By Bailey Blaker
Award-winning singer-songwriter Grace Fuisz ’19 merges the personal with the ethereal in the bare-boned and haunting melodies she plays on piano, guitar and ukulele.
Fuisz started piano lessons at age five and has been writing songs in one form or another ever since. She was rewarded for her efforts when her song “Inishbofin” — about her imaginary boyfriend Hunter, and named after a small island off the coast of Ireland — won the American Songwriting Awards in the teen category in 2014.
Fuisz believes the recognition acted as a benchmark for her success as a musician. “It was very exciting for me to win because I felt like this was some kind of proof that I was actually making music,” she said.
Since coming to campus, Fuisz has made a point of immersing herself in the music scene, including learning how to produce music in the WKCO recording studio. Teddy Farkas ’16, co-manager of WKCO, has helped Fuisz mix and edit her tracks. “She’s really enthusiastic about music and about recording music,” he said. “It’s really great to see that because it has become increasingly difficult at Kenyon to break out and say, ‘I’m going to be involved in music.’”
Fuisz is a member of the Chasers and has her own radio show on WKCO called “Market Snax with Grace Fuisz,” which airs every Tuesday at noon.
Lauren Michael ’17, Fuisz’s community advisor and one-time guest on “Market Snax,” has experienced the musician’s creative drive first-hand. “Her songwriting is very complex, but she’s also talking about very simple ideas a lot of the time, and I think that that’s not a super easy thing to achieve,” Michael said.
Fuisz has opened for several performers at the Horn Gallery throughout the year, including Eskimeaux in October and bands Florist and Shya on Feb. 27.
Watching Fuisz perform is an intimate and endearing experience. She took the stage on Saturday with an air of familiarity. The spotlight glinted off her acoustic guitar as she began plucking the first chords of “Inishbofin.” Fuisz’s voice is clear as a bell and her sweetly sung lyrics — “you miss the weather, but it’s cold out there” — were fitting and warmed the cold air coming through the open doors of the Horn.
Using the everyday as inspiration for her lyrics, Fuisz was able to take specific moments, like the struggle of connecting with strangers in “Stay Away” or the frenzied emotions associated with speaking to a crush at a Halloween party in “Halloween,” and turn them into universal motifs that speak to anyone.
Her latest album, Whatever!, is available for streaming on her Bandcamp.