November 26, 2010
I had a beautiful time in Scotland, where I went to speak at the World Parkinson Congress, and did some radio promotion in the UK where Blix Street released a brand new compilation of songs I've recorded from my early days in college with the Irish band The Hags, then Connemara, Hazlewood, and up to the 5th solo cd release "My Life".
Grace Sweeps the 2006 WAMMIE Awards
Grace has just been named Artist of the Year 2006 by the Washington Area Music Association. Her CD "My Life" was named Recording of the Year as well as best contemporary folk recording. She was honored with a Special Recognition Award at the "WAMMIE" awards banquet February 18, 2007. Visit WAMA's web site for more information.
From The Washington Post, Friday, March 3, 2006:
GRACE GRIFFITH "My Life" Blix Street
"My Life" CD Press Release Jan. 2006
Blix Street Records will release a new CD by this well loved area singer in March.
Those who have followed Grace Griffith and her music through her 20-some years of performing (mostly for local audiences, though she has a following far beyond) and recording shouldn't be too surprised by the range of joy and struggle expressed in this dozen song collection. Griffith's reputation as a singer is equaled by her reputation as an interpreter capable of transforming the experiences of living into music that is both comforting and captivating.
“I like to think of it as valentines in the snow -- messages of hope, more credible for having withstood harsh winter elements than if they've been kept safe and protected inside an envelope inside a box.” Those familiar with her life story know Griffith herself has not been spared from the sometimes harsh winds of fate. Her ongoing struggle with young onset Parkinson’s Disease has come to the point that she is facing major medical intervention this spring in the hope of regaining some of her lost abilities and quelling some of the often painful and disabling symptoms. Prior to that operation she will be speaking at the World Parkinson Congress in Washington in February (visit www.worldpdcongress.org for details), as part of her commitment to heightening public understanding about the disease and offering encouragement for others living with it.
Griffith credits Blix Street Records and producers Chris Biondo, Marcy Marxer and Lenny Williams for making it possible for her to continue recording, working within her limitations. Biondo and Williams were formerly key figures in the career of Eva Cassidy, who Marxer and Griffith befriended in her last year. It was Griffith who introduced Blix Street to Eva’s work, leading to a multi-platinum international recording career (posthumous) for Cassidy.
“My Life”, the opening and title cut of Griffith' s new CD, was written by Iris Dement and features orchestration by Roger Scott Craig. It starts things out on a sweet note, acknowledging the immeasurable importance of love in ordinary life. Other selections include works penned by contemporary writers Jane Siberry, Sting, Susan Graham White, Lightfoot, and others, as well as a couple of songs from Appalachian and Irish tradition and a poignantly powerful poem by Griffith’s brother Fred Sisson set to music by singer/songwriter Carey Creed that culminates in a danceable rendering of Jennifer Berezan's "If I Can't Dance"
Al Petteway’s ever exquisite guitar playing and Lenny Williams' tasteful and evocative piano playing form the core accompaniment, embellished by the multi-instrumental talents of Marcy Marxer and Chris Biondo’s rare and solid bass playing. Noteable guests on the recording include Cathy Fink, fiddler Rickie Simpkins, Amy White, Ann Louise White, Zan McLeod, and more. Finishing touches like Anderson Allen's polyethnic percussion, Jesse's Winch's Irish bodhran playing , and Jody Marshall’s innovative use of e-bow on the hammered dulcimer add nicely varied textures.
The overall tone of “My Life” is bittersweet with the emphasis on sweet—that is, balanced by enough bitter to make the sweetness real and the optimism profound. Heartfelt singing by Griffith complemented by lovely harmony vocals, excellent production quality, and great musicianship are bound to please, comfort and inspire.
Grace Griffith will celebrate the release of her new CD "My Life" on the Blix Street record label Monday, March 6 as part of the Institute of Musical Traditions Monday Night concert series in Rockville. She will be joined by musicians who performed on the new recording including guitarist Al Petteway, pianist Lenny Williams, Chris Biondo on bass, and other guests TBA. For more information visit http://www.imtfolk.org/ or call 301-754-3611
Washington Post article Feb. 9, 2005
From the Washington Post Thursday, April 1, 2004:
In 2003, the Washington Area Music Association named Grace Artist of the Year. This honorific, all category "WAMMIE" was presented to Grace at WAMA's awards ceremony in February.
Grace was also named Best Traditional Folk Vocalist.
Her latest album Sands of Time was awarded Best Traditional Folk Recording and was nominated for Album of the Year.
Grace's Groundhog Day (2/2/04) performance with Al Petteway & Amy White on the internationally syndicated Woodsongs Old-fashioned Radio Hour in Lexington, Kentucky is now available on their online archives.
Visit the Kentucky WoodSongs website to view and listen.
Article in Washington Post Nightwatch
Article in Washington Times
"Sands Of Time" Review at Musical Discoveries
"Minstrel Song" Review at Musical Discoveries
"Grace" Review at Musical Discoveries
Grace's PD Notebook
To my fans who request information about how I'm doing--:thank you so very very much for all your support and caring. Believe me, I've needed the light of every candle you lit and every prayerful thought you've sent my way! For those of you who may not know, on March 29 I underwent surgery for implantation of electrodes for deep brain stimulation and on April 5 I went back to the OR and had an electronic controller/battery hooked up to the brain electrode extensions. On April 11 my neurologist "turned on the juice" at an initial, very low setting. I am to return to her in a few weeks and she will assess whether and how much to bump up the settings on my DBS (deep brain stimulation).
DBS, as you probably know is very much "in vogue" currently in medical management of Parkinson's Disease as the disease progresses to the point where medication side effects become as problematic as symptoms, and/or when the symptoms become less responsive to the medications. I get the impression the science is not completely understood, but DBS can buy years of improved function with less medication required. It isn't for everyone--unfortunately the implantation process is rather arduous and there are definite risks involved--but it can offer benefit to a carefully selected population that is nothing short of miraculous (this is especially true for patients with tremor as their primary complaint--miraculous!.
I think it's important to understand that DBS does not cure or stop the progression of Parkinson's Disease. It does offer some relief of symptoms, for at least 5 to ten years as I understand the literature (that's about how long they've been doing it--time will tell if it's longer. Another positive aspect of DBS is it's considered reversible, so if a cure comes down the pike in the meantime I and other DBS patients will be able to benefit from that, as well.
Anyway, 3/29 was a very challenging day for me--the procedure (which admittedly included an hour of debate between me and the surgical team about whether I was up for going through with it that day) took all of 12 hours and I, being the chicken that I am about having people tinker around in my cranium even if it is a nationally reknowned and highly successful neurogsurgeon , had a tough time getting through it. But I did get through it and with a little excellent nursing care (Johns Hopkins can be proud of its nursing staff) I was on my way home a couple of days later with staples in my head where I once had hair). The second part, on 4/5, was easier, probably because they knocked me out (whereas the for the 12 hour marathon on 3/29 I had to be awake and off my medication entirely for the procedure). As a souvenir of the second operation I now bear a box under my left collarbone with is quite visible (a 3" square protrusion)) but much less colorful than it was initially (due to perioperative bruising). In 2 to 5 years, depending on my battery usage, I'll have to have it replaced surgically, and there is talk out there about potential for some sort of external, rechargable device which might eliminate the need for any additional surgery in the future.
So, how am I doing? I had a relatively uneventful hospital course and am definitely on the mend. I am already taking significantly less medication than I needed pre-op to keep me going at an acceptable level of function, and hence have less dyskinesia (involuntary, choreiform, i.e., "dancing" movements related to medication dose. I had gotten to be very much a slave to the clock in that 2 1/2 hours after each dose I'd begin to feel bad and slow down. Now I find myself constantly forgetting to take my meds until 4 or 5 hours past does time!
My guitar playing is better than it was but my voice isn't ready for prime time yet--hopefully they will both come along with a bit of use.
My friends tell me I'm much less wiggly, more expressive, and more energetic overall than I was before the surgery. It's hard for me to be objective about my symptoms, but I can honestly say I'm sleeping better and most days notice some improvement in the discomfort from my hardware (cord that snakes up the side of my head to connect the electrodes with the battery, battey box that will hopefully one of these days start feeling like part of my own anatomy) .
Psychologically this has all been a bit much, and I do have my struggles with gray mornings and dark horizons at times, not to mention some fear of security scanners and such things that can apparently turn interfere with my DBS system, but I trust that as this traumatic event moves into the past, and music and people and nature exert their healing power on me, life will hold more laughter again.
Thanks for asking. I wish you well.