GRACE PETRIE | INTERVIEW
One of the UK’s leading folk singers at the moment, and also one it’s most politically active, Grace Petrie has been tirelessly touring the UK for many years. Now she’s bringing her festive tour, ‘Lefty Christmas’ to Wales this December. Megan Potterton had a chat with the singer.
“I feel like one of the luckiest people in the country because I get reminded night after night of the very best parts of British society. I play to rooms full of people who are using their time to make things better for other people.” Grace Petrie is as enthusiastic about her fans as they are about her. “I really love touring – I feel so lucky because it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. I’m very lucky with the audiences I have. They tend to be amazingly compassionate, switched on and active people.”
Grace’s latest album Heart First Aid Kit is a fantastic mix of both politically and romantically inspired songs. When asked which ones she most enjoyed writing, Grace says “I tend to write political songs when I have something that’s bothering me. With Donald Trump winning the election, I had quite a lot of stuff to process and get off my chest with this record.” She adds that she enjoys playing her more personal songs when in front of a live audience: “I much prefer playing my love songs live. I think I tend to get angry all over again when I play the political songs!”
Despite how much she loves her live audiences, Grace has received her fair share of criticism via the internet. This is something that is no surprise in the age of social media: “I’ve never really had a negative reaction from a live audience, but obviously the internet is a wonderful platform for people to contact you and tell you how terrible you are,” she says with a laugh. Grace seems relatively unphased by this, and her motivation shines through as she speaks.
It is clear she is incredibly passionate about the things she writes about. As a young political singer, Grace believes that politics should be brought into the school curriculum much earlier on than it currently is: “that’s something I’ve been saying for a long time. I was really pleased to see the massive spike in youth turn out at the election last year, because it concerns me a lot that politics is only offered in most schools after the age of sixteen. It cuts out a lot of people who don’t go on to do A Levels, who traditionally have lower socio- economic backgrounds anyway. It worsens the idea that politics is a middle class hobby, when I think it’s for everyone, and needs to be engaged with by everyone.”
And if she had the chance to speak to any young people who didn’t vote in the last election? “Having spent a little bit of time in America in the last couple of years, for me the biggest thing that needs to be on all of our agendas is the NHS. I was astonished by how many people were on the streets over there because there’s absolutely no safety net. People can lose everything because they get a health condition that needs hundreds of thousands of dollars. So I would say that if you’ve ever needed to visit a doctor then that means we all need to be doing everything we can to keep the NHS fully publicly owned.”
So, to end, does Grace think that music has the power to influence how people think about politics? “I think that if political music has any power, then it’s to unite people and show them that they’re not on their own. Sometimes that’s all you need because it’s so difficult to stay active when it feels like you’re the only person trying.”
Grace Petrie Presents a Lefty Christmas, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, Wed 13 Dec. Tickets: £10 Info: 02920232199 / https://clwb.net/