“I tried to bury these songs in my desk drawer, and walk away from them, but it felt like there were spirits saying ‘get us out, we are not dead.’” reveals pop songstress Jaguar Grace.
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.
For singer-songwriter Jaguar Grace—born Janice Grace—something happened on the way to establishing her alter ego, namely, she realized she was losing her foundational identity. “I’m coming back to collect Janice. I felt like I had abandoned all of my work from 2000 – 2017. I had to integrate my past releases into my current persona. I’m more mature, courageous and wiser.”
Today, Jaguar embraces the full range of her musical continuum which spans the sacred to the secular, from playing organ in stone cold churches to heating up dancefloors with her smoldering pop songcraft. Fans of Janice Grace, please meet Jaguar Grace. Fans of Jaguar Grace, please meet Janice Grace. The veil is lifted.
The Janice Grace catalog has been defined by dance heavy pop gems. Since 2000, Janice Grace has released singles and performed in a variety of NYC’s most venerated venues. Marquee entries in the Janice Grace body of work include a bevy of imaginative remixes of the tracks “Geisha Girl,” “Wanna Be Beautiful,” “Frequency,” and “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.
The Jaguar Grace collection is more refined and infused by pop-rock instrumentation contributed by world-class musicians, and features shades of orchestral pop electronica. Jaguar Grace’s latest release, Boyography Pt. 1, is a playful, song cycle ode to past loves. Select tracks from the release will be paired with playfully artful videos, reflecting the songs’ ruminations of love. The 5-song EP (with additional Instrumental tracks) features all-star cameos from iconic guitarist Earl Slick who is known for his work with John Lennon and David Bowie, and trumpeter Mac Gollehon, a Jaguar sideman since 1997, who has riffed on Bowie's “Let's Dance,” and worked with pop luminaries such as Duran Duran, Mick Jagger, Chaka Khan, among others. Her song “She Fell” also boasts contributions by additional Bowie band alumni Sterling Campbell and Gerry Leonard.
Jaguar’s story arcs from how a prodigiously gifted musician becomes an esteemed church organist and choir director with a dark secret: she’s stowing away a pop artist deep inside her soul. 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 Choir College.
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 her. 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 Marianne Williamson's 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.
Today, her musical personas may shift in terms of style and lyric content with Jaguar Grace and Janice Grace releases, but her social media and Spotify presence will reflect a union of artistic spirits. Upcoming, Jaguar will continue writing and recording pop music for her label Jaguar Records, releasing catalog music from Janice Grace, and actively performing classical organ music, as the organist and choir director at a church in Upstate New York.
Up next, Jaguar is working on the next installment of “Boyography”, Pt. ll.
In closing, Jaguar has reached that personal milestone of acknowledging and accepting her complexities with bold self-reflection. “I feel like I've come full circle,” she says. “I'm still slaying some demons, but I'm ready to be that phoenix rising out of the ashes.”