Lovers Never Lie: Singer Grace Garland Goes Solo
by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Entertainment Contributor
Sunday Mar 5, 2006
Singer Grace Garland has shared the stage with musicians ranging from Julie Gold to John Mayer, has starred in films like hip-hop classic "Juice," has lent her voice to TV commercials and cartoons, and has even parodied public figures like Tina Turner. Now, this "triple threat" strikes out on her own with her album, Lovers Never Lie (In Bed). We spoke with this talented New Yorker about her first solo release.
EDGE: You have acted, emceed, done parodies and sungnow you are releasing your first solo album. How did this project come about?
Garland: Darren, my co-writer and producer, needed a singer for something else he was working on, and someone suggested he use me as a vocalist. I met him, and was right for the vocals for that project. But in the process I had some lyrics Id written on the way in that I showed him, and he had some tracks he didnt have lyrics for. They became "What Doesnt Kill You" makes you stronger.
EDGE: Naming your musical backup The G-Spot Band shows you have a sense of humor, but you also sing the blues. Why is it important to balance these sides in life?
Garland: Because in life, if you dont find the humor even in things that hurt you or make you angry or sad, you will completely and totally fall apart. Even in the face of what seems like the worse day of your life, if you see things that are silly, you have to laugh about them. Like you know you have a good friend because if youre crying, a friend will say, "Girl, you know he wasnt right for you." Everything in life has to balance out.
EDGE: This humor also flows through your lyrics, like in What Doesnt Kill You, where you talk about sitting around all day watching Pay Per View movies. What is your favorite example in this album where the blues smack back with humor?
Garland: I love that song, too: Convincing yourself youre not waiting for the call, but you are. [For other humor] maybe the title track, Lovers Never Lie (In Bed), because we all as loving, sensitive, affectionate beings would like to think we are the special person in that persons life 24/7. We know its not quite that way, but you realize that the one moment that it doesnt matter if its a lie is when youre making love.
EDGE: Tell me more about the story behind Lovers Never Lie (In Bed).
Garland: I do a lot of my writing on the subway because I live in New York. One day I was watching a couple in front of me, and she was obviously a little bit pissed off at him. But hes rapping hard, "Oh, baby, its only you," and shes melting, wanting to believe him. You could see the moment that even if she knew it was a lie, she didnt care. That rhythm of the train became the music for Lovers Never Lie.
EDGE: You were also co-producer, writer and performer of the album. What was this like?
Garland: I co-produced Why Not Me?, Simple and Lovers Never Lie (In Bed). Its interesting because as a writer you hear it a certain way in your head. And sometimes you surrender what you hear
.You know, Darren and I may work on a song and it sounds one way, but I come back after his tweaking and it is different than how I heard it, but its better. Some songs though, you know there is no other way it can be. Lovers Never Lie (In Bed) was like that. I wanted that jazz thread to go through it, and to be able to capture that when I perform it with my guitar player. Its like in Why Not Me?; I wanted it to be that raw emotion there, because basically [in that song] Im a begging bitch, saying, "Youre with someone, so I hope you dont see me." But theres always someone in your life, at work or in the neighborhood that you think, "If I could just be the special person in their life, they would have the best life."
Because in life, if you dont find the humor even in things that hurt you or make you angry or sad, you will completely and totally fall apart.EDGE: Some of your songs like Time and Thief in the Night have a real edge of Joan Armatrading in them, very blues meets folk. I was wondering who your early influences were?
Garland: Well, first and foremost is jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson, without a doubt. Other people filter in, like Madonna, because shes so honest and openshe doesnt care. And of course all of the jazz singers, but also early Toni Braxton, even male artists, old-school like Lou Rawls, who just have that edge to them, that bluesy gut.
EDGE: Is the desertion story in Thief in the Night your own?
Garland: No; my best friend Gloria allowed me to use her story because that actually happened to her. She called me to tell me what happened, and the writer in you sees the words going around in your head, and so I said, "You know Ive written something down about this, but I wont use it." She said, "Girl, you better go and write me a song." She loved it, and she played it for her girls, and it helped them to talk about what was going on.
EDGE: You sing about New York; tell me what life in NYC means to you.
Garland: I live in Manhattan; its my home now. I grew up as an Army brat, and traveled all around. But New York ultimately became my home. There is no place like New Yorkthe people, the attitude, the ability to survive no matter what happens
we dealt with the transit strike, 9/11. Not that things dont happen in other places, but there is no place like New York. That particular song [New York (Every Day is Sweeter)] I wrote after 9/11, about the whole thing of getting back to normal. This album is the culmination of all things. Some songs I was singing for the demo, thinking maybe Madonna will do this one, or someone else will do that one. But then Darren said, "No, you should do them." So I said, "Definitely!"
EDGE: Will you be performing these songs in the New York area soon? Where can your fans see you do your thing?
Garland: The next thing definitely is the tour, which were in the process of setting up. In April I will be in the Boston area at the Gay Expo. So Ill be there performing on Sunday, and I am always performing in and around New York City.
For complete info, visit www.gracegarland.com
Winnie McCroy is a freelance writer based in New York City. She has written for publications including The Advocate, Girlfriends Magazine, and GO NYC.