Grace Knight is one of those rare performers whose vocal style just can’t be pigeon-holed. One minute she is singing pop songs with her band, Eurogliders; the next, she is performing jazz tunes in an intimate venue in Melbourne and, as I write this, the singer is recording an album of new material that does not necessarily fit neatly into either of those genres. But whatever style she takes on, Grace Knight comfortably makes it her own. “I’m a singer,” she declares in our recent interview. “That’s what I do. I’m really grateful that I’m able to jump from genre to genre. As a singer, my job is to tell three minute stories and I haven’t allowed myself to be locked into any one genre. To me, it’s all about the story so whether it’s a beautiful jazz song or a fantastically well written pop song by Bernie Lynch and Eurogliders, to me as long as the story is worth telling, how I tell it or the way in which I tell it is just a vehicle to tell a great story.”
Grace says that she is ‘really lucky’ to be performing at Bennetts Lane later this month as the iconic Melbourne jazz venue will be closing its doors soon. “It’s quite small,” she tells me. “But it’s really intimate and they have great staff and there’s great sound there. I’m very much looking forward to getting there with my band, playing songs off my latest album, ‘Keep Cool Fool’ but I’ll also be running a few new songs past the audience off my upcoming album.” Grace is currently in the studio recording that album, just as the new Eurogliders album, ‘Don’t Eat the Daisies’ is released.
It is with Eurogliders, of course, that the singer kicked off her musical career, enjoying success both in Australia and overseas. Then, after about ten years with the band, Grace and guitarist/songwriter, Bernie Lynch, took different paths. Bernie was writing music for theatre and headed off to Paris, helping to get his wife, fashion designer, Collette Dinnigan’s empire up and running. Meanwhile, Grace headed in a different direction, performing jazz music and recorded a few jazz albums. “It’s been very, very generous and kind to me,” she concedes but reveals that her new album will not be a jazz record. “I‘ll be doing something completely different. I can’t tell you the genre because I haven’t recorded the album yet and it will kind of reveal itself as it’s recorded. The one thing I can tell you is that the tracks are incredibly beautiful stories. It kind of has a feel a bit like Leonard Cohenish. They’re great stories.”
Music is in her blood. Grace grew up in a musical family so, she says, it is genetic. “My whole family are singers. My father was an opera singer. My granddad made records for ex pats in Canada. My nanna was a singer and, as kids, we used to spend a lot of time around the piano, singing. That’s what we did. I thought that’s what everyone did. So I have this kind of Scottish/Irish heritage that includes a lot of people just getting up and singing so it wasn’t something that I was intimidated by because it was something that we just simply did. I actually tried to get a job on a ship to come over to Australia to visit my sister because I didn’t have any money so I thought I’d work my way over and when they said to me, ‘Look, we’ve got all our waitresses; we’ve got all our kitchen staff. We’re just looking for entertainers,’ I said ‘Oh well, I can sing’ and nudged my boyfriend and said ‘Get your guitar out of the case and let’s start singing’ and we did and he gave us a job singing and that was the beginning of my singing career. I always try to encourage young people. If there’s a door there, open it. You can choose whether you walk through it or not but open it and have a look.” It certainly worked for Grace. “I’ve never been backward in coming forward,” she laughs.
The musicians who will be joining Grace at Bennetts Lane are what she refers to as ‘The A Team.’ “They’re my absolute favourite to work with. We recorded ‘Keep Cool Fool’ together.” Grace works with local musicians wherever she plays and is very proud of the fact that she contributes to employment in the local music community. “I was doing my accounts the other week and last year I employed 53 different musicians. What I do is if I’m playing a gig in Perth for instance, it’s very expensive to fly musicians around the country so for me to have flown three musicians over to Perth, accommodate them and pay their wages, there would be nothing left for me at the end so what I do is I take a music director with me and then we pick up musicians in each state. That allows me to have a business model. Singing is a creative thing but it’s also my business so I need to be able to run it in such a way that I’ll have a long and worthwhile career. Let me tell you, it’s taken very many years to do that but I’ve managed. It works well for me and it works well for them.”
You can see Grace Knight at The Gold Coast Arts Centre in Queensland or, if you are in Melbourne, don’t miss what will most likely be your last chance to see Grace perform at Bennetts Lane before they close their doors for good. Tickets will sell fast so make sure you get in quick.
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2015. All rights reserved
Tickets to Grace Knight’s intimate solo shows are on sale now from the venue or book through Grace’s website. Details below:
Saturday 14th March 2015
Gold Coast Arts Centre, GOLD COAST QLD
Saturday 28th March 2015
Bennetts Lane, MELBOURNE VIC
*** more dates to be announced in coming weeks
For more information please visit www.graceknight.com.au