Sailing by Grace Griffith
CD Released in 2010 by Blix Street Records
MULTI-AWARD WINNING VOCALIST GRACE GRIFFITH DEFIES PARKINSON'S DISEASE TO RELEASE SEMINAL SOLO ALBUM.
Grace Griffith has received more than a dozen Washington Area Music Association Awards (WAMMIEs) in the album categories of Best Overall, Contemporary, Folk, Traditional Folk and Celtic, as well as Artist Of The Year, and was a musical inspiration to “the voice of a generation” Eva Cassidy.
A trained physical therapist Grace spent her early adult days healing with her hands and her evenings pursuing her childhood passion for music with a healing voice that reached far beyond her fingertips. As Grace Griffith’s musical reputation quickly grew so did her audience, and one regular face in the crowd was that of then unknown singer Eva Cassidy. For Eva, Grace’s music became an inspiring force helping to shape her own musical path. The women became friends and, after learning of Eva’s illness, Grace phoned her record label (Blix Street) on Eva’s behalf, pleading, “We’ve got this wonderful nightingale I’m afraid we’re going to lose, may I send you a tape?” Although Eva’s life was tragically cut short in 1996, her beautiful voice went on to touch millions of listeners and the songbird received posthumous global recognition.
Meanwhile, in 1998, Grace’s own life became more complicated after the on-set of Parkinson’s Disease. Despite the challenges that the illness threw in her path Grace continued to record and in 2000 ‘Minstrel Song’ brought notice from the UK. “It is Griffith’s clear, soaring voice that dominates everything, somewhat reminiscent of Sandy Denny, but unmistakably individual. Make no mistake, this is a beautiful album, and recommended not only to Celtic fans but to all who appreciate fine music.” declared Maverick Magazine. Grace asserts that Parkinson’s causes her to sing songs in the spirit of seizing the day, reflecting an even stronger appreciation of the world around her than before, and 2003’s ‘Sands of Time’ and ‘My Life’ in 2006 received notable acclaim and Grace a further five WAMMIEs.
In 2006 Grace underwent pioneering surgery at Johns Hopkins University Hospital for the implantation of electrodes for Deep Brain Stimulation. She has benefited from the still experimental procedure and has actively created a new niche for herself as an effective speaker and educator on Parkinson’s and the role music and performing arts play for those with the disease. Over time, however, as the batteries ran down, her voice ran out. Then came a minor miracle. Although doctors could not assure her of a positive result, they suggested she might benefit from changing and upgrading the batteries (done in March, 2010), and Voila! It worked! Not perfectly, but she now has more energy and more voice.
Bill Straw, Founder, Blix Street Records, picks up the story “When Grace gave me the news, I had coincidently started compiling an album that combined a variety of Grace tracks from different sources and periods. The general idea was to illustrate what her friends and fans in the DC area, her record label, a growing number of fans around the world and yes, Eva Cassidy, already knew – namely, that Grace Griffith is one of the world’s great unsung singers. The goal was to create a “Super Album” that, much like Eva’s ‘Songbird’ album, would elevate a relatively unknown artist to her rightful place among her peers.
Sailing is indeed a “Super Album” by an extraordinary singer.
Grace Griffith will sing at the opening of the second World Parkinson Congress (September 28-October 1, 2010, in Glasgow, Scotland), and will speak at a Music & Parkinson’s Disease Workshop on the afternoon of the last day of the event.
[For more about this Congress, visit www.worldpdcongress.org/ ]
[For more Parkinson’s Disease information, visit www.pdf.org ]
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