After a five year hiatus, Grace Carter's new EP has received critical acclaimMariana dos Santos Pires with Permission for Varsity

Legendary singer and musician Nina Simone once said: “I choose to reflect the times and situations in which I find myself. That, to me, is my duty.”

Such words have long served as inspiration for singer-songwriter Grace Carter, as she has navigated finding her identity and sense of purpose while coming of age in the music industry. When our Zoom call connects, Grace is ensconced on her sofa beneath a framed print of Simone – one of three different prints of her idol, she informs me, that hang in her living room.

We begin our conversation with Grace reflecting on her career so far. “It’s been a rollercoaster for sure!” she says. “I feel like I’m a completely different person now to the person I was when I first became an artist at the age of 17.”

Now 24, Grace explains that while her relationship with the music industry has certainly changed over the years, her relationship with music itself has remained steadfast: “It’s always been a cathartic thing for me where I write about my emotions, and then just put them out, like: “Oh, here’s my trauma, have it all” […] I’m a very emotional person so I’m never short of a story or something to be writing about. I’m also a Gemini so I feel like the drama just hops out of me!”

“I’ve always had therapy, but it has never worked the same as sitting down and writing a song”

In fact, this outpouring of emotion and “drama” is exactly how her 2018 career-launching hit, “Why Her Not Me”, came about. Grace describes how the song, which explores her feelings of rejection, betrayal, and anguish towards her absentee father, was written in the space of merely a few hours. “I was going through something really intense that day […] I’ve always had therapy, but it has never worked the same as sitting down and writing a song.”

The following year, Grace received national recognition when she placed third on the BBC’s “Sound of 2019” list of promising new music talent. While this accolade should only have engendered confidence and secured an upward trajectory for her career, Grace explains that, in fact, the opposite happened: the onset of the pandemic in early 2020 led her to become “extremely lost […] I didn’t know what I was doing or what I wanted to do anymore.”

She didn’t release any further bodies of work until July of this year – a hiatus of five years. The wait was worth it, however, as her sophomore EP titled “A Little Lost, A Little Found” has received significant critical acclaim.

Imbued with her trademark deeply personal and self-reflective lyricism, it tells the story of how she overcame her crisis of confidence in 2020. “Each of these songs is a step in the right direction of processing my identity, my relationships, the way that I look at myself, the things I feel within myself. Each one kind of gave me a little bit more clarity, but at the same time they’re a little lost, and a little found […] I still don’t know 100% who I am or what I need, but through this project I found a bit of peace.”

“That’s human... We look to find a piece of music that tells our story”

Perhaps what makes this project different to her previous work is that, as well as telling her own story, it also sees Grace take on a new role – that of a voice to tell the stories of others, too. One such track is “Riot”, which, she explains, has been almost a decade in the making.

“My friend Fabian originally started writing it in 2014, about Eric Garner,” an African American man killed by police after an officer put him in a prohibited chokehold during arrest. Video footage emerged that generated widespread national attention, raising questions about the use of force by law enforcement, and of institutional racism. She continues: “But then in 2020, I got sent it and I changed parts after the murder of George Floyd, because I felt so strongly that between 2014 and 2020, nothing had changed at all. History was repeating itself.”


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With renewed purpose, and following a very successful tour earlier this year, Grace is determined to keep looking forward: “I don’t want to stop putting music out ever again. I just want to keep growing, keep building, and keep pushing myself to talk about things that are important […] maybe sometimes things that they don’t want to hear, but I don’t feel comfortable not using my voice for something that is important to me.”

For Grace, her audience’s relationship to her music is just as important as her own. “What I have realised is that people look to my music for that escape, as I do to other music. I think that’s human, that’s what we do. We look to find a piece of music that tells our story.”

Reconnected with her songwriting superpowers, Grace seems perfectly poised to both honour her idol’s legacy and do her “duty” to “reflect the times” that we all live in.