Cathy feels her life has been fun, full, adventurous, and successful as a performer and songwriter. She is blessed with bountiful vocal talent, innate fearlessness, and a fierce desire to entertain. These qualities have kept Cathy’s sound captivating, notwithstanding her commitment to stay true to her gifts and ideologies. You can follow Cathy under the name NYCsubwaygirl on facebook and twitter.
Though Cathy grew up in Connecticut and dwells in the Northeast, her music has pervaded the walls of multitude environments: a Donald Trump Atlantic City gig, the Paris Opera where she sang for the Hermes/Rostropovich wedding, a performance in Morocco with a 14 piece band, Key West (where she lived for many years), France (where she also lived for a time), Brazil, England, and Wales, to name a few. Despite her efforts, she cannot forget her performance at the Holiday Inn in Paladka, Florida…or a New Years Eve gig in Yapoon, Australia…or dancing on a table at a bar mitzvah. Cathy toured in Germany with a French girl band Parallel Vif, opened for Joan Armatrading, Laura Nyro, Dave Mason, and The Band. In the early 80’s she performed at Folk City and the original Bitter End, where she was charmed but cautious of the now long-ago murdered Roy Radin. She even won an MTV basement tape contest in 1986. These experiences are much more than notches in Cathy’s belt; they are cherished experiences that mold her music today.
Having sung for so many people in so many different situations, it should have come to no surprise when a Swedish pop star sung Cathy’s lyrics for a French dance hit. It was perhaps more of a surprise when she rode in an almost sinking gondola in Venice, weighed down by amps and drums, while writing for an award-winning French recording artist. She fought hepatitis C and won, lost friends and a cousin to AIDS, got political, writes songs from her heart and believes that all is possible, even though world events occasionally suck…but then again can produce amazing possibilities like President Barack Obama.
She produced a few records when there was only vinyl, and then cassettes (does anyone remember DAT’s?), and then of course CD’s. Cathy loves to produce and engineer, finding it a great way to earn some cash and make connections. That is how she met and worked with Alicia Keys. Using photography to gain backstage passes, she met John Lee Hooker and Bonnie Raitt when she was only 17, an invaluable chance to look into the soul and reality of a life as a musician. But you can’t get the whole picture without Eve Ensler and Vagina Monologues—when Cathy heard about that, she had to volunteer.
Dividing her time between New York City and Columbia County NY, Cathy Grier is involved in handling every aspect of her career. She records on her own label, SideHill Music. With partner Lenore Troia in 1980, she formed her first independent record label—back when that wasn’t conventional—highlighted by their MTV basement tape victory and numerous recordings under the name of first Troia/Grier and then later as Students Of Life. After venturing out on her own, Cathy lived, recorded, and performed in Key West, where she opened for major artists like Laura Nyro. Upon returning to New York city, she recorded “New York Sessions,” a self-produced album, and then spent six years in Paris and London where she wrote and performed for many artists, including World Music guitarist Pierre Bensusan, Carrere artist Indra (whose 1991 single “Misery” hit number one on the French dance charts), and Sony Music artist Anggun and Maryanna Matisse, whose songs have been featured on United Airlines.
Other personal highlights include singing in small empty churches for their amazing acoustics and pure spirituality, and singing for friends at family special occasions and sad events. She does a mean La Vie En Rose (especially while cooking omelets), and a heart-stopping Amazing Grace.
Currently, Cathy participates in New York City’s MTA program, “Music Under New York.” She recently performed at famed Brooklyn Academy Of Music Hall as a recipient of the 5 Continents Annual Awards ceremony. She has appeared at Avery Fisher Hall and was featured on CNN, CBS Sunday Morning, and NBC’s Today Show. Cathy’s ‘street’ performances reveal a more energetic approach to her music that has attracted the eye of many indie-documentary filmmakers.
The idea of NYCsubwaygirl came to Cathy after waking up one cold February morning to find herself on the cover of AM New York, a free daily newspaper distributed throughout the city, with the headline "Playin' Ain't Payin'". The headline contradicts her reasons for being a subway performer, but as they say, "never let the truth get in the way of a good story." Cathy immediately found herself called "Covergirl" by her friends, and realized how much exposure the cover was getting. In her efforts to dispel the mythical headline, Cathy realized that "subway girl" really characterizes what she is to commuters: that girl who plays in the subway. Thus, NYCsubwaygirl was born.
Ultimately, Cathy Grier believes music is a powerful tool that counteracts ignorance and hate; she refuses to waste her opportunity to use music to literally voice her feelings. But while her songs are sometimes political, sometimes analytical, they are always infused with love as natural as a musical note.