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Podcast: Connecticut State Troubador Kristen Graves Has a Great Pete Seeger Story

Editor’s Note: Kristen Graves is the Connecticut State Troubadour. When I found out that she had met Pete Seeger, I asked her to lie if the answer to the question of whether he was as good a guy as he seemed was no. She didn’t have to lie. Check out the podcast and responses she submitted to questions sent by The Daily Music Break:

Tell us about yourself.

I am a singer/songwriter originally from Green Bay, WI. I tour nationally (soon to be internationally in 2015!) throughout the year, and currently live in Fairfield, CT with my husband, my dog, and our international student roommate. I started writing my own music in 2000, released my first album in 2002, and started touring in 2004. Since then I’ve released 5 albums, 2 EPs and 1 Christmas CD.

How did you get started in music?

I begged for piano lessons. Begged and begged. I used to make up my own songs (I’m sure they were amazing) and pound on the keys as loud as possible just to test out all the different sounds I could make on the piano. [/column][column size=one_half position=last]A Conversation with Kristen Graves:

Finally, at age 6, the piano teacher would take me on (you had to be in 1st grade) and I loved it. I studied Classical piano as a child and was really successful. I went to a lot of competitions and have a lot of old trophies.

kristin_gravesIn high school, I attended Lilith Fair and realized that THAT was what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be a singer/songwriter. I sang to myself, but never anywhere else, so I decided to join the choir. Turned out I was pretty good and really loved it. I started learning songs by Sarah McLachlan and Jewel, and decided that this was the job for me.

I studied music and religion at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, joined the choir, toured the country and started volunteering at a children’s home in Oaxaca, Mexico. Once I started volunteering, spending time with people who lived different lives than me, and learning their stories – the songs couldn’t come fast enough.

To this day, I still visit those same children, and I still write songs with them in mind.

3) Were you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones?

[contextly_sidebar id=”Tite41SYN7KrvPvSYka79pclexULgeVm”]Ah yes – my parents were huge country music fans. In fact, my father thought I was going to be a country singer because I have a strong voice and tell a lot of stories. Turns out that works for folk music too. We had a lot of Johnny Cash, and a lot of Dolly Parton. (And apparently I was also really into the Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack as well – no idea why.)

4) What’s the side of you that the public never sees?

Not much. I’m pretty open and I’m pretty willing to share. In fact, most times I take a stage, I have no idea what’s going to come out of my mouth in between songs. I probably overshare a bit. With that – there are some things that are off limits – health is one of them. I don’t talk about it. Mine or my family’s. I don’t know why. I just feel like it’s too personal.

5) What’s coming up in your career? What’s exciting?

I’m working on my first international tour in October 2015. I cannot wait!

6) What else should we know about you?

I love dogs. I’m crazy for them.

I also love the Amish, and even had an Amish penpal (and outfit that I would wear as I wrote to her) when I was in the 3rd grade.

I secretly wish that I had the time/money/motivation to go to medical school. I’d love to be a doctor.

I love crime shows. Can’t get enough of Law & Order. But I’m a super peaceful person, I swear.

I can eat an entire package of Oreos in one sitting. It may be what eventually kills me.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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