June 8, 2017

Singer GRiZ Comes OUT Gay

By Ken Haddad , Alex Atwell - Photojournalist

A budding Michigan music star penned a blog this week, opening up about his struggle with sexuality.

GRiZ, a 26-year-old musician from Southfield, posted the blog in Huffington Post this week, coming out as gay for the first time. 

My family and my friends call me Grant, others know me as GRiZ. I’m a DJ, producer, saxophonist, song writer, performer, yoga lover, weed smoker, clothing designer, record label owner, 90s music lover, a horrible, horrible singer...and I am gay.

GRiZ talked about trying to fit in at school - he attended Groves High School and Michigan State University.

There was so much pressure to fit in, I tried to force myself to be like everyone else. The last thing any teen wants is to be “uncool.”

For me, it was college when things started to turn around. I found a small group of gay friends and with their help, combined with newly found courage, I was able to feel more comfortable with who I was. I had to tell myself, “Grant, you’re just gonna be who you are. You’re a super rad dude and people are gonna love you either way. If they don’t then they weren’t actually your friends in the first place.”

Last month, we told you about his project to bring music back to Detroit Public Schools. Read about that below:

GRiZ, a fast rising 26-year-old electronic music artist, is partnering with his Detroit based label All Good Records to help bring music programs to Detroit Public Schools.

GRiZ went to Birmingham Groves and started making music at Michigan State University. He plays saxophone and other instruments.

The artist says Detroit has had a big impact on his career. 

"Some of the first shows I saw were in downtown Detroit. I was really inspired by the energy of the room and the interaction between the people and the performers. Also the history of music here... it's kind of hard to escape in a way… Not like in a bad way you know because Motown music to me is such a place of original inspiration. The textures and the sounds, the vibrations of the vocalists and then the instrumentation. The beat, that is what rocks in my soul. Even more than that, as far as Detroit being an inspiration, people here have a sense of resilience about them and I feel like that rubbed off on me."

Little Kids Rock announced a new partnership with GRiZ and his Detroit based label All Good Records, which will begin offering services to children at more than 15 Detroit schools this year.

The launch begins with a free, teacher focused workshop that will take place from at 9:00 am - 5:00 pm on Saturday, April 29th at Detroit Symphony Orchestra (3711 Woodward Ave). In the coming months, hundreds of students will receive free guitars, keyboards, drums, and musical training as a result of the workshop.

"This group of teachers who have donated their time to get educated so that they can then spread that message and that inspiration with a classroom full of kids. Little Kids Rock is a program that we saw as super organized. We were trying to work with a program that would be able to actually do something. That could make that difference. We want to provide this musical experience for kids. That partnership for us just seemed like a no-brainer. Initially we didn't just want to donate money to a national charity. The main purpose of this is to change my community," said GRiZ.

"Kids are our future, that's everything to me. Without them we don't have the new music, we don't have the new vibe. These kids are going to be speaking to the souls of the next generation. We're here to hopefully help that."

The expansion into Detroit and the state of Michigan at large was made possible in part by the generous donations and efforts of GRiZ and All Good Records.  Teachers will learn how to properly instruct their students on the popular musical styles of the past 60 years, from rock and reggae to Latin and R&B, amongst other genres. 

The workshop will not only provide teachers with the knowledge and resources to instruct their students but hundreds of instruments to get their students jamming on day one as well. The teaching methods focus on improvisation, composition, and getting kids to play right off the bat - apart of burgeoning national movement known as Modern Band, complementing existing music electives such as jazz band, choral ensembles, marching band, and orchestra. 

"It would just be such a shame to see kids lose out on the opportunity to be able to do something that might change their lives through the arts. Give these kids a chance to do something that might inspire them and change their path."

How did you get started playing the saxophone on stage?

"Playing the saxophone within the live performance started at Michigan State. I was playing my own beats and I wanted to take it to the next level. I had this saxophone that I had been playing all throughout high school. I feel like the saxophone always gave me more of a voice on stage because I'm not a singer. With my breath and being able to play these notes I feel like I can connect with the music and I can connect with people. I feel like I can show them a piece of my spirit."

How important is music to you and your life?

"Damn man, I mean music is everything to me. It's saved my life really. I don't know that in college I was necessarily doing super well. I was like super lost. Even in middle school and high school I had a personal identity crisis and I was trying to figure out who I was. I thank God that I was given this creative outlet, this intangible soul force that I could tap into and that was music. Music was the thing that would drive my everyday life and my purpose in the universe."

Why is it important to give back?

"Because I was given so much buy my community. I want to be able to share that back with the community that built me and supported me all throughout my life."

Do you feel you have any added soul or Funk you've gotten from Detroit that you've put in your music?

"Detroit's a funky place. So yeah definitely. There's so much good music coming out of Detroit right now. I feel so inspired by my peers. You have guys like Big Sean and Danny Brown...even like Mike Posner went to the same school as me and he's just out there killing it. It's like there is something in the water, there's so much musical inspiration coming out of Detroit and the suburbs, it blows my mind."

What is it like being on stage and performing in front of thousands of fans?

"It's crazy, it's like a blessing. Sometimes you can really tap into it. It's like that holy moment idea where if you really absorb yourself in the moment I feel like I could cry at any moment because of how much gratitude I have just for the experience of life itself. It's so beautiful. Think of all those people sharing that moment with you is the kind of conductor is so powerful. It's also a huge responsibility so we always try to spread something of positivity, a positive message to these kids."

How cool was it to see teachers being taught?

"Yeah, it's trippy you know. I love watching people who do a professional learn about their profession. I think it's so interesting. The way that a teacher would consume information. They're so inspired and they seem ready. They're there for a purpose and I think that that purpose is divine in a way. Music is this divine thing that you get to share with people."

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