Gillian Grassie (say "Jillian") is a 24 year-old Swiss and American harpist/singer-songwriter whose signature brand of jazz-minded indie pop showcases her "knack for turning seemingly insignificant events into songs worthy of everyone's attention" (Origivation Magazine). Classically trained in both voice and harp, Gillian departed from her traditional music background and began writing original songs while living abroad in Switzerland when she was fifteen. Upon returning to the States, she graduated high school a year early and turned down conservatory acceptances to dive head first into the Philadelphia singer-songwriter circuit. Gillian was booked on the spot after stunning the typically raucous crowd at The Point's open mic into attentive silence with a song – her first public performance of original material – and quickly became a local favorite.
Since then, she has independently released two critically acclaimed recordings, her 2005 EP To an Unwitting Muse and 2007's Serpentine, which Music for America hailed as "an album that belongs on every critic's top-ten list not only for the year, but for the decade." Both sold out of their original pressings. Of her live performance, Grammy-winner Marc Cohn has said: "After hearing only one song, I became an instant Gillian Grassie fan. It's rare to hear a young singer with such control and understated soulfulness, and even more rare to hear a harp provide such a deep percussive groove. I was immediately captivated by her sound."
She has toured at premier listening rooms along the East Coast and Southern United States, including The Tin Angel, World Cafe Live, Eddie's Attic, The Living Room, and The Bitter End, and delighted audiences as far abroad as France, Germany, and India. She has been a featured act at WXPN's XPoNential Music Festival, the Appel Farm Arts and Music Festival, the Bethlehem Musikfest, and the Edinburgh International Harp Festival, where she debuted at the tender age of fourteen. Her song "Silken String" finished second in the 2008 New York Songwriters Circle Competition and has since been picked up by triple-A radio stations nationally.
Gillian has been profiled in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Times of India, and on NBC 10, but perhaps more telling are the glowing fan reviews on iTunes, Pandora, and CDBaby, whose praise is often as articulate and sensitive as the music it describes. One listener wrote: "Serpentine is really impressive, in the traditional sense of the term; it's left an imprint on me. Her music is completely unique; you take her music on her terms; she isn't derivative at all. Gillian knows what she wants to say and knows exactly how to say it. At an age (and in an age) when younger performers are either finding their style or – mostly – copying others', Gillian Grassie has already clearly established her sound and her voice." She was most recently awarded a prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, which will take her and her harp through Germany, France, India, Indonesia, China and Russia for a year-long study of the relationships between new technologies and independent music scenes around the globe. She is a 2009 graduate of Bryn Mawr College.