It’s almost impossible to think about the Charlottesville we know and love without thinking of the artists who make it what it is. Dave Matthews Band may be the quintessential claim to fame, but there are hundreds of artists—musicians, painters, songwriters, poets, dancers, thespians— who don’t get the same spotlight others might.
Think about it. Most of us know a VG or someone in a cover band, but for every acappella star there’s someone who has never posted a YouTube video or had a hundred girls at a bar scream their name. Don’t get me wrong. I am a 100% admitted Hullabafangirl (if you know of any support groups hit me up), and Natalie would probably skip a final to see the Smiling Islanders perform at Crozet (especially if that final was in Econ. Moment of silence for what happened last semester). But what happens beyond that spotlight?
That’s where Natalie and I come in. Every other week, we’ll be picking someone to feature for the Artist Series, to bring a little love to everyone who you know who’s creating everything we love about UVA and about Charlottesville.
First up: Grant Frazier.
Grant’s been playing music since he could walk. He remembers being 2 or 3— side note: does anyone actually remember this age?— and walking around the grocery store singing the tune to the National Anthem. I also do this sometimes in the grocery store, but being 20 makes it way, way less cute. And I never get an audience the way Grant apparently did. For him, it’s all come naturally: “Music has kind of chosen me in a way… It’s all I ever think about and it’s what makes me excited to wake up every day in the morning.” As a kindergartener, Grant and his brother took violin lessons and learned to play by ear— meanwhile, I was somewhere off in Vienna, VA with a plastic bead stuck up my nose. But again, there’s a reason we picked Grant for our first video.
“After a couple of years, we had to stop because of some difficult circumstances,” he says, “but the music never stopped. It’s always been inside of me.” After starting to write poetry in middle school, Grant’s love of music snowballed, as he learned to play guitar and piano and eventually, to write his own songs. But even as Grant became more public about making music, some of his peers were held back from seeing him as a true musician. Grant admits that it’s likely because he doesn’t exactly look like a stereotypical musician. As two pretty tiny women, I’m pretty surprised Nat and I didn’t notice Grant’s stature— with each of us perched on a stool throughout his performance at Grit Cafe on Elliewood Avenue, he seems like a normal, approachable guy. But just as his 6’6” stance reveals itself when he stands, the second he plucks the first note on his Taylor Guitar, it’s apparent that this kid has music in his blood. “I think to me that’s the best part of the whole process…just seeing people’s faces and reactions when I open my mouth and start singing.”
For many like Grant, music has brought a way of expressing his emotions and changing views of the world when words don’t seem like enough. “It gives me the greatest joy knowing I can bring the same feelings [I have] inside when I sing to others around me who are there to listen.”
To me and Nat, the thought of leaving behind Charlottesville is terrifying. I started writing this from HackCville on a Thursday night after finals, while Nat had a panic attack next to me about the thought of leaving for break. Now we’re both back, and yesterday had a discussion about how this semester is “almost over” and graduation is “really sneaking up on me.” Grant, who’s only a first year, already knows his heart will also be in Charlottesville long after he leaves. “I just want to keep writing and producing more albums and EP’s… and become an established artist in the Charlottesville and UVA community. I’m not really sure where this is going to take me, but I’m excited.”
So sit back and soak in the musical magic of Grant Frazier, along with his commentary about what inspired each of these songs. You’re off to the start of a great semester! You could maybe get away with pretending it’s still syllabus week for another week! This world and the people in it are doing beautiful things. Turn up those free earbuds you got with your smartphone and prepare to literally melt at these three original songs. God knows, Natalie and I did.
*Bonus: Listen closely for our soccer-mom level cheers (and quiet exclamations of “shiiiiiiiiiit”) at the end of “Only One”.
“I wrote this song pretty close to leaving for college and knowing that change was going to be coming soon and relationships would be challenged by the distance that came with that. It’s sort of a combination of optimism and hope, but also of fear at the same time…knowing what we’ll have to go through is going to be hard but having faith that at the end of all of this, nothing will have changed between us… that we’ll find each other on the other side.”
“This song is also about the relationship I have with my girlfriend and how that changed when we went to school. But I think both of them can apply to so many relationships and situations, beyond just high schoolers leaving for college. Distance can separate people– not just physical but mental or spiritual– but we both knew that it wasn’t going to break us. Knowing that there’s no reason to fear or worry is probably the most important part of that. I wanted her to know that no matter what I have her and she has me through all this.”
“This song is kind of the stereotypical break up song. I knew someone who was going through a tough time that was similar to what’s going on in this song– most people have gone through a breakup. So even though it isn’t a personal story I’m telling in the song, for this one I really wanted to write a piece that was emotional and captured what so many people have probably felt during that process.”
We’re probably best described as those two creepy girls who are a little too open about how much we love things/people/dancing at Trin. Best friends and soul people. Co-parents to Tuna Perdue, adolescent Leopard Gecko. Confused about life but usually okay with that. Tragically both heterosexual.
Things that made us smile this week:
Shakey Graves. Dumplings. Bold Rock. Breakfast for Dinner. Grant Frazier.
Bailey and Natalie