Home base: Charleston, S.C.
Musical beginnings: “I started playing music when I was 4 years old. My brother used to play piano, and I would watch him practice. Then one day I was in the car with my mom and she put on a tape of Little Richard playing ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider,’ and that was it for me. I started writing my own songs when I was in high school. I wrote a piano piece for the talent show, and I was so nervous about it that afterwards I ran off stage. After that, I wrote songs with my brother’s rock band, which I had been in since eighth grade, and for my own rock band, which I formed during my junior year of high school. That year, we won the battle of the bands and recorded a CD at QDivision Studios in Boston, Mass.”
Musical influences: “My biggest influence has always been my brother, Andrew. We have played music together since we were little kids, and he always has been pushing me to further my music. Also, all of the music teachers at the College have been huge influences on my musical life. When I first came to the College, I didn’t know how to read music or play chord changes. I only played the blues, and they really opened my eyes up to jazz.”
9 to 5: “I teach music classes at Christ Our King Stella Maris in Mt. Pleasant, and also teach private piano lessons.”
Behind the song: “I sat down at the piano and came up with a simplistic melody, and thought of ways to harmonize it.
“I named it ‘Dedication’ because it’s dedicated to the jazz faculty at the College, who helped me immensely. Also it’s named ‘Dedication’ because of something my piano instructor Tommy Gill ’93 always told me: ‘You only get out of it what you put into it.’
“All of the faculty inspired me to be as dedicated as I could be as a musician, and they always showed that by example. Each week I’d have a piano lesson or a combo rehearsal, and afterwards, I could go hear my professors play gigs around town and sometimes they would try and play the things they told me to work on, to show what they meant. It was very humbling and inspiring. They were always trying to find new musicality in their own playing. I remember so many times where I went with my friends to hear my teachers perform, and afterwards we would go to the practice rooms and practice together.”
The making of the song: “It was recorded at my apartment, with Ben Wells ’07 on bass and Stuart White ’08 on drums. Ben used his recording equipment to make it happen. I can’t thank those two musicians enough. They also performed on my original album, Inner Preservation, which was released this year. They have helped me tremendously, since we played together in school, to now making recordings together.”
Musical highlights: “Recording my debut original album, Inner Preservation, and having my brother, Andrew, play guitar on two of the tracks.”
Check out more music by Jordan Gravel.
Listen to all of the songs on The Soundtrack.
– Photos by Sully Sullivan