From Rochester to Nashville: Grace Morrison picked as showcase artist

Jul 11, 2023

ROCHESTER — On Saturday, July 8, Rochester-based singer and songwriter Grace Morrison played to a field full of people on a laid-back summer evening at Eastover Farm, but in September she’ll take the stage as a showcase performer at Americanafest in Nashville, Tennessee.

For Morrison, who has been a musician since she was young, playing gigs throughout the Tri-Town, this is the culmination of a lifetime of work. 

“This is my nine to five job, I wake up in the morning and I work on my voice and then I write for three hours,” she said. “I've been really meticulous in going to Nashville regularly and writing with people and getting better [at] writing — I don’t quit.”

Americanafest is a music festival in Nashville, Tennessee that features musical groups, singers and songwriters on multiple stages from Sept. 19 to 23. 

Morrison described the five-day event as a music “industry hub.”

“You have music press and people from Rolling Stone [Magazine] show up and managers and booking agents,” she said. “Everyone's going to hear what's new and what music is starting to make waves.”

As a showcase artist, Morrison will have a “very specific amplified performance” that tends to draw in big crowds, she said.

But even though she’s bringing her brand of “Saltwater Country” to a bigger venue, she hasn’t forgotten her roots. 

She described picking up a guitar for the first time at 12-years-old and playing gigs at the Hardware Cafe and Sugar Shack in Marion. 

Marion is “where I learned how to perform,” she said. “I will always and forever be grateful for that place … because it gave me confidence when I didn't have it.”

Morrison still hangs on to a $20 bill given to her by actor and Marion resident James Spader while performing as a child. 

“I keep it in a photo album,” she said with a laugh.

Morrison uses the term “Saltwater Country” to describe her sound, reflecting the subjects she sings about and her New England roots. 

“My music is about shedding the things that hold us back and talking about things that other people don't want to talk about like mental health issues,” she said. “And here, the water is such a part of who I am … don't we all go to the water to feel reborn and to decompress.”

She added that country music isn’t just “beer, trucks and flags.” 

“Country music is just songs about people that anybody could relate to, it doesn't have to be those things,” she said.

Her songwriting and musical style have been influenced by everything from childhood favorite Hanson and the all-female Lilith Fair concert tour to the musicians she has worked with personally at writers’ rooms in Nashville.

“My experience in Nashville [is that] I go and I'm in a writers room with somebody,” she said. “I've been really fortunate that a lot of these writers' rooms are with hit songwriters, so it's cool and [they’re] really supportive.”

As she prepares to perform again in Nashville for Americanafest, she hopes to be a role-model for her four-year-old son. 

“My overarching message is that we have to not quit on ourselves and get rid of the negative self-talk,” she said. “If we could all just be our authentic selves and dig deep into that, that's when we start to find less resistance in the world … that is what I hope I'm modeling for my child.”

For more information about Americanafest, visit For more on Grace Morrison, including upcoming show dates, visit,