Get to know the rising star who is taking the soul-pop scene by storm with her stellar talents and captivating lyricism…

Grace Carter

Grace Carter

Grace Carter, the sensational UK artist, has emerged as one of the most remarkable voices currently in the UK music scene. With her captivating vocals and deeply heartfelt lyrics, she has enchanted audiences worldwide.

Inspired by the likes of Alicia Keys, Nina Simone and Adele, Grace is sewing her own sound into the tapestry of soul-pop history. With her ability to shed light on topics that deserve to be spotlighted endlessly and her gut-wrenchingly honest lyrics, Grace is bound to undeniable success within her already beaming career. Fresh off the success of her highly praised singles “Pick Your Tears Up and “Bloodwar”, Grace shares her latest creation “Riot” and teases her next project “A Little Lost, A Little Found”.

Grace is an outstanding singer, songwriter and human. Her story is one to be told and her message is one to be shared. We sat down with her to discuss teenage years, falling into the wrong hands as an artist and her recent sold-out UK tour…

Watch the stunning visuals for “Riot”…

Read the exclusive interview…

Hey Grace! We’d love to hear about your early years of music. How did your music journey begin? What have been some of the biggest struggles and triumphs?
God, it’s been a journey. Music has always been a part of my life. Especially in terms of being a fan of music. My mum has no musical talent at all – no offence to the woman, love her, but she has none. However, she’s always had great taste in music. The radio was always on in the house, from the moment I woke up in the morning, there was always music playing. I grew up in that environment and then I heard Nina Simone for the first time when I was about seven or eight. When I discovered her, at the time I had a lot of pent-up emotions, I had experienced a lot of things, and I felt a lot of things. So when I first heard her voice, it brought me to tears. 

I think that moment for me was when I realised there was so much power in music, so much peace to be found in listening to music. From then onwards, I created my own journey with it and discovered Alicia Keys. I fell in love with her because she’s like me. She’s another brown woman who’s making this music and it’s emotional and I can see myself in it. 

At this point, I still didn’t have the idea of making my own music. It was just that I was finding artists that made me feel less alone, especially growing up a mixed-raced person in a very white world. I would gravitate towards these certain artists talking about these certain things, and their experiences, and I resonated with that. And then when I got to the age of about eleven or twelve, I was hormonal as fuck. I was just angry at the world.

My mum had met her partner and he was a musician. He grew up with a single mum as well, so he was like “Oh when I was your age, I struggled too and found music as a way of processing my emotions.” He gave me a guitar and said “See what you can do with this!”

I started to write some songs. I took all the things that I’d learnt from artists such as Nina Simone and Alicia Keys, and then sat in my room and tried to channel those feelings that I felt when listening to them. It was obviously what I needed at that point in my life. 

Music has always been a very cathartic thing for me. It’s never really been this intentional thing of like, “I want to be a pop star” and I still don’t even feel that. I just love making music, and I love putting my feelings and my thoughts into the music that I’m making. In the least cliche-sounding way, it is a very therapeutic thing for me.

So Alicia Keys was a huge inspiration to you, were there any other artists who you gravitated towards?
Yeah, Alicia Keys massively, I think as a mixed-race woman and being a young girl growing up and figuring out who I was, my identity, I saw so much of myself in her. And then Adele, as I got older.

Just women who sing about their emotions, I will always gravitate towards. I am so grateful for when I was younger, my Mum empowered me to speak about how I felt and taught me there was so much power in being vulnerable. So yeah, artists that aren’t afraid of wearing their hearts on their sleeves. 

Young women constantly have their hearts on their sleeves. Music is a creative thing for me but it’s also my career. There is a business element to it, and when you are young and coming into it, you are quite naive. You’re writing songs about your life and your traumas, and then you put it out into the world and unfortunately, if you are put into the wrong hands, you can be mistreated.

I’ve experienced moments of being in the wrong hands, my life, my feelings and my trauma being exploited in a way that wasn’t how I wanted.

Would you go into more detail about how you found yourself in the wrong hands? Changing management etc?… 
I think everything happens for a reason and actually, there have been traumatic things that have happened in my career. But by the same token, I think I wouldn’t change it because I feel like it’s allowed me to establish what my purpose is and why I do this. I was around 17/18 years old when I first came into the industry. I released my first song the day before my 20th birthday. 

I was young but I’ve always been quite an old soul and thought I knew everything. I didn’t know anything at all. I was in situations working with so many different people and working with the wrong people. I think a lot of artists feel that way, because when you’re young and these people are telling you everything you want to hear, you end up in these contracts that just don’t work for you. 

The thing that I’m so grateful for is I have so many friends that have been in the same situation and they then quit music or, have not made any more music or lost themselves completely. I’ve been through moments of feeling very, very lost. I’ve been through so much behind the scenes and at the end of the day, I’m still here. I wouldn’t change it for the world, this is what I want to do. 

That’s a testament to my Mum because she’s just always empowered me to block everything else out. You’re in charge of your own shit, like this is a shit situation right now, but you can get out of it and focus on why you do it. Not the noise around it. 

Your Mum sounds like a queen!
I don’t know what I would do without her. Being a young woman and having your career dictated to you by older men, white men most of the time, is a challenge for sure. It’s like, how can you tell me who I am when you’ve never walked a day in my shoes? 

Do you think the industry is changing?
I like to think there’s change happening, for sure, I think even in the fact of, like me and my friends who are other artists, we talk about things that probably when I first started like we’d never talk about. We empower each other in a way that we never used to because, especially as women of colour. We would be put on lists with Jorja Smith, Mahalia, Mabel, and Celeste but the only thing in common between us was the colour of our skin. There was just such a lack of imagination in terms of putting artists in their own lane. 

I think there’s a long, long way to go. I don’t think there are many women at the top. I don’t think there are many women of colour at the top. I don’t think there are many people of colour at the top at all! And I think until we have that, it’s going to be hard for cis white males at the top of record labels to understand what’s going on in the world when they haven’t ever experienced it. 

I think there’s also a fear with artists to talk about these things because I’ve caught myself at times where there’s been messed up things happening and I can’t speak about it because I would be biting off the hand that feeds me. You feel a lot of the time that you should be so grateful that you’re in this situation and you shouldn’t talk about it. You’re told that people would die to be in your position, so you shouldn’t talk about what goes on behind closed doors. 

I feel like artists are more empowered to speak out and a lot more artists are independent now, they’re taking control of their own careers. For me, that’s the most exciting part of it, when I was 14 years old, everyone was like, “You need to sign a record deal. You need to do this.” And you know what, it didn’t work for me! Now I’m not in those hands, I feel so much more empowered by the situation that I’m in. I’m in charge of my own thing and that’s the most important thing.

It’s music to my ears that you are in better hands! Would you say you have had your pinch-me moment yet?
I’m always striving for more, so it’s hard. It’s one of my good traits but also probably one of my worst. I do really struggle to exist in the moment. But I think the tour that I just did, has been a massive pinch-me moment.

I got pulled off of tour because of COVID in 2020, I hadn’t really done any shows since. I wasn’t able to release music for a while, and that kind of made things tricky. I just felt really out of the loop for three years. It was crazy, I was an artist, writing all this music and I couldn’t perform it. I was putting it out there, but it only existed online.

I’ve seen the numbers online and everything, but when you see them in front of you, the people – they’ll never realise how important they are to me and like, and they’re talking to me as if I’m really important to them… it’s just amazing. Real human interaction. 

Congratulations on your super successful tour. What was tour life like?
It was definitely an adjustment. I used to do it 3-4 times a year, so I hadn’t done it in so long. It was with the best group of people. My whole team now is just a completely different setup from how it used to be. I remember when I was younger, I would just be away from home all the time, and I wouldn’t see my Mum for months and it felt isolating and lonely. 

This time around I realised that it is about the people that you have around you. If you have the right people around you, you can have the best time. I know that if I’m tired, scared, or losing my voice that everyone’s just going to leave me alone and I can just chill. Or if I’m in a really good mood, or if someone else is in a really good mood, we can just all have that moment together. It felt like we were on a school trip for two weeks. We were doing shows and having fun on stage and not worrying about a thing.

This tour was about knowing that if anything happened on stage that my band would have my back. My band has two brothers too, which is super cool because I felt a part of their bond. It felt like a big family. Just the best experience ever. 

Do you have a pre-show routine?
I feel like I go quite quiet before I go on stage. I wouldn’t say standoffish, but I’m just in my bubble. I warm up, probably for not long enough. Drink some tea, hang out with my band… I always feel like I’m gonna forget all the words, so I’ll be walking to the stage with my tour manager and I’ll be like, “Wait, wait, wait.” And get my phone out and go on my Google Docs and go through every song.

What is your opinion of the relationship between the music industry and social media?
I think it’s a pretty amazing tool if it works for you. And I think there’s a lot of music that has done well off of TikTok, but we don’t know yet how long that lasts, and the overall longevity of it all.

I think for me as an artist, I surround myself with, quite deep and personal music, so I find it quite hard to almost trivialise it for a 32-second video on TikTok. I don’t spend so much time writing these songs about things that are truly important to me for TikTok to be the end goal. 

There are artists I know that exist on TikTok and have these amazing moments, but there are also people that are seemingly doing well but can’t go on tour or sell tickets. I think there’s a lot of pressure on artists right now that are being told TikTok is everything. I think we have to get back to the root of how music connects with people and how you can create moments.

You’ve been dropping some beautiful new music. “Pick Up Your Tears”, “Bloodwar” and “Riot” most recently. What is the story behind “Riot”? What do you want your listeners to take away from it when they stream it?
Thank you. The thing with Riot for me is that the song is completely not about me. A lot of my music has been about my emotions, but it’s about something that is super, super important to me and something that I feel that as an artist, I need to talk about the song every night. It hit the nail on the head of like how I felt about the record.

When I have been in situations where I’ve been forced to question if I want to do this anymore, which if I’m being honest, I’ve been to that place a lot before. But through that, I’ve also really had to establish, how I want my voice to be heard, how I want to be talked about, and what my message is – what I want to leave after I’ve left. “Riot” is a song that one of my really good friends wrote, Fabian, she’s an amazing songwriter. 

She started writing it in 2014 about Eric Garner and there was a recorded version of it. But nothing had ever really happened with it. There were a couple of artists that were going to sing it.

Then in 2020, when George Floyd was murdered, I got sent the song. I’ve written 100% of everything that I’ve ever released, I’d never taken on a song before. I always said to myself though, if that ever were to happen, I would have to be reduced to tears. It would have to be a no-brainer. She sent it to me and I was ultimately just not shocked. That’s the thing with “Riot”, and what it’s about. I’m still not shocked. It comes from a place of feeling tired by the fact that we’re still having the conversation of having to stand up for Black people, and minorities. We’re still having to fight against injustice. It’s a conversation that’s been going on for so long. It’s exhausting. 

When I first heard it, I thought, “This is crazy that this song was written in 2014, and it’s 2020 now and every single lyric pretty much was still so relevant – therefore the song needed to be heard.”

“Riot” is a song about injustice, but also it’s not a song about physically going out and rioting and setting shit on fire. That’s not the message I want the song to give. It’s that emotional riot you feel when you witness something, or you experience something that is not fair, when that fire inside of you starts, you just want to stand up for what you believe in.

As an artist, I want to stand up for what I believe in, and I would not feel content singing songs about things that didn’t matter to me. Injustice and justice is something that is super important to me as a person of colour. At the same time, I was nervous about releasing the song because I’m very aware as I’m a mixed-race girl, I don’t know what it’s like to be a dark-skinned Black man in America. But what I do know is, when I see that happen and when I’ve experienced things in my own life, that feeling that I get inside and the way that I want to stand up and show up, that’s the reason why I’ve put the song out. 

There are a lot of people that have been walking through the world with their eyes closed and I think it’s now time that we all open our eyes a bit more and speak about these things, stand up for ourselves, for other people and ultimately – justice. 

A personal favourite of mine as well is “Blood War” – I’d love to know the process behind that track also.
“Blood War” is a song that I wrote when I was 17 years old. I wrote it as a letter originally, and then I never sent a letter. It was written to my Dad. I turned it into a song, and it’s just a letter of like, “Why weren’t you in my life?” 

I got a lot of closure from writing that song. It’s interesting because my first project, “Why her not me”, was very much centred around my childhood and my father being absent. But I never released “Blood War”, because I thought people would think, “Oh she hasn’t moved on from her Dad blah, blah, blah…” Then I thought, it was a huge part of my life, and I definitely have, I’m a woman now – I’m chilling. But also, that’s a massive part of the I was bought up and who I am today. I never want to ignore that. 

There are probably going to be loads of projects in the future that I made that will always reference that time. That was my first ever example of heartbreak and a relationship that broke down, therefore that dictates how I navigate the rest of my life. It’s a song I really love and I’ve always loved it, it just felt right to have it out in the world

I have to talk to you about fashion. You have an amazing sense of style. What is your go-to performance outfit?
My go-to for the stage is always a two-piece situation, just because I have to put my pack on something. Whenever I wear a dress, it’s like a disaster waiting to happen because I literally can’t reach my pack. I’ll often just wear a bra because it gets so hot on stage.

It’s so interesting, my Mum has always been into style, not fashion, but style. She’d say, “Grace, you need to have a sense of style, fashion comes and goes, but you need to have your sense of style.” That’s a lot more powerful to me.

I feel like I’m growing into myself at the moment. I’m just experimenting with new things, trying new things, new silhouettes and just having fun with fashion. For a long time, I was quite scared to try new things. Being a creative person in general, it’s so fun to put my creativity into what I’m wearing.

Do you have any notable brands you’re loving at the moment?
There are so many. I love 16 Arlington and Talia Byre. I love Talia so much. I think it’s just so flattering, she just makes stuff beautifully for the woman’s body. 

I love new designers, young designers that are up and coming. I think that’s so exciting because I’m also in in the grand scheme of things a newer artist. It’s nice to grow with someone like that.

What is the rest of 2023 looking like? What are you working on? What are you most excited about? 
A project coming out in the next few days called “A Little Lost. A little found.” It’s about everything. Whether that be identity or relationships, my career, all these different things.

It’s very subjective, people can take it and put it into their own lives. “Riots” on there, which is really important to me. There’s a song called “Hope” on there, which is the last track on the project. It touches on that feeling of, despite all these things that have happened and all this shit that I’ve been through, I still found hope. And I’m still searching for hope and finding hope!

I just want to be consistent now. I want to have as much music out as possible and not overthink anything. I think I’m the type of artist that will make a whole project, and then scrap it ten times over. So my new mindset is just “right, do not overthink it. Put it out. Move on.”