Althea Grace, 15, of Algonquin, has released her first album and performs weekly throughout McHenry County and elsewhere. She won the McHenry County Fair Talent Contest a few years back. (Photo provided)

Althea Grace has performed on countless stages, written more than 50 songs and most recently, released her first album.

Quite a feat for any artist. And Grace is still in high school.

The 15-year-old sophomore at Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville has performed since age 7, strumming her guitar and singing songs she’s written. First noticed during an open mic event in Chilicothe, she’s been asked to play at numerous festivals and venues since.

Grace won the McHenry County Fair Talent Contest a few years back and began working on her first CD, “Running the Show,” last year. Available through iTunes, www.cdbaby.com and her website, www.altheagraceband.com, the CD – released earlier this month – features 10 of her “favorite and best songs.” She writes both the music and lyrics.

“I started writing songs years ago. I can’t even remember when,” she said. “I thought I needed to put them out there.”

The daughter of Dave and Meghan Roggenbuck of Algonquin (she goes by Grace so she doesn’t have to spell her last name all the time), Grace is hosting a CD release party at 9 p.m. March 14 at Mackey’s Hideout in McHenry. She has numerous performances scheduled almost weekly throughout the spring in Chicago, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin and here in McHenry County.

Here’s more of what she had to say about her musical aspirations and what she’s accomplished so far:

Kunzer: Tell us about you’re music. How would you describe it?

Grace: It’s kind of a little bit of everything. When I listen to music, I listen to a lot of indie and indie-folk. There’s something about the Blues I really love. It’s kind of Blues mixed with rock with that indie-pop influence in there. A couple tunes on the album are heavy rock, a couple blues. Others are from the indie-pop type genre.

Kunzer: Any musical influences?

Grace: Oh, I mean I’m a guitar player so Jimmy Hendrix absolutely. There’s a new artist, ZZ Ward. She’s a singer/songwriter. I absolutely love her. I think she’s the reason I started writing music the way I do. The Tedeschi Trucks Band, they’re my idols. They’re something else.

Kunzer: What’s the writing process like for you?

Grace: Some of it’s personal experience. Some of it just kind of happens. I just sit down and I’ll star writing the chords or the guitar part and the lyrics, either they are something I’ve been wanting to write for awhile or it just kind of happens, flows with the music. I don’t know how to describe it really. It just kind of happens.

Kunzer: Does performing come to you naturally?

Grace: My mom used to play piano, my dad guitar a little and my brother used to play drums. My cousin [Dani Alevizos] sings and plays guitar with me. Everyone [in the family] is huge music lovers, so they all listen to music. It was kind of something with me that was bound to happen.

Kunzer: Did you think it would be happening this soon?

Grace: I didn’t think it would be happening this soon or as much as it has. It just came naturally. I didn’t know I was supposed to be nervous. I was 7 years old on stage. I didn’t know it was something people don’t normally do. I never expected to be where I am today, but I’m humbled by it and very [grateful].

Kunzer: How do you fit it all in?

Grace: It’s really difficult. I try to get as much done for school as I can right away. … With homework and stuff, what kid isn’t bad about homework? I’m probably worse about it, but I do as much as I can to get everything balanced. My planner is my right-hand man.

Kunzer: Where do you see yourself in the future?

Grace: I just want to be able to do this forever. I want to be able to play music and not have to worry about the money. Everyone wants to be famous, but I think mostly I just want this to be my job, my life.

By JAMI KUNZER jkunzer@shawmedia.com

Comments