Every Christmas, freshman Grace Fields and her two older sisters gather around the fire, throw a blanket on and queue up a CD from the past — the one with two-year-old Grace singing along to her sisters’ harp playing.
Fields started singing Jingle Bells not long after she said mama for the first time. She was five years old when she started voice lessons and when performed her first musical, “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Now, going into her first year at East, she’s written an album with her own original songs, been in 20 musicals and won over five musical awards. For as long as her family can remember, she has been trying to improve her singing or messing with her guitar to find new chords. And because of the age difference between her and her sisters, she has stepped above what’s normal for kids her age.
Grace is very driven and musically talented. I think no matter what phase of life she’s in, she has always been very passionate about the things she likes. She’s always worked really hard to accomplish her goals.
“Grace is very driven and musically talented,” her sister Sophie said. “I think no matter what phase of life she’s in, she has always been very passionate about the things she likes. She’s always worked really hard to accomplish her goals.”
Fields’ maturity and creativity has stemmed greatly from her family. Her older sisters, Sophie and Allie, moved on to high school and college when she began elementary school. Because her sisters were at the age to appreciate culture in foreign places, they traveled to Ireland, Patagonia and France — not your average field trips for a first grader.
“That big age difference has influenced her because we were going on trips and doing things with our older daughters that you don’t usually do with someone her age,” her mom Beth Fields said. “I think some of those experiences have influenced her music.”
Fields has released an eight-song album and various singles since her first recording session at age 12. Gardner by the Sea, a song on her debut album, includes lyrics that were inspired by a pastel-colored picture of Venice in her living room — a souvenir from her trip to Italy when she was 14.
Her most recent single, Checkmate, includes imagery from a trip to France when she was five. Towards the middle of the track, she references the Palace of Versailles. She vaguely remembers the beautiful castle-esque scenery.
“Checkmate has a lyric that goes ‘down, da down, it came like the fall of Versailles’,” Fields said. “I have vague memories of visiting this French palace on that trip. After finding more about Versailles, I knew it would make a great simile to use in my song.”
Through experiences in everyday life, whether she’s roaming the European streets or studying for a geometry quiz, Fields is constantly thinking of what note she wants to hit next or the lyrics to her next chorus.
“She might have an idea while she’s at dinner or hanging out with her family and she will always write notes on her phone,” her sister Allie said. “Her constant observing of the world is a way she works really hard because she’s always thinking about her music.”
Her creative process is different for every song she writes. Sometimes she writes a song on the pink couch in her living room and sometimes it’s in the instrument-strewn music nook off the corner of her room. No matter where she writes, it’s a trip down the street to her producer’s studio afterwards — organized, with her metallic gold notebook in hand.
All of Fields’ music is produced by Chris Bihuniak through Rock Band Academy Studios. From the technical guitar chords to the deep lyric brainstorming that requires a mini therapy sesh — Bihuniak has been her go-to guy for over three years. Alice, a song they coproduced for her debut album, was turned into a three-minute music video with a grand setting and two of her friends as the Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter.
“If you look at her music video for Alice, that was pretty much all her and her mom’s work,” Bihuniak said. “That was all her vision and she pretty much wrote the script. I shot the video but it came to a point where it just made more sense for me to leave my computer with her and let her do some of the editing herself.”
Now that Fields is at East, she plans on continuing her music passion — whether that means getting decked out in stage makeup for the East musical or heading to the studio after school to work on new music.
“Music is the way that I can connect with people and express myself,” Fields said. “As I’ve gotten older, I realize that music is such an important part of my life, and I am continually drawn to the creation of it. I’m not sure what the future will bring, but I know that music will play a significant role in my future.”