I first heard Grace Loudon sing during a sound check with a fellow live performer and was totally jaw-dropped. I knew I had to get to her next show to hear more! That show happened to be at the Mumbling Goat on February 2nd. Grace opened with Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Daddy” and I was in full agreement when an audience member typed into Nearby chat: OMG! Close your eyes and she’s doing Stevie Nicks like Stevie Nicks!
Self-confession here: I’m an opera aficionado. But if I start slinging terms like vibrato, mezzo-soprano and coloratura, you’ll click out of this blog faster than a gnat can blink. So let me say Grace’s voice has total warmth in singing lower ranges and then zooms into high ranges with confidence and complete tonal accomplishment. WOW!. Now add that hint of gravel combined with velvet and trills. AMAZING! She’s got power and control and expression that makes her performance a “must see and hear.”
Grace’s show is a mix of her own accompaniment on her acoustic guitar and singing to tracks. Her choice of songs proves to be a show-case for her vocal talent. At the Mumbling Goat, she performed material from Fleetwood Mac, Adele, Alannis Morrisette and Imagine Dragons. Her rendition of Bishop Briggs’ “Shut Your Mouth And Run Me Like A River” was powerful and emotion-packed. By request, she sang Heart’s “Dogs and Butterflies” and Bonnie Raitt’s “Something To Talk About”, my own request. I was captivated by her powerful and perfect ability to handle the range demands of each number.
Grace granted me over an hour of her time to talk about her music and experience.
Liz So while I have you here...how many people – as a guesstimate –, have said "you sound soooo much like Stevie Nicks!"
Grace: Haha - oh yes, I get that often. That vibrato gives it away almost every time.
Liz Ya think? Along with range and coloratura…
Grace: I'll take the comparison:) Could be worse!
Liz Not to be too personal, but how old were you when someone first commented "you got some great pipes there, girl!"
Grace: Aw what a nice way to put it. I won a talent show when I was 14 years old - it was my first time singing in front of people.
Liz Had you had any training or lessons prior to that talent show?
Grace: Before that it was bathroom concerts in front of the mirror.
Liz So was it your own decision to enter that contest?
Grace: Yeah. It was for high school and I had always thought I might try to find an opportunity to see if I could sing in front of people. I was in the chorus and the jazz band but only got little snippets of parts that didn't calm my curiosity. So the talent show came up and I said "I'm going to do it!" - so I sang Desperado by the Eagles. No music - just me singing.I decided then that I wanted to pursue music. Yeah, a capela. I had a blast and got a standing "O" - I was a little proud of myself dare I say?
Liz : Which instrument did you play in Jazz Band?
Grace: I started by playing the drums. I stunk at that so I switched to clarinet. Stunk at that too. I settled on the piano as I could get away with just playing chords, and sang a little backup. I play the guitar now but I only learned how to about 5 years ago and really, only so I could accompany myself in SL. I never had to learn before as in rl I always had a band to back me up.
Liz you mentioned band...how did you come to be in a band?
Grace: When I graduated high school, my first stop was Disney World. I worked there for a few years (Florida) and found myself in the Entertainment department for a time. It was my first band experience. We had a little ensemble that would play in The World Showcase at EPCOT Center. Then I got to be a part of Voices of Liberty which was an a capela group. After that, I joined a nightclub band and was pretty steady with them for a few years until I started to form my own bands. We gigged around for awhile for many years. Traveled around the country. Unfortunately, my latest band just broke up - I moved out of state, we had the pandemic, things were tough and we couldn't play out anymore. So here I am, tooling around SL for the time being, doing my thing.
Liz How long have you been performing here [in SL]?
Grace: Surprisingly to many, only about 2 years. Had to learn that guitar! And, I had to learn a slew of new songs to play on the guitar and sing to.
Liz You'd performed in front of live audiences for a while before your first SL show. What are the challenges of performing in SL?
Grace: Sound is a major issue in SL. There are a lot of tools, equipment and settings that I had to work through. Some bad sounds along the way until I finally met someone who helped me tweak everything. Even now though, I don't think it's the best it could be. And finding out what people want to hear is another big challenge. But, that comes with time I suppose.
Liz : If someone were to launch a performing virtual "career" here, what would you suggest to them as vital to know?
Grace: Oh wow, well I guess it is what I would tell someone in the real world as well. Stay humble! Do what you love to do. If it becomes a chore or a burden, re-evaluate and consider whether or not it's really something you want to pursue. As far as SL specifically though, and I can speak with some authority given my 18 years in the place, don't look to SL as your steady source of musical employment. SL is a fickle lover. Stay honest and true to who you are and start venturing outside the virtual world for success.I'm amazed at times by the immense talent I'll stumble across, with their audience of 5 and just think to myself, "this is not right!" You just never know how it's going to go. One day, 2 or 3 people tops. The next, I've got 40 - there is no way to gage it!
Liz What's the difference for you as an artist to have that "40+ attending" audience vs 4 or 5?
Grace: That's a thinker - I can have an audience of 4 or 5 and be just as content with my efforts if they give back to me. You know what I mean? A quiet audience of 40 makes it hard to enjoy myself. I like the feeback, the involvement.
Liz How do you choose the selections on your song list?
Grace: I love requests - they force me to do the songs I don't go to automatically. But, when it's up to me, I tend to stick with the ones that I like, or that I can play differently or create a mood with. Oh, and the ones that are easy to play! LOL
Liz We concluded our time with my promise to be in Grace’s audience as frequently as I could be.