State of Grace
She's the heart of badass country in Detroit
Published: February 22, 2012
Katie Grace plays Friday at 10:20 p.m. at Kelly's Bar with Heartbreak Dallas & the Unfaithfuls, Patrick Davy & the Ghosts and Doop & the Inside Outlaws.
Singer Katie Grace is a self-proclaimed Catholic schoolgirl gone bad. Behind those youthful angelic looks and big voice festers the soul of an outlaw, a bluegrass troubadour and a beer-swilling hell raiser. This woman has tapped into the blood vein that fed young Merle Haggard and Tony Joe White, and she brings on that kind of spirit. Grace paid her dues in all-girl bluegrass band the Syreens, the rootsy Salt Miners and Shotgun Wedding, a country-ish band with Eddie Baranek from the Sights. Then came Doop & the Inside Outlaws.
Grace recently released her debut album Best Bad Girl, which is suddenly getting mad love, and for good reason. Grace has a command that's inescapable, and she's an original, and that isn't hollow praise.
We spoke to Grace to find out what we should expect at Hamtramck's Blowout.
Metro Times: So it's fair to say you've emerged from the same scene-pool that gave us Doop & the Inside Outlaws, Pat V and Whitey Morgan. Is that where you see yourself — as one of Detroit's alt-country brigade?
Katie Grace: For sure, that's where I see myself.
MT: Your sound?
Grace: Alt-country. [laughs] Roots-rock based. The songs are true stories and they come from an honest place. Plus, you've got fun party songs. I have plenty of the serious songs like "Last Goodbye." To me, they are genuine. I write in the singer-songwriter style of telling stories.
MT: Your influences?
Grace: Honestly, my influences with songwriting come through conversations with people. That's how I get inspired — just talking to people. Everybody has their story. It's funny how people come from different backgrounds and yet we all have things in common. If I can touch one person with a song and have them say, "Dude, I totally know where you're coming from," that for me is worth it.
MT: How long have you been playing?
Grace: I've been playing bass in bands around town for 10 years now. I've switched over to the solo thing in the past year or so.
MT: You used to play bass and sing with Doop & the Inside Outlaws. Do you still do that?
Grace: It's been two and a half years or something that I've been an Inside Outlaw. I'm going to play a couple more shows with him and then I'm going to branch out on my own. I'll still be part of the Inside Outlaws songwriting collective, but as a player I want to branch out and get my own band.
MT: What can we expect from your Blowout set this year?
Grace: My CD is out now, which is exciting. This will be my first Blowout as a solo artist with a debut album. The album is called Best Bad Girl.
MT: What's next?
Grace: I plan on touring regionally. I want to play lots of shows and push this album. Get the word on the street.
MT: Here's a question from fellow Blowout band Bad Party: Isn't country music too pretty to make in Detroit?
Grace: No way. Country music is best when it is raw and gritty. Just like the city.
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