We have known her for about 10 years as a natural born jazz influenced soul singer with wide vocal range, good controled perfect pitch. She tried several possibilities, she had some years of difficulties. But finally, at the end of 2015 we heard great news from her, that she is so ready to enter the new, brighter chapter, as a recording artist. She keeps us updated with the progress, and now the album is finally available in the market. She is Grace Sahertian, and her long awaited album is titled “HELA”.
Before we get down to see what the album is about, let’s get to know her deeper. She began her music career as the vocalist of Palm from Moodytunes which is spanned from 2006 to 2009. A year after that she dipped herself into a duo project, Grace & Tesla resulting one EP with thick world music nuance. Interestingly, at the same year she also joined the indie neo-soul group Cirlce O’Fifth and recorded two songs. One of the song “Honestunes” managed to enter the Indie Top Chart in Bandung. This song also created one nice quote from her that we still remember until now: “music always leads me to magic, music keeps me away from tragic.”
From there, she carried on by becoming a member of Margo Rising Stars which brought her to perform at the Java Jazz Festival from 2010 to 2014, playing with Benny Likumahuwa Jazz Connection at Ambon Jazz Festival. Other than these activities, she serves at a church along with Venche Manuhutu and son, David Manuhutu. She decided to pursue her solo career in 2011, but still she spent her time to support her friends, such as The Milo, Andezzz and the ladies band Starlite in 2014. She also collaborated with Iwan Fals in Konser Suara Untuk Negeri. Been there, done that. But at one point, Grace realized that she has to do something to make her dream come true. She has full authority to listen to her heart, in total control to pour out her feelings and anything that she has in mind. This album is the actualization of it all.
Speaking of her gift, she is a top-notch soul singer. The way she sings seems to have an endless strain of bright illumination. She doesn’t just sing but breathes soul into the song, letting them out from her heart, taking her audience/listener into serene and giving an enormous vibe of huge glimpse of what she felt through her music. Whether in soulful, chill, deep and gracious music or groovy, upbeat ones, she always does it sincere, honest and down to earth. She is a humble person who never forgets her friends and family, also someone who is deeply connected to the universe.
Not just in music, Grace has fine art in her blood too, as she is also a fiber artist. This thick artistic DNA printed in her seems to push her to explore further, influencing each step she is taking in her music career. She becomes an artist who care much about details, she takes process seriously, she has wide imagination and know how to express her feelings into something real. That is why her works always speak loud about many thing. You can feel them as a result of long process with such depth that not only could describe who she is as a person but also what she has inside her heart and mind. From a pop soulful jazz she embraced world music, then urban music. Looking at the pattern of the path she takes, one could take a guess that she wouldn’t go that easy. During 2013 to 2014 she spent most of her time to find her musical identity and write songs. After three years, finally the result is finished as an artistic product, a debut album called “HELA” under Demajors.
Grace used this album as a vehicle to share many things of herself. Other than using it as a media to tell her life story, uniquely she also uses this album to ‘tracing back the roots’. With “HELA” Grace traces back the long history of her family name, Sahertian which came from Negeri Porto (the land of Porto), located in the province of Maluku, Saparua district. Grace seriously digged her roots, so serious that she even wrote the title track “HELA” using the Yamdena language, spoken in the western southeast of Maluku. This language is more than 200 years old and right now is nearly extinct.
Other than this interesting title track, the album reflects the ‘fragile’ side of Grace. The songs speaks about the life process, from the moments of sadness, anger, desperation, contemplation, until finally she came to a point where she had to stand up and keep moving. What’s also interesting is that she used mood board (a board with some photos on it) that became her point of references in creating and singing them. Having these guidelines allowed her to pour her emotion much deeper. “You could say that my music in this album is more progressive, explorative and telling. The music in each song works as an illustration of the story, and there can be some different parts describing the mood and lyrics,” says Grace.
The process of recording took around 3 months. Acting as the producer is Tesla Manaf, a stunning young Bandung-based guitarist who currently enjoys his international reputation through USA label, MoonJune Records. To us, Grace stated her satisfaction of having Tesla as her music producer. “Finally I found the perfect one. I am happy to have Tesla because seems to me he is the one who understands me the most.” says Grace to us.
Other than Tesla, Grace is supported by amazing ensemble of all-star casts. Ari ‘Aru’ Renaldi helped her in mixing and mastering plus her friends including Iwan Popo (keys), Rudy ‘Aru’ Zulkarnaen (bass), Topan Abimanyu and Ginda Bestari (guitars), Edward Manurung and Desal Sembada (drums), Brury Effendi (trumpet), Bejo (cello), Hadis ‘Hulhul’ Hendarisman (saluang/West Sumatra bamboo flute) and Zaki ‘4 Peniti’ (chant). For the backing vocals, Grace got Theoresia Rumthe, Eka Karya, Ayub Jonn, Puspallia Panggabean and Johanes Fayakun. Having such strong team like this enabled Grace to go into her feeling as deep as she could, search what she really wanted to do and how to bring it alive.
The album opens up with the goosebumping “Hela”. Starting with a Gregorian chant-like, the song progresses to open a multi-dimensional door through time and space, exploring back the roots gloriously in Yamdena language. “Come on, row the boat to the center of the sea, don’t be afraid to the waves, don’t be afraid to the thunderous storm, keep rowing until we reach the opposite land.” That’s the translation of the lyrics. The haunting song is carried on with Grace’s punch of “Freedom” which captures the feeling of recollection, repression, pain, unfairness, being chained until a shout of hope. This song is served in gospel blues (wonderful play by bluesman Ginda Bestari) and a splash of provokative experimental approach near the end. The soulful gospel blues still shines on in the third song “Better to Love” but much cheerful and sweeter in the spirit of Motown sound.
Grace goes chilling on the next track where jazz plays the role, “Picture Me”. Brury Effendy’s trumpet sound lifts the song even more, taking your breath away especially if you listen to it late at night. The emotional ballad “Fallin'” reminds us of how Sarah McLachlan did throughout 90’s. Bejo’s cello sound got quite dominant role in this one.
The combination of nu metal/alternative rock and hiphop like how Linkin Park became famous with actually works very well too with Grace’s soulful voice. In this track Tesla and Topan go rocking. Edward Manurung’s drum punches are strong, plus the vinyl scratch by DJ Abo is just awesome.
Then comes the single carrier which is served totally acapella: “Diam”. This song reflects what Grace experienced through her career. “I listened to what people said too much. It took me to nowhere. So then I decided to stop. I chose to rest mysel in silence, spent my time to contemplate, went into deep reflective thoughts until I finally found what I really wanted.” she says.
There’s only one more music from Grace’s career that we haven’t found just yet, the world music which she is also passionate about. Well, the last track “Sun of Hope” serves this side of Grace in glorious way. The traditional bamboo flute from West Sumatra (saluang) played by Hulhul would catch your attention right from the start, and the chanting voice of Zaki Peniti is totally captivating. Listening to this song is like being taken in a journey into a dark, vast rainforest far deep down in Africa. We believe this song is also her attempt to get connected to earth and its beautiful nature, probably to the universe too.
For us who have been following her steps since the beginning, we are really proud of HELA. This is like a door to get to know her as a person, her wish, dream, feeling and thoughts. On the surface you might see an album served with many musical flavors, but actually everything in this album are related to the first 10 years of her career. So, other than exposing her true-self, this album also captures the road she’s been taking up until now. A poetic album with lots of stories in each chapter, artistic compositions perfectly executed, rich in variation but all connected, what a way to make a debut album. With HELA, Grace is opening herself and inviting you to know her and her artistic minds. Once a star in the making, now she is more than ready to shine up there.
Don’t Miss HELA – Tracing Back the Roots Concert!
Prior to the launching of this album, Grace Sahertian is inviting you all to celebrate it together through a special concert: HELA – Tracing Back the Roots. In this concert Grace will sing all songs from the album. Supporting her are Tesla Manaf (music director), Rayhan Sudrajat (guitar), Gantira Sena (drums), Omega Touselak (keys & synth bass), Faishal (keys & synth bass), Mega Ariani (Cello), Theoresia Rumthe, Puspallia Panggabean, Eka Karya, Ayub jonn, Johanes Fayakun (vocals) and Gracia Tobing (visual & multimedia). As the opening, Grace features a lethal blues guitarist who has just also released an album, Ginda Bestari. As mentioned above, Ginda filled one track in the album, “Freedom”.
The concert will be held on 14 May 2016, starting 7:00 pm at Auditorium IFI, Jl. Purnawarman no 32, Bandung.
Ticket price are:
IDR 50K (on spot) and IDR 35K (presale).
The ticket box are at IFI BAndung and Omuniuum.
Do come and enjoy the songs from the album live, then secure one for you. Let’s congratulate and wish her the best by coming to this special event.
Better to Love
Da Di De
Sun of Hope
The album will be available soon on our online store (http://store.jazzuality.com)
Visit Grace Sahertian’s official website: http://gracesahertian.com
Follow her social medias: @gracesahertian @graceMusicID
Written by: Riandy Kurniawan
Photos are taken from our collection and Dani Huda (provided by Bagus Nugroho)