Having grown up right outside Philadelphia, PA, a love for R&B comes naturally for Grace Bernicker.
In 2011, she relocated to Nashville, honing a sound that has earned her comparisons to the likes of Adele and Sara Bareilles and accolades on the local singer-songwriter circuit back in Philly in the country music capital. Bernicker has since moved back to her native area, and once again relishing in the deep soul roots of her region with a renewed sense of creativity, showcased in this gorgeous interpretation of the Rhianna hit “Stay,” which American Songwriter is happy to premiere today.
“There is something so beautiful about this song… almost a haunting vulnerability that exists within both the lyric and melody line,” Bernicker explains. “Melodically speaking it’s so simple, but at the same time so powerful. The push and pull that exists in the lyrics of ‘do I stay or do I leave.’ I think we can all relate to that as I’m sure many of us have found ourselves in similar relationships in the past. Relationships that we know we should leave, but at the same time there is a part of us that tells us to stay. I think that’s something everyone can relate to on one level or another.”
However, while she since moved back up North, Bernicker returned to Nashville to cut the song at a producer friend’s house.
“I recorded this song at my friend Matt Griffith’s home studio,” she tells American Songwriter. “We actually recorded the vocals in the mudroom of his house, as the home studio was still under renovation. This song has been really special since the beginning. A friend of ours cut the piano track & then I came in and sang the vocal on top. We were done in two or three takes. Every time I listen back to this track, I’m always amazed by the recording quality we generated in that little room.”
For Bernicker, it’s the concept of collaboration that ultimately led her back to Nashville to record “Stay”,
“I really enjoy co-writing,” admits Grace. “I first cut my teeth in Nashville as a songwriter back in 2011. That was the first time I was introduced to the concept of co-writing. It can be a bit intimidating at first, as you occasionally find yourself going into a room to write with someone you met five minutes ago. But I absolutely love being able to collaborate with others, bounce ideas off each other and come up with something that may be totally different, then if I were to just sit in a room and write out the idea. Seeing what you all end up with is a lot of fun.”
With “Stay,” Bernicker hopes her take on this new spin on a modern classic will help fans find some comfort in these fraught times.
“When people hear this track, I want them to get lost in it,” she tells American Songwriter. “I want them to stop what they are doing or not worry about the next thing on their to-do list. And for the next three minutes I want them to simply enjoy the music.”
Photo: Brad Press