The women of Warped: Alana Grace
(With the Vans Warped Tour coming to St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park on July 26, we're spending this week getting to know some of the women on punk's most pop-friendly summer tour. Today: pop singer-songwriter Alana Grace.)
Her story: Singing Etta James‚Äô At Last at a friend‚Äôs wedding may not sound like a great career move. But when your friends work for the Warped Tour, and Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman is in the audience, such a performance can be a very blessed occasion.
"I just treated it like a wedding," laughs singer-songwriter Alana Grace. "It was their first dance, so it was nerve-wracking as it is. I didn‚Äôt want to mess up their video. I didn‚Äôt really treat it as an audition."
But after Lyman heard ‚Äî and liked ‚Äî Grace‚Äôs music, he invited her to join the tour. It‚Äôs only the latest lucky moment in Grace‚Äôs career to date.
The daughter of a Nashville music booking agent, Grace studied musical theater at Harpeth Hall, a prestigious private girl‚Äôs school whose alumni include Amy Grant and Reese Witherspoon, and at age 14 was a finalist in the Nashville Grammy Showcase. Getting to spend so much time around industry professionals, she said, was key to her swift development as a writer (she wrote her first song, titled I Feel Like Crying, at age 13)."In Nashville, the songwriting itself is so important," she said. "It made me pay more attention to the songs themselves rather than just the artists overall."
While still a teenager, she rose to prominence with a ballad, Black Roses Red, on the soundtrack to the movie Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. And today ‚Äî get ready for a serious hard left ‚Äî Grace is the co-host of The New American Thunder, a motorcycle show on the Speed Channel that will film its second season this fall.
So to recap: Nashville child star ... turned soundtrack balladeer ... turned motorcycle expert ... turned Warped Tour performer ... yeah, sounds about right.
Wait a minute ‚Äî motorcycles? Grace is a Harley-Davidson enthusiast who drives an Iron 883 Sportster. "My dad‚Äôs been riding since I was about 4 years old," she said. For American Thunder, she‚Äôs traveled to bike shows around the country, including one at Daytona. She was planning to hit the massive annual Sturgis Rally in Montana until she landed her Warped Tour gig. Wherever she goes, bike fans seem to find her. "Most people who come here are really more interested in the music part than anything," she said. "But fans of the show, on MySpace and stuff, they always want to talk shop."
If she could spend an hour one-on-one with any musician, it would be ... Madonna. Grace said she‚Äôd like to pick the singer‚Äôs brain about self-publicity.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*