Christina Perri with Emily Grace on piano pic: Greg Fiore
by Olivia Demetriades Updated on 5:31pm Monday 24th November 2014 in News
A born-and-bred Sutton musician is now performing with triple Platinum selling artist Christina Perri on her Head or Heart world tour.
Emily Grace, 27, grew up in Cheam Village and attended Nonsuch High school before being accepted into the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London to study Musical Theatre.
Miss Grace grew up surrounded by music and says her love for it stems from her mother, who was a piano teacher, and alongside singing, she plays the piano, cello, saxophone, flute and guitar.
After three years of performing in musicals throughout the UK, including Return to the Forbidden Planet, Song of Singapore and Sweet Charity Miss Grace moved to Los Angeles and, in 2008, Hollywood Records signed her Ballas Hough Band.
A keyboard player and vocalist on the Head or Heart tour, Miss Grace has been performing with Christina Perri’s band in America for the past year, making appearances on television shows, such as Late Show with David Letterman, Seth Meyers, So You Think You Can Dance and Ellen.
She said: "I love being on stage and singing in front of people.
"I do everything I love doing without any pressure because it’s not just me up there."
As part of the Head or Heart tour, Miss Grace also featured in the opening for OneRepublic on their Native tour earlier this year, and has recently finished touring with Demi Lovato.
The Nonsuch alumni said: "One of the best moments was when I was performing with Demi Lovato, opening for the Jonas Brothers, at Wembley Arena to an audience of 20,000 people.
"It was my first show in the UK and when I got off stage I just cried because I was so overwhelmed."
Even though Miss Grace has travelled across the globe, she is a Cheam girl at heart, and still considers it to be her home.
She is able to return to England at least once a year and visits her parents who now live in North Cheam.
Christina Perri’s Head or Hearts Tour, kicks off at KOKO, Camden High St, tonight.
Emily Grace Opens Up About Self-Harm; It's Stigma; And The Inspiration That Helped Her Overcome Both.
Featured on www.illuminateinspiration.org
When I hear the name "Emily Grace" I instantly feel inspired. It's not just because I have met her and we have become friends, it is because she literally inspires me with every dream she catches.
She was born in The UK and moved to the United States in order to pursue her dream of being a musician. She released a CD with the first band she was in "The Ballas Hough Band" before they separated. After the band's separation, she toured with The All American Rejects, Demi Lovato, Victoria Justice, and is currently touring with Christina Perri as her keyboardist and background vocalist. She now resides in Los Angeles, unless she's on a bus or airplane.
She knew at a young age that she loved music, and even studied at some of England's most prestigious musical schools.
She's not quite 28, but she's been on World Tours, Television Shows, and performed at some of the World's most impressive venues, but Emily Grace is never content to stop dreaming. She always has a dream to chase and with her determination, she's likely to catch it.
Not all of her life story is as flashy and glamorous as the most recent chapters are. She has had her struggles and her perfect imperfections that make her just who she's supposed to be.
Sometimes the past is a hard place to revisit, but Emily was beyond generous to share some of her early chapters of struggle and pain with me, and all of you here at Illuminate Inspiration, in order to inspire others to press forward and to shake away the stigma that this world places upon the flaws we all have.
Here is a look at what "inspiration" means to Emily and how it played a role in helping her defeat the stigma in her past.
Illuminate Inspiration: What does the word "Inspire" mean to you?
Emily Grace: To me, “inspire” means to lift someone up. To encourage them, to show them something new. To open a new door for them or show them a new path.
Who inspires you? How?
There are so many people in my life who inspire me, I don’t know how to pick just one! I make a point to surround myself with inspiring people. I’m not someone who has a ton of friends, I’ve always been happier with a small amount of wonderful people in my life. My parents have always inspired me when it comes to relationships - they have 38 years of marriage under their belts. The incredible love of my life, Andy, inspires me every day to be more loving, more vulnerable. My roommate and bestie, Kelsea, inspires me to find the fun in life, to play more, to make friends. My wonderful boss and friend, Christina, inspires me to continue to look within, to be self aware, to read and learn and grow.
If you could change only ONE thing in this world...what would it be?
If I could change one thing in this world… that’s a tough question. I would teach everybody acceptance. That way, we could all embrace our differences and our struggles, knowing that the whole world had our backs.
What is an issue that you have struggled with in the past or even currently?
Throughout my teens and even into my very early twenties, I struggled with self harm. It was something I turned to when I didn’t know any other way to process my extreme emotions.
How did you get past this/ or deal with this?
It took a long time and a lot of therapy to recover from self harm. I had to learn new methods of coping with anger, stress or unhappiness. Most importantly, I had to learn that I was worth fighting for. It’s difficult to recover from anything when you don’t believe that you are worthy of the effort.
Think about your answer to 4. Is there a word involved that holds a "stigma" or a opposing view? How did that stigma effect you?
There’s a huge stigma surrounding self harm, and when I was young (wow that makes me sound old!) I believe there was even more stigma than there is today. It wasn’t something that people talked about, I hadn’t even heard of other people doing it. To this day, I don’t even know where I got the idea from, and I was convinced for a long time that I was the only person in the world doing this ridiculous thing.
Was there anyone in your life (friend, family or celebrity) that helped you through this...inspired you to push forward?
My PE teacher and gymnastics team coach, Miss Hinton, was my angel throughout my teens. She never judged me, no matter what I told her. She talked to me, she let me talk to her. She made me feel like I was important and that she really cared about me. Miss Hinton was the first person I really opened up to, I went to her with everything, and she never seemed to get overwhelmed or annoyed. She’s someone I have always looked up to, she’s the person I want to be. Unfortunately, she passed away very suddenly in her early 30s, a few years after I had left school, and I never truly got the chance to let her know how much she changed my life. I can only hope that she knows now how much she inspired me, how often I think of her and work to be as open, supportive and caring as she was.
Was there anyone in your life that practiced that stigma or treated you differently because of this issue? How did you handle that?
The first time I told a friend, she told the rest of the class, and by the end of the day everyone was calling me a drama queen. Those words still haunt me. I think that’s one of the cruelest things you can say to someone, “you’re being a drama queen.”. It immediately invalidates everything that person is feeling. Some people thought I was doing it for the attention, some people thought I was trying to commit suicide, some people thought I just thought it was “cool”. I definitely didn’t handle this very well and retreated further into myself, not trusting anyone.
If you had the opportunity to go back and emerge without this issue...would you?
Absolutely not! I think every situation that is thrown our way in life has a purpose. There is something to be learned from each experience, something to be gained. Even if you don’t see it at the time, you will have an “aha!” moment later in life. For me, I know I went through those tough times to prepare me for a life of helping people through their own tough times.
What is your "go-to" advice for anyone struggling with a similar issue?
My go-to advice is absolutely, 100%, get help. Tell someone you trust, and get yourself to a therapist. I believe I could never have come through any of my rough patches without the help of talk therapy. It’s the most healing thing you can do.
If you could write a letter to yourself while you were dealing with that issue from your perspective NOW...what would you say?
Dear Little Emily, EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE WONDERFUL! Keep fighting hard, be strong, never give up. One day you’ll see that you were worth the struggle and this will all mean something great, I promise. Trust in your angels, and you can be an angel for someone too one day. I love you, kiddo.
What is something you can say to destroy the "stigma" of the issue you faced?
Self harm affects people from all walks of life, in all different ways. It’s an exterior symptom of an interior problem. Look closer before you judge someone.
What motto or mottos do you practice daily?
To this day, all these years later, I still have to focus on one mantra: I am beautiful. I still find it easy to get down on myself, whether physically or mentally, and often I have to take a step back and remind myself that I am beautiful. That big zit on my chin doesn’t make me less beautiful, any stress and anxiety I’m carrying doesn’t make me less beautiful, a few pounds here and there doesn’t define my beauty and shouldn’t define my self-esteem. Even though I work hard to stay mentally strong, I’m definitely someone who has a tendency to let thoughts and feelings spiral out of control if I don’t catch myself in time. Thankfully, I’m much better at seeing and stopping the spiral now, but it takes work, every day. “I am beautiful”.
How do you hope to inspire others?
I want to inspire other people to love, trust and be true to themselves.
What is one thing you want people to remember about you?
If one person remembers something kind I did for them, something that made a change in their life for the better, then I’m happy. If I can be someone else’s “Miss Hinton”, then I have achieved everything and more that I could wish for in this life.
Emily Grace is always doing things to change the world and inspire others. Make sure to follow her on her various social media outlets in order to find out what she's up to and ways to help.
Singer-Keyboardist Emily Grace shares her insights on building a singing career.
Emily Grace is a touring singer and keyboardist who has worked with Demi Lovato, Victoria Justice and Christina Perri.
Born in Britain, she studied classical voice and piano before moving to LA after signing her first record deal – she shares with VoiceCouncil her top insights on a vocal career.
Biggest challenge to breaking out and sharing your music with new people.
Not getting sucked into the “Hollywood Scene”. You hear horror stories, and they’re all true, but if you trust your gut and stay grounded, you’ll survive.
Something’s that’s worked for you in reaching a larger audience.
Not being afraid to be real. With such a focus on social media nowadays, people want to get to know you, flaws and all.
A performance FAIL.
There’s been multiple stumbles, forgotten lyrics, cracked notes, but the most memorable fail was a performance I did as a guest with my friend’s band. I walk out mid song and the mic doesn’t work, a tech runs out on stage with another mic, which doesn’t work. Then another, which doesn’t work. I sang my little heart out for 3 minutes and no one heard a word.
Emily Grace with Demi Lovato 2010
A performance SUCCESS – and why…
Singing with Demi Lovato at Wembley Arena. It was so epic to play a hometown show at such an iconic venue. I don’t remember much of the show as I was so nervous, but the minute I got off stage I cried for a good ten minutes because I was so overwhelmed.
A musical lesson you’ve learned singing Backing Vocals
Background singing definitely helps fine tune your ear. It’s great for learning to use your voice in different ways to blend with different artists, creating interesting harmonies and keeping your pitch on point.
Does your Backing work help you with your solo career – how?
Be a sponge. You get to see behind the scenes of tours, album recordings, management and labels etc, so if you keep your ears open you can be prepared if and when those things start happening for you.
Emily on Keys with Christina Perri 2014
A few ingredients of a memorable vocal performance?
Going into the show with a positive attitude, a solid warm up under your belt and a well rested voice. An outdoor show in the Texas summer humidity doesn’t hurt either!
Most important lesson you have learned about social media.
You have the power to influence young fans, so be mindful about what you say.
Most important lesson you have learned about vocal health?
No yelling! I spend a ridiculous amount of time on airplanes, which are much louder than you realize, so no talking while you fly. Avoid loud bars, and keep your mouth closed on roller coasters!
A question you wished we asked you – and your answer
Favourite post show tour bus snack – Babybel cheese and soy milk with Strawberry nesquik powder. Which is what I’m eating as I type this…