Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Mariah Carey gave viewers across the nation a…
- Posted on Jul 7th 2009 4:00PM by David Chiu
Like her life story, Grimm's music is just as unpredictable. Her 2008 album 'Parplar' draws on various musical styles such as folk, blues, Middle Eastern and Indian yet there is also an underlying influence of Appalachia. "I grew up with the Appalachian and bluegrass tradition," she says. "Most folk music is kind of the same. All of these things, to me, are related coming from this Appalachian music."
She also believes there is a connection between spirituality, folk music and pop culture. "I see folk music as being something that comes organically out of people," she says. "It's an expression of whatever their situation is, whether it's hardship, joy or excitement. It's a very honest manifestation of their dreams, desire and hopes for escape from whatever hardship they got around them."
The spiritual essence of her music could be traced back to Grimm's family background. She was born to parents who were once members of a Tennessee religious commune -- some would say a cult -- called the Holy Religious Order of MANS. Grimm, who spent her childhood in the Order, recalls it as a spiritual community. "Then the government started getting scared," she says. "Jonestown happened [in 1978]. After all those people and children had killed themselves, the government had a very good reason to go after the other spiritual communes and basically destroyed that culture."
The family moved to Georgia after leaving the commune and later, through a scholarship, Grimm attended Yale University where she studied architecture alongside Barbara Bush, daughter of former President George W. Bush ("I helped her with her homework a lot," Grimm recalls). She then left Yale because of what she saw as the university's elitist culture. "I didn't want them to put their mark on me," she explains. "I didn't want to have that safety net."
She then traveled to Thailand where her friends from Yale were doing research for a documentary on sex trafficking. "I was very interested in Buddhism and had been wanting to go to Thailand anyway," Grimm says. "I was studying their traditional form of the massage that is an energy-healing massage. That was the only form of medicine they had."
After spending time in Guatemala and Alaska, she returned to Yale and met Dave Longstreth of the Dirty Projectors. "A lot of the things he does now, he tried them out on me first," Grimm says. "He tried to teach me how to sing these parts and I introduced him to a lot of music. We don't have a romantic relationship anymore but I'm so proud of him. It's just wonderful to see the development of someone's ideas and ambitions."
Grimm is scheduled to play a few New York and Boston shows this summer and is already working on new music, which she hopes to record in an analog studio. "You just can't stop," she says. "There's always a hunger for the next level. I'm hoping to make a better record."