Photo by Alicia Brianne Photography
Marissa Grace's favorite free hang: "Fashion Valley Mall, duh."
"I play pop rock, infused with some folk, funk, and jazz,” says La Mesa’s Marissa Grace, who started studying piano at age four. The 13-year-old took vocal lessons with local stars Eve Selis and Mattie Mills, as well as singing in stage productions with the Christian Youth Theater. “My love for music has led to me learning and performing with the ukulele, guitar, and bass,” she says. “I incorporate all of these into most of my shows and recordings.”
"Dream a Little Dream"
...the standard sung/played live by Marissa Grace
The singer/songwriter says her life completely changed after her spoof of “Rude” by Magic earned her airplay on the local Jeff & Jer radio show a couple of years ago. “I submitted my rewritten custom lyrics to the song, coming from the girlfriend’s point of view. The radio show liked it so much, they played it over and over again. It became a thing...eventually, I was connected with a music producer and another writer and, since then, we’ve written and produced over a dozen originals.
“My music partner, Charles Jirkovsky [Moonlight Stage Productions, Neisha’s Dance & Music Academy], plays lead guitar and is also an award-winning composer and playwright. We first got together when he started running the music lessons department at Guitar Center in La Mesa.”
Also a school band and choir director, Jirkovsky composed and wrote the musical Sheila (which played Patio Playhouse in 2012 and Ocean Beach Playhouse in 2014) and composed the music for Margaret Larlham’s Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser (staged in 2015 at the Don Powell Theatre at SDSU).
Grace stays busy with school and playing competitive club soccer, though she still promises “new music each week” (including requested covers) to online followers of her various social-media streams. “Several of these [songs] are being picked up via publishers for network TV shows and, yes, through uploading a few YouTube videos, I now have a very large social-media fan base.” Indeed, her YouTube cover of “Dream a Little Dream of Me” has earned over 10,000 views. “It’s also driven by some songs I’ve posted on SoundCloud.”
Her professional pace and work ethic extends to frequent performances at area events such as Artwalk and the Coyote Music Festival, as well as at Belmont Park and private functions. She also logged appearances this past summer at the county fair in Del Mar, the San Diego Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon, a Ronald McDonald House Big Red Shoe charity event, and the ninth annual Wine and Music Festival at Liberty Station.
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN LISTENING TO LATELY?
“Tori Kelly’s Unbreakable, Meghan Trainor’s Thank You, and Shawn Mendes’s Handwritten.”
ANYTHING YOU WERE EMBARRASSED TO MENTION?
“I recently played the lead in Peter Pan the Musical at my school. The entire CD still lives on in my mom’s car.”
ANYONE EVER SAY YOU LOOK LIKE A PARTICULAR CELEBRITY?
“Madison Elle Beer, the singer from YouTube and Twitter. Or my mom — she thinks she’s a local celebrity, ha!”
IN WHAT FICTIONAL UNIVERSE WOULD YOU LIKE TO LIVE?
“The sea from Little Mermaid.”
FAVORITE FREE HANGOUT?
“I’m a teenage girl, so Fashion Valley Mall, duh!”
KNOW ANY GOOD JOKES?
“What’s Michelle Obama’s favorite vegetable? Barackolli.”
GREATEST CONCERT YOU EVER SAW?
“Tori Kelly. I got to work with her vocal instructor Billy Purnell this summer.”
ANYTHING MISSING IN YOUR WORLD?
SOMETHING YOU NEVER RUN OUT OF?
“Protein bars, ’cause I’m still learning how to cook meals.”
FEARS OR PHOBIAS?
“Heights and tomatoes.”
“I broke my ankle when doing a cartwheel and was in a cast for two months. Sucked!”
BEST AND WORST THING ABOUT LIVING IN LA MESA/MOUNT HELIX?
“My best friend in the whole world, Ava, lives next door. The worst thing is we have no sidewalks or streetlights in Mt. Helix.”
WHERE DO YOU TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS?
“Coronado. It has sidewalks and streetlights.”
BRUSH WITH FAME?
“I met Shawn Mendes at a private concert and had my picture taken with him.”
CAN YOU RECOMMEND A GOOD MOVIE BASED ON A BOOK?
“Soul Surfer, the true story about a girl surfer whose arm gets bitten off by a shark, because Bethany Hamilton is such an inspiring athlete and human being.”
SOMETHING WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
“I was born dead and rushed to the neonatal intensive-care unit.”