A bluesy, roots rock specialist with a powerful voice, Grace Potter is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist (primarily Hammond B-3 and guitar) who burst onto the scene in the early 2000s both as a solo artist and with her band the Nocturnals. The group went widescreen in 2013 with their eponymous third studio album, which paired country and heartland rock with muscular Memphis-style grooves. She returned to her solo career in 2015 with the Midnight LP, which was followed by Daylight in 2019.
Born in Waitsfield, Vermont, Grace Potter grew up in a family that encouraged her artistic pursuits in areas from music to theater, the latter of which she was studying at St. Lawrence University when drummer Matt Burr heard her singing at an open-mike night in 2002 and asked if she would form a band with him. She declined, but when her high school friend and bass player Courtright Beard enrolled in their college, she reconsidered the invitation, and the three of them began to write and perform jazz-influenced songs, with Potter also taking up duties on the Hammond B-3. Soon, guitarist Scott Tournet joined, and the bandmembers, calling themselves Grace Potter & the Nocturnals — thanks to their late-night practice habits — began to think seriously about making music their careers. When Burr graduated in 2003, they decided to move back to Vermont to some land that Potter's parents owned and dedicate themselves more fully to their craft, replacing Beard (who chose to stay at school) with Bryan Dondero in the process.
In 2004 they self-released their debut, Original Soul, receiving positive response and comparisons to artists like Norah Jones and early Bonnie Raitt. This in turn garnered major-label offers, but the band preferred to build its fan base with constant touring and festival appearances. Word of their electric performances spread, and shortly after their second album, Nothing But the Water — also self-released — came out in 2005, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals signed to Hollywood Records. Their third full-length, This Is Somewhere, hit shelves nationwide in August 2007. In 2010, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals was released; Hollywood pulled out all the stops in order to break the band internationally. Over the next year-and-a-half, they toured incessantly, releasing a four-song Christmas EP, a live album in the U.K., and a digital download-only set recorded live at the Fillmore. Potter's duet with Kenny Chesney, "You and Tequila," was nominated for Single of the Year Vocal Collaboration at the American Country Awards, and the pair performed it at the CMA Awards. In June of 2012, a new studio album, The Lion the Beast the Beat, by Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, was released. Peaking at 17 on the Billboard 200, The Lion the Beast the Beat received the most attention of any Nocturnals record yet released, but Potter decided to go solo for her next album, 2015's Midnight. Produced by Eric Valentine, who also co-wrote many of the songs, the album appeared in August of 2015. She returned to the studio with Valentine in 2019 for the emotionally charged Daylight, which arrived in the wake of the official breakup of the Nocturnals, a divorce, a marriage, and the birth of her first child. 2020 saw Potter issue the moving one-off single "Eachother," which featured guest vocals from Jackson Browne, Marcus King, and Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius. ~ Marisa Brown