Amazing Gracie '“ our award-winning songwriter
As someone who lists Dolly Parton among her favourite artists, Gracie Falls hopes that working nine to five will not be an option in the future.
She has just been crowned Britain’s best unsigned songwriter and is hoping the award will be the springboard to a bright future on stage.
Such is the nature of the industry these days, being the best unsigned songwriter in the country doesn’t mean you can make a living from music, although the 25-year-old hopes her success will change that.
“I would love to do it full-time, songwriting and performing,” Gracie said. “But at the moment, gigs don’t bring in much money.
“But winning this award has changed my plans for next year. It will open up lots of opportunities and I am really excited.”
Gracie’s prize includes playing gigs in branches of national coffee shop chain Caffe Nero, her songs being included on their playlists, a year of mentoring from the Songwriting Academy, and a week’s songwriting retreat in Spain next summer.
“I want to learn more. I write for myself. It’s my way of getting my thoughts and feelings out and helps me to understand myself better.
“Writing for other people is very different and it is not something I have done yet.”
Highlights of 2016 included supporting Bridlington band Seafret in their homecoming gig at The Spa in February, and when she met the Free Press to discuss her success, it was the first time she had returned to the venue since being on stage.
“It was probably the biggest gig I have done and it was definitely the biggest indoor stage,” she said.
Performing on a stage which has attracted huge names from the world of music down the years came just six years since she was busking on the streets of Bridlington.
Gracie, who plays guitar and piano, moved here from Rugby at the age of 19.
She added: “I grew up doing musical theatre and I was classically trained vocally. I wrote my first song at the age of 11 and performed it with a local amateur dramatic group.
“I grew up listening to a great mix of music so that reflects in what I write. Sometimes I will come out with pop music, sometimes it is heavier. It almost always has country roots.
“But I only started performing my own songs properly when I came to Yorkshire. I busked in Scarborough, Bridlington and Hull. It’s one of the scariest things you can do and it is a lot more personal than a gig.”
Her big break came when BBC radio presenter David Burns heard her performing outside a sandwich shop in Hull and invited her to play on his show.
She received backing from the BBC Introducing scheme and in 2013 she honed her music by touring 17 American states, singing at open mic nights.
“It built my confidence massively,” she said.
And now she hopes winning the national competition will send her profile soaring.
“I entered a few songwriting competitions a few years ago so I get emails about them,” she said. “I got one through about this competition, looked at the prizes and decided to give it a go.
“It was more focussed on the song-writing than the production and the performance so it seemed quite genuine.
“I entered 10 songs online and from 1,000 entries, I was one of 72 who made it into the regional heats.”
That was held in Liverpool and Gracie beat five rivals to progress to the semi-finals in London.
There, she impressed the judges again and made it to the four-act final at The Piano Works in Farringdon.
“It was a cosy venue without being claustrophobic. It had character and it felt like a proper gig.” The judges said: “Gracie writes songs with a natural ease, and autobiographical touch. Memorable melodies, emotive music and poignant, relatable lyrics blend into a new yet familiar sound.”
Her debut album, Down But Not Defeated, was released earlier this year and she believes she has enough material to put out two or three more albums soon.
To find out more, visit www.graciefalls.com or follow her on Twitter at @GracieFalls12.