Read is an American singer-songwriter from New Hampshire. She primarily plays
the electric piano, though she writes on both piano and guitar. Her songs vary
on topic and feel, ranging from a haunting lullabye-esque waltz about a dragon,
to heartfelt, and heartbreaking narratives of lost youth. Grace cites the
well-roundedness in her songwriting having a lot to do with her upbringing. Born
to liberal, supportive parents (her father a sound-engineer, her mother an
artist), and raised in what she's referred to as "The Woods" of New
Hampshire, Grace was encouraged to embrace her lucid imagination in the often
story-book like nature of New England. She was exposed to many genres of music,
literature and art. Her influences include the lectures of Stephen Hawking, the
literary works of Lewis Carroll and the Brothers Grimm, and the music of Tom
Petty, Jeff Buckley and Joan Baez.
In the summer of 2007, she toured with Jesse Lacey (of Brand New) and Kevin
Devine. The three performed separate sets, but Grace contributed to many of the
other artists' songs, including Kevin Devine's ‘Brooklyn Boy’ and Jesse
Lacey's ‘Play Crack the Sky’. Her live show is intimate and fun, though she
professes she's shy, she often talks to the audience between songs, cracking
jokes and poking fun at herself. In turn she was widely accepted and embraced by
new fans, and received positive written reviews.
Q: Do you think of your lyrics as poetry?
A: In a sense, yes. I think
any time you're stringing words together with pattern and intent, it can be
Q: Do you
think it is important that songs rhyme and if so why?
A: I don't think it’s absolutely pertinent that lyrics rhyme. I'm sure
I'm guilty of not rhyming in every song. It's completely dependent on the
writer, what they're feeling, and how they are trying to convey that with their
words. Sometimes rhyming doesn't come naturally in what you're trying to
express. Sometimes it does.
Q: Do you think song lyrics must conform to recognised song structures
such as clear rhyming schemes, choruses, refrains, hooks and bridges or that
songs can also be like free verse?
A: When it comes to music, poetry, or art of any kind, I don't think
conformity holds much water. The point of art is freedom of expression. While
song structure can make a song more pleasing to the ear, with patterns and
hooks, some of the greatest songs have completely random structuring.
Radiohead’s ‘Idioteque' has a seemingly odd structure. But it works, that song
Q: When you read poetry in school or elsewhere did you recognize any
connection to the music you enjoyed?
A: I had one really great teacher in high school that centered his
curriculum on music and poetry. He'd include anything from Robert Frost and
Shakespeare, to Cat Stevens and Pink Floyd lyrics. I'd always enjoyed poetry,
but I think that class helped me to listen closer to the lyrics of my favorite
Q: Was there anything about poetry in books that influenced your
A: Lewis Carroll has been one of my favorite writers since I was a little
girl. I was reciting ‘The Walrus and The Carpenter’ before I'd written my
first song. Something about his imagery, and the playfulness of his poems. I
remember reading Jabberwocky when I was really young and being scared out
of my mind. His usage of portmanteaus was so effective. Even in being so young,
I understood completely the horror of the Jabberwocky and the courage and glory
of the little boy. I tend to write songs involving mythical things, like dragons
fighting soldiers, or sometimes I'll write something about some nightmare I had.
I think Carroll’s imagination helped me to be okay with expressing my own.
Q: Why do you think songs are more popular with people than poetry is?
A: Music is a baffling force. There is something about it that evokes
unstoppable emotion. Even an instrumental piece can make you feel something. You
could hear a simple melody in a minor chord, and start thinking of your last
love lost. When you couple that with lyrics, it becomes this really powerful
thing. Poetry on it's own requires more attention. I've definitely read poetry
that's affected me more than a song has, but as far as the general public goes,
I think songs will always be more popular.
© Grace Read