This past weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of attending ACL and speaking to the incredible Grace Sorensen. A local R&B artist with a voice like butter and a heart of gold. From the moment I met up with her, I was in awe of this twenty-year-old talent. Her kindness was everpresent, and everything from the outfit to the conversation to the music exuded what I can only describe as star quality. Grace is going places, and I’m so honored to have spoken with her about it all. Our conversation touched on everything from her cultura, to her discography, with her adding some exclusive details about what’s to come and even an upcoming song title. Before you go down a rabbit hole listening to every single one of her songs, which I do encourage, here is my conversation with the effervescent Grace Sorensen.
So we’re here at ACL, are you excited to be here?
Have you been here before?
So amazing to be recognized that way, and with it being Hispanic Heritage Month!
Yes, I know it’s perfect timing, right?! It’s beautiful. It’s really cool. Doing those backup positions before has really taught me a lot about ACL and I really love it. I’ve always wanted to play my own set. And I feel like through these last couple of years it was manifested, and then being able to represent like part of the Latin community is really powerful to me. There’s usually not very many. And our one headliner, Kali, was taken off. So, you know, I think that it’s very important that those Latin artists that are here stand up and we talk and we meet people just to show up, you know?
Absolutely, so a little bit of background. You grew up in Austin, you’re the daughter of a first-generation Mexican mother and a Danish father. Culturally, what has that been like for you? Is there one culture you identify more with or when that gets erased?
Yeah! So, my family’s very unique. Both of my parents are the black sheep of their families, so my dad grew up in Arkansas and then came to Austin or Dallas originally, and then my mom grew up in San Antonio, where my grandparents moved from Mexico. They’re from Torreón and Jalisco. So, they were very traditional Mexican grandparents, and unfortunately, my dad’s parents passed before I got to meet them. So my family was a lot more Mexican than white or Danish. That did affect me for a long time–in a great way, but it made me confused growing up.
You know, I never really knew who I fit in with because I didn’t fit in with, like the white kids, but I also wasn’t Mexican enough to fit in with the Mexican kids. So I was always somewhere in between with the other kids that didn’t fit in. But as I got older, I realized that being proud of my Mexican heritage is where I find the most identity, to lean into it more. Cause most of my family on my Mexican side still lives in Mexico, they live in Mexico City. Just being able to tap into that and allowing myself to really embrace that. I think it’s really cool to be mixed. But, you know, I think it’s really important to still give love to both sides.
For sure, I think it’s so sad some people are like ‘well now because I’m half I’m not fully XYZ’ but if anything it’s like you’re fully both.
Exactly! Yeah, you’re fully both! I love that!
It’s that appreciation of everything. So where are your parents, given their cultural background and everything, supportive of what you wanted to pursue when you wanted to pursue music?
Not originally. So both my parents are also first-generation college graduates. So, my dad coming from his background, they were raised very poor, in a little trailer home. And then my mom grew up in San Antonio in a small little house, and my grandparents were very traditional and really pushed her to go to college. My mom is such a hard worker and found ways to pay for it all herself and graduate and start a business. So, she still runs her dance studio.
Absolutely! So they were originally very supportive of the idea of me being creative because both of them are entrepreneurs. But it did take time to prove to them that I really meant this and that it wasn’t just a phase or something I was kind of trying out. My parents they support, but they’re not going to invest. It’s kind of like you’ve got to prove to us that this is really what you want to be doing. And that just fueled my drive for it so much more. It really helped me [be] like, ‘all right, I want to prove to my parents this is what I want to do. Like, all right, let’s get this going. Let’s get to work.’ So but they’re very supportive, extremely supportive now. And that’s helped me so much. So much.
You just got to prove it. And then they’re like, okay, we’re here!
Yeah, right? They’re like I guess it works, you’re at ACL, all right.
That’s huge. Is this the movement or has there been a moment before where you’re like, I’m an artist. I’ve made it. This is it.
I think this year probably. ‘I’ve made it’ is kind of like a tricky thing to say ‘cause I don’t know if I’ll ever really feel like that, because I don’t really know what that is, you know? But, just feeling like, ‘oh, yeah, for sure. I’m locked in. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Or I can do this for the rest of my life.’ It’s probably been this weekend and South By too–that was the moment where I was like, ‘All right, cool. Now people that are in the industry are recognizing what I’m doing, and that feels really incredible.’ I cried, of course, when I found out I was doing ACL, and it’s just been a really cool transition into this.
I know how I am and once I’m focused on something it’s really hard to get me to give up. So it’s just taking opportunities and continuing to grow from where I’m at now.
So what song are you most looking forward to playing live?
Ooo that’s a great question! Oh, sorry, I just got excited. Oh, my song Miss Majesty is a pretty slow, like, sensual song, which isn’t usually what I was going for, but it just happened. And my musical director, who’s incredible, he programmed that show and that part of it in such a cool way. I really wanted to incorporate Latin music into my set–and I am eventually going to release Latin music in Spanish. But for this show, I don’t have any yet. So I was like, all right, we got to put something for the Cultura like I’ve gotta put something in there. So I was like, can we do like a perreo beat? Could we do a little Reggaeton beat mixed in with the programming?
So he sat with it and I sent him a couple references. He’s not Hispanic, so he was kind of guessing. [Grace laughs] But he did an incredible mashup of like a really sick, like heavy like a reggaeton beat right before Miss Majesty. So I’m dancing in that part and I love it like that sounds so good. For my culture!
That’s so cool! Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Absolutely. I have to be alone for at least a couple of minutes. I usually just, like, talk to God or I get my mind right and my priorities right, and I tell myself the things I need to tell myself to stay focused. I take a minute to center myself and I always just have to have a couple of moments to myself and just remember why I love what I do and just take myself back to that space. I used to do that as a dancer too, just finding a space somewhere or putting my headphones on, listening to my favorite music. That’s always been very important to me.
So did your interest in the arts start with dance?
Yeah, I grew up dancing pretty professionally in all styles. Mostly ballet, hip hop, contemporary, and that just created this really passionate love for music, which is why I love dancing. And so a lot of those traditions that I have from dancing and even the creative process is borrowed from my dance experience. And it’s helped a lot in a lot of ways.
If someone has never heard of you before, how would you describe your music to them? And what are two songs you would recommend they listen to to get the full Grace Sorensen experience?
Oh, what a cool questions! Um, the Number One that I think really encompasses the sound I’m going for is, is Digits. Definitely influenced by nineties, influenced by the greats that came before me, and with a twist too.
Your outfit is very 90s vibes, I love it!
Thank you! I’ve always kind of gravitated towards styles like that, plus I usually buy secondhand clothes so naturally a lot of it is from the nineties or from 2000s. But yeah, that song for the sound and then for lyrics, I would say–Ooh, I have an unreleased song that I really want to say.
Oh my gosh, say it!
Yeah, but no one knows it yet! Well, I have a new song that’s coming out called Madness, and that song is definitely very me. It’s like a house beat with, like, really beautiful [lyrics]. But if not that, Attraction lyrically. It means a lot. It’s not about relationships, it’s just about finding your power and living in your truth. And I think that’s really cool. I love writing about things like that and just being very honest.
So yeah, most of my newer coming-out stuff is a lot more Grace in my opinion. Which I think I’ll always say that because you’re always growing into yourself. But those two for now.
And then okay, last question, any advice for young Latinas or people out there who are interested in becoming a musician, joining the music industry now?
Absolutely. Don’t let what people say about what style you want to do, or how you want to dress or present stop you from anything. A lot of the times, people will tell me like, ‘Oh, you need to be doing only Latin music or reggaeton or singing only in Spanish.’ And I’m like, I don’t know, but I’m a mix of a lot of things. I’m an American girl, you know? I grew up listening to mostly soul and all types of things like that. So it’s like my music and my sound is a melting pot of all these things that I’ve experienced and who I am. So whatever someone is saying, if you want to do something that isn’t traditionally what a Latina does or what is typically expected, or you’re presenting differently, who cares? Just live your truth and believe in yourself for sure.
I love that. I mean, you’re representing so many things. You’re Texan, which is like a different thing also, just being in the music industry–that alone. You’re female, you’re Latina, you’re Danish. The specificity will make people relate to and love you so so much. Thank you so much for speaking to me!