Born on June 20, 1983, in Waitsfield, Vermont, Grace Potter became the lead singer of the Nocturnals while attending St. Lawrence University. The band self-released two albums before signing with Hollywood Records, and had three full-length studio albums with the label by 2012. The group is known for the song "Paris (Ooh La La)," featuring Potter's vocals. Potter also had a hit duet with Kenny Chesney, "You and Tequila," and in 2015 released a solo album, Midnight.
A Musical Background
Grace Potter was born on June 20, 1983, in Waitsfield, Vermont. She learned to play piano from her mother and sang in school choirs, later citing musical influences that include Madonna, Michael Jackson and Kurt Cobain. Potter also performed in regional theater festivals, starring in productions like The Pirates of Penzance and Cabaret. She took part in the college-residency program Governors Institute for the Arts before attending St. Lawrence University in 2002.
Forming the Nocturnals
While in college, Potter met drummer Matt Burr at an open-mic performance and the two started to see each other romantically. Joined by bassist Courtright Beard and guitarist Scott Tournet, they would form the Nocturnals, named in honor of the late hour at which the musicians practiced. With Beard eventually replaced by Bryan Dondero, the band released its debut album Original Soul in 2004 on its own label, Ragged Company. The music scene took notice. Though approached by record label executives for potential deals, the band continued to do its own thing, touring continuously to build buzz and releasing its second album, Nothing But the Water, in 2005. Potter and the group then decided to sign with Hollywood Records and released the album This Is Somewhere in 2007, with live albums to follow.
A Racier Image
In 2010, the group, which had new members Catherine Popper and Benny Yurco, dropped a self-titled album featuring the singles "Tiny Light" and "Paris (Ooh La La)," both of which showcased Potter's passionate, powerhouse rock vocals. The album, featuring production by Mark Batson, also offered a glossier sound and racier imagery.
"Some fans defended it and some were really upset about it," Potter said in an interview with Men's Health regarding the album's sexual overtones, which she sees as full of wit and humor. "And I really want that discussion to continue, because I think it's fascinating that with a woman, that's something that everyone notices. But if Mick Jagger, Steven Tyler, Robert Plant or Rod Stewart decide to amp up their look for the night, it's not like they'll get an inbox full of complaints."
Duet With Kenny Chesney
In 2010, Potter sang on the VH1 Divas Salute the Troops performance, where she wielded her guitar in a shimmy minidress in the spirit of Tina Turner and later was joined onstage by the rock duo Heart (Ann and Nancy Wilson). The following year, Potter had a major country hit with Kenny Chesney on "You and Tequila," a ballad that ties a painful romance to the lure of alcohol. Potter and the band also started the Grand Point North Festival, a Vermont-based musical event that featured local acts.
2012 would be a momentous year as well. Potter and the Nocturnals would be invited by Chesney to perform as the opening act on the massive Brothers of the Sun tour, which found them playing to traditional country audiences in stadium settings. And in June, the group was featured in its own VH1 Storytellers program.
The same month, the band released its fifth full-length studio album, The Lion The Beast The Beat, with Potter's authoritative delivery leading a set of songs more diverse in scope than its predecessors. The tracks were recorded across the United States, with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and Potter herself handling production duties.
Personal Life and Solo Album
In May 2013, unbeknownst to the general public, Potter married Nocturnal drummer Burr in the Caribbean. Then in 2015, Potter released a solo album, Midnight, featuring contributions from her band mates and production from Eric Valentine.
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