Photo by Shervin Lainez
Grace Weber can count a lot of high-profile acclaim on her short musical resume. At age 17, the Milwaukee-born, Brooklyn-based singer earned a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, which culminated in a performance at the Kennedy Center. In 2009, Weber was picked out of 400,000 applicants to appear on Oprah, singing “Natural Woman” to a rapt audience. Though she fielded numerous major label offers, Weber decided to hone her songwriting first. Even while hunkering down, she nabbed several huge gigs, like a live set on The Today Show and SXSW “One To Watch” NPR.
Even with all the accolades, Weber approached her second album simply. Growing up, she considered Etta James, Dinah Washington, and Lauryn Hill as her “voice teachers,” and when writing and recording The Refinery, she tapped into these roots. She was also certain that a gospel choir would be needed on a few songs, since Weber got her start singing gospel–“it’s the reason I love singing,” she says. For “Perfect Stranger,” the first taste from The Refinery (out October 7), Weber filters her love of gospel through a New York sensibility. “I see myself in strangers / on the subway, on the street,” she sings, finding beauty and danger in the unknown.