At sixteen, Stephanie Grace wants to be country music's next singing star. 'I started with no musical background in my family,' says Grace. 'It just kind of came to me. The first time I sang in a talent show is when I realized I could sing in front of people. So, that was milestone where I was like, 'Alright I want to do this.''
Possessing the talent, drive and determination of a seasoned veteran, this Douglasville, Pennsylvania native is poised to take her talent nationally. With her sophomore EP album, 'Life's OK,' released on Nov. 5, Grace is looking forward to giving her fans a collection of new songs.
'I'm very excited about the EP coming out,' says Grace. 'There are six songs, and I wrote five of them. The title speaks for itself. The theme is about dealing with struggles in life but dealing with them in a positive way - keeping your head up and laughing at yourself.'
Grace recently released her first music video for her current single, 'Loser,' an anti bullying song.
'Making the music video for 'Loser' was a lot of fun, but I truly hope it opens people's eyes and reminds them to watch how they treat people. Sometimes the person you bump into in the hallway is gonna be the one to go off in life to do incredible things.'
Grace became a fan of country music from an early age thanks to her parents routinely exposing her to a variety of artists.
'I grew-up around country music, because my parents were always listening to it in the car and around the house,' recalls Grace. 'It was only the kind of music I had ever known. To me, I think it is so genuine. Country music is so focused on the lyrics and telling a story. It's a very relaxed atmosphere.'
Influenced by Miranda Lambert, LeAnn Rimes, The Band Perry, Adele and Colbie Caillat, Grace considers herself a well-rounded artist to whom songwriting is just as important as live performance. With more than 70 of her own songs in her arsenal, her approach to writing a song is simple.
'At first it didn't come easy,' says Grace. 'But then I learned that you write about what you know. I write about different feelings that I've had and try to make it sound better than it actually is. The sky's the limit when it comes to songwriting.'
Maintaining a balance between school and music has been Grace's most challenging hurdle. As a junior at Agora Cyber Charter School, she has established a routine that enables her to pursue a burgeoning music career while managing her studies.
'Education is super important to me, and I'm glad we found a method that works with my schedule,' says Grace. 'Last year, my sophomore year, I started cyber schooling. It has been great. It's very independent and flexible. I think it will make traveling and focusing on my music a lot easier.'
Sharing the concert stage with a variety of well-known artists in her young career, Grace recalls a pinnacle moment that not only gave her a memorable experience but also helped her formulate her own idea of the type of artist she wanted to be on stage and off.
'The very first artist that I ever opened up for was Taylor Swift,' recalls Grace. 'I was 9 years old. She was 16 at the time, and no one really knew who she was. She was doing a festival in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I won a kid idol contest, and the prize was to sing at this festival right before the opening act, which was Taylor Swift. I got out there and sang and met Taylor afterwards. She was one of the coolest people I had ever met. I remember how much she taught me about people coming to hear you sing and how much you need to appreciate it. She really taught me a lot by how she treated me.'
Through performing at local restaurants and music festivals Grace soon came to the realization that being a country singer was a viable career path and her calling in life.
'When I was eleven years old I had my first paying gig,' recalls Grace. 'I played at a restaurant, and I actually had people come to hear me, and I got paid. I thought, 'Oh my gosh, I can do this for a living.' That's when it hit me that this is all I want to do, and I can make a living doing it''
Above and beyond her musical influences, Grace credits her parents for her work ethic and the support and success she has enjoyed so far.
'I have a family that is very down to earth and they keep me grounded,' says Grace. 'They constantly remind you that you're doing what you love, and if other people love it that's great too, but you can't let it get to your head.'
'While I can't be sure what the future holds,' added Grace, 'I know that as long as I'm singing country music, I'll be living my dream!'
There have been, and continue to be, opportunities to catch Stephanie Grace performing live locally.
On Nov. 3, Grace hosted an acoustic show at Redner's Markets Family Expo at the Greater Reading Expo Center, 2525 N. 12th St., Reading, PA. 19605. For more info visit rednersfamilyexpo.com/visitor.shtml
On Nov. 9 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., she will be hosting a CD release party with her band at Building 24 in Wyomissing. Tickets are $10 (adults) and $5 (kids/ students) and can be ordered online at Ticketfly.