Gillian Grassie (say: Jillian Grass-y) is a contemporary harpist/singer-songwirter whose signature brand of alt/pop has been described as “music that is sure to haunt you like a reassuring and melodious ghost." [Origivation] Her distinctive vocal approach, paired with a remarkable ability for storytelling, makes her first full-length effort, Serpentine, "a treat" [Philadelphia Citypaper].
Her clever songwriting is supported by extensive classical training in both harp and voice. Gillian's interpretations of traditional Scottish harp repertoire earned her first place prizes in five competitions and an invitation to perform at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival in 2001. In her youth, she sang with both national and regional ACDA honors choirs in such prestigious venues as Heinz Hall, Symphony Hall, and The National Cathedral.
Gillian first began to hone her unique sound while living abroad in Switzerland during her sophomore year of high school. Granted a respite from the intensive solo instruction she had been receiving in the States, and inspired by the poetry of Philip Larkin she encountered in a British Literature course, Gillian began crafting songs. Pulling from her love of Joni Mitchell, Ani Difranco, Bjork, Dar Williams, John Mayer, and James Taylor, she began to blend and play with sounds and patterns not traditionally applied to the harp.
Upon returning to the states, Gillian graduated high school early and jumped into Philadelphia’s open mic circuit, quickly becoming a local favorite. Her debut, independent EP To An Unwitting Muse, released in June 2005, sold out of its original pressing and helped her cross over onto radio territory, receiving airplay on WXPN, and making the top ten in Q102's "Have a Great Gig" contest. Her first full-length effort, Serpentine, was released in October 2007, and has received rave reviews, praised as “an album that belongs on every critic’s best of list not only for the year, but also the decade,” [Music For America].
Gillian Grassie was born on May 30th, 1986 and is a Philadelphia native. She is currently an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr College, where she studies Comparative Literature.
"...the harp in this context is simply exciting."
"...lyrical imagery is sophisticated yet relatable, music combines a lot of stylistic elements, and does so in a way that sounds edgy and contemporary."
"...incredibly distinctive vocal approach."
"...flaunts harp convention with a sassy assuredness."
"Her music deftly blends jazz, pop, folk and rock with mesmerizing effectiveness, with forays into techno and even bossa nova further blurring the boundaries of tradition."
"That she flirts with subjects seemingly incongruous with the harp's refined stereotype a one-night stand, for instance, in the Latin-inflected "Hi," and older men who hit on young women on the unreleased but frequently performed "Rewriting the Alphabet" displays a boldness that she is happily cultivating."
Ticket Magazine calls Gillian:
"...the type of musician you can only dare to dream exists"
"...a driven professional, a tough negotiator, an independent spirit, an intellectual calculator, and an innovator par excellence. She is a harpist/singer/songwriter who is brining the harp into the 21st century with honest songs of delight, hardship, vulnerability, and good times"
"...the 19-year-old multicultural, multifaceted, multitalented, beautiful young woman is real."