It was a weekend of firsts for Orillia-born country music artist Parker Graye.
The 33-year-old singer-songwriter made her Boots and Hearts Music Festival debut, which was also her first hometown show and first festival performance.
“To have a day of firsts like that is so special,” said Graye. “Especially when it’s your hometown.”
Graye was surprised with the news of her booking by the festival’s talent booker, who set up a fake interview to capture the moment on video.
“It was a total surprise,” said Graye. “I always thought it would be amazing to play Boots – there are so many amazing artists that hit those stages, and it was at my back door growing up, so having the opportunity to perform here is everything a little girl could dream of.”
Graye, who now resides in Vancouver, splits her time between Nashville and the west coast, where she also works as a marketing consultant.
“All of the skills from my corporate life have been so transferrable for me pursuing my artist career,” said Graye. “It’s been so helpful to learn how to kind-of be your own business manager.”
While Graye’s parents have an entrepreneurial background, it was her aunt that influenced her to pursue her passion for music.
“I always knew I wanted to do music, but it wasn’t until later in life that I found my path,” she said.
Starting out in pop music, a producer suggested Graye make the move to country, and she hasn’t looked back since her 2017 debut single “Do Over”.
In a busy few years, she’s been twice-named as an iHeartRadio Future Star, been featured as an Apple Music cover artist, landed her first Canadian country radio Top 40 with her single “Good at Gettin’ Gone”, and surpassed one million streams across all singles on Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Spotify.
Graye has become recognized for her signature sad songs, which she playfully refers to as “saddies for the baddies”, and has been inspired by a melting pop of artists including female powerhouses such as Kacey Musgraves and Ellie Goulding.
Graye’s family, who still reside in Orillia, had the chance to watch her live for the first time at her Friday performance.
“I think it made it real for them,” said Graye. “I’ve been doing this for awhile, but no one’s seen me play because I’ve been away from home. Them being able to see me on stage, with people singing along to my songs – I think it really started to set in for them.”
Next up for the emerging artist is a return to Nashville, where she’ll continue writing, with the goal of releasing an album in late 2024.
“I’m going to keep writing, and I’m also really hoping to get out on the road and meet everyone that’s been listening to my music,” said Graye. “I’m excited to just keep working.”