“I tried to bury these songs in my desk drawer, and walk away from them, but it felt like there were ghosts saying ‘get us out, we are not dead.’” reveals pop songstress Jaguar Grace.
Up until now, the New York artist has had an accomplished career in music outside of the pop realm. But no matter how far she journeyed beyond the pop firmament, a constellation of infectiously hooky songs she wrote two decades ago beckoned. Now, Jaguar resurrects this exquisite collection of orchestral pop electronica, breathing new life into its lessons of love.
Her latest release is a 5 song EP titled “Boyography Pt. l.” Each track will be paired with a whimsical video portraying the songs’ reflections on past relationships. Jaguar’s Adult Contemporary premiere kicks off with the slinky Pop single “To All The Boys I'v Loved Before (featuring Sergio Cabral).” This single boasts a cameo by longtime iconic Bowie guitarist Earl Slick, and trumpeter Mac Gollehon, a Jaguar collaborator since 1997, who has riffed on Bowie's “Let's Dance,” and worked with pop luminaries such as Duran Duran, Mick Jagger and Chaka Khan among others. The track is Jaguar's reconstitution of the Julio Iglesias smash “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before”. Blending genres to create a rock and hip-hop hybrid employing live drums, trumpet stabs, ethereal pads, fat bass line, sine wave synth motif delivered with sweetly sensual vocals. In concept the EP is an homage to past loves. “Each connection taught me what does and does not work for me. Character, respect, humor, talent, passion, brains and self-discipline. Each romance shared a different aspect of these qualities. The journey entails finding the right partner with the best combination that's simpatico.” Jaguar reveals.
Working with film composer Max Surla, the tracks have touches from Jaguar’s classical background such as baroque melodic motif development, dramatic dynamics, and cleverly winding arrangements. “After All” traverses stately piano passages, symphonic synth motifs, and imaginative key changes coupled with emotionally open lyrics and vocals. The storyteller song “Slipaway” recounts a bittersweet and dramatic tale of unrequited love. Other singles in the series are the majestic “Artificial Heart,” a cautionary tale about heeding intuition when entering a new courtship, and the dramatic pop-rocker, “She Fell,” featuring ace Bowie band alumni Sterling Campbell, Gerry Leonard, and Jaguar mainstay, Mac Gollehon, infusing his jazz chops into this modern-day rock epic.
Jaguar’s story arcs from how a prodigiously gifted musician becomes an esteemed classical organist and choir director, but has been burying a vibrant pop artist spirit. From age 7, she studied piano and organ, and, by 13, she was enduring a rigorous program of rehearsals and performances, often woodshedding 5 hours a day. Her gifts and steely resolve were recognized early on when she earned the Tri-M Master Musician award, and, at 15, was accepted into the prestigious Westminster College Choir.
By her 20s, however, Jaguar was drawn to the impactfully concise musicality and direct emotionality of pop music. She found a refreshing comfort in the genre’s simplicity and discovered a cathartic creativity in singing and writing about her interior landscape. Being confessional and musical in a three-chord medium was a welcomed break from boot-camp practice sessions and the challenging technicality of classical music.
Under the spell of a new muse, Jaguar turned her back on classical music to focus solely on pop, immersing herself in contemporary songwriting, singing, producing and engineering. This mercurial musicality would be a hallmark of her career. “I get deeply engrained in a genre, and then need an extreme change to combat boredom and learn something new,” she confesses.
During her dedicated pop era, Jaguar performed throughout New York City’s venerated club venues. Ultimately, the pop scene proved to be dispiriting for Jaguar. There were a lot of “almost moments,” but the grind wore her down and she retreated back into classical music. Despite gainful employment as a musician, however, her fling with pop continued to haunt Jaguar. In 2010, she composed the song “No More Excuses,” inspired by, and using passages from Marianne Williamson's enlightening self-actualization program Letting Go and Becoming. The song was a stirring message to herself: she had to let the pop side of her out.
Slowly, Jaguar began to embrace a multi-genre personality and career, delineating what she describes as her liturgical work from her pop career through dubbing herself Jaguar Grace. That gesture gave her a feeling of separation allowing her to not be mutually exclusive in her music career. “I've created a dual musical life,” she says.
Jaguar officially kicked off this integrated era in 2017 with the single “Save The Planet,” featuring David Bowie band members Earl Slick, Sterling Campbell, and Gail Dorsey. The track was also remixed for the dance floor by Grammy Award-winner Dave Aude, Tony Bella and Mark Picchiotti.
Up next, Jaguar is working on the next installment of “Boyography Pt. ll”. Freeing the pop ghosts from her career past has been an experience rich with lessons and fertile with creativity. In closing, Jaguar quotes Maya Angelou which poetically and poignantly sums up her journey, thus far. She says: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”