think that anyone these days is just handed the keys to the kingdom. It’s all about hard work and perseverance. There have been so many times it would have been easier to just get a “real" job or go back to school—but in the end that wouldn’t fulfill me like music does. There is always going to be something in the way, something that would be easier to pursue than music. But my art is important, all art is important! And it’s worth fighting for. And, honestly, sometimes the person I’m fighting is myself. I can be my harshest critic and my worst ally. Which is one of the reasons I’m so thankful for the community around me that encourages me. My husband, my friends, and my family are all my biggest supporters. I think self doubt and insecurity are many artists' biggest hardships.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: I definitely think the highlight over this last year was playing for 50,000+ runners and spectators at the TSC NYC Marathon last November! The energy was amazing and it was a huge privilege getting to cheer the runners on with my music!

Music gives us permission to express thoughts and feelings that we don’t always feel like we are allowed to talk about.

FUTURE HOPES + DREAMS: My hopes and dreams definitely include touring more! We would love to be opening support for another band. But in the mean time we’re busy at work in Nashville! We’re in the beginning stages of this new album and I am just over the moon about it. It’s a really personal album, because these songs were written in some of the hardest times of my life. Themes of religion, family relationships, and figuring out how to grow up gracefully are the heavier topics of the album as they’re the things I’ve wrestled with the most the last couple years. Gearing up to share these songs is scary and empowering all at the same time. While no one has experienced exactly what I have, these feelings are universal and it’s so powerful to get to share them with others.   DM

Official Website:

Written by Tamara Styer.
All photos property of Graci Phillips. 

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