Folkadelphia Session: Gillian Grassie

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Harpist Gillian Grassie‘s musical resume is impressive and extensive. She has been a recipient of competitive grants to perform, travel, and teach around the world. You can’t keep her in one place – she is often found on the road, carrying her sizable instrument in tow. Last year, she crowd-funded her latest album, The Hinterhaus, via Kickstarter (and raised 175% of her initial goal). It only makes sense that her music is the subject of frequent critical & peer acclaim. As you can tell, Grassie is an accomplished musician – an inventive singer, songwriter, composer, and performer with influences that run the gamut. You can hear stylistic fragments of Baroque fugues here, Joni Mitchell there, Weimar era influence here, American folk song there. Grassie absorbs, interprets, and creates a new world from a collection of bits and pieces, a sonic stitching where the harp is her loom.

But I did not know any of Grassie’s accolades before I asked her in for this Folkadelphia Session. I was certainly aware of her local popularity as a sought after musician (technically, she’s not so local now, as she splits her time between Berlin and Philadelphia). When I first heard The Hinterhaus through peer recommendation, that was all it took to convince me that we had to pursue recording together. Her music is rich and textured with the harp plucking and vocal runs flowing hand-in-hand, weaved together with precision and imagination. The harp and the voice – these two instruments remain the center of the album. What truly makes Grassie an uncommonn performer is the amount of soulfulness and strength she brings to each song, drawing from a deep well inside herself. You can hear this depth of spirit in her Folkadelphia Session, which features the traditional “Saro,” as well as a cover of Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You.”