We’re honored that our “10 Questions” Interview this month is with singer/songwriters Cecilia and Tessa Sugerman, otherwise known as Cecilia Grace. Cecilia, a Baltimore American idol winner, and her sister Tessa write and perform live from here to Nashville. With a busy YouTube page promoting originals as well as a wide array of covers these ladies are making a mark. We sat down with Cecilia to discuss her take on songwriting.
1. Tell us about your musical background, how you got into songwriting, and any current projects you have now.
I grew up in a very musical household, constantly listening to show tunes, classics, and my parents’ favorite music. When I was about 12 years old, I was inspired to start writing songs. With the melodies down, I realized I needed to learn guitar to accompany myself. So I started singing and playing my favorite songs and my own original songs along with my older brother, Benzi. Inspired by all the fun, our little sister, Tessa, picked up the guitar and the knack for songwriting, and we all played together. So we became sort of a family band, uploading singing videos to YouTube and creating a decent following for ourselves. Eventually, we were able to frequently play out at open mic nights around town and thoroughly enjoyed performing for people and the experience it brought us. Ever since, we have made a home on the stage and play at every opportunity we find. We’ve played all over the country— from Sacramento, to Nashville, to Fort Lauderdale, to Boston, and of course, to our home town of Baltimore. However, we have an international following, one of our biggest being in the Philippines, where we had an opportunity to play several shows this past summer. Our current project is working on some new songs to record with Stephen Antonelli. We’re also doing a lot of song writing!
2. What influences you as a songwriter?My biggest influence is other music. When I hear songs that make me feel something, they inspire me to write so that others can feel that same way.
3. What do you think about the current state of the music industry?
I think there is a lot of really great music out there right now, and though many may disagree with me, I think a lot of that is in the pop genre. Today’s pop is being influenced by 70s disco and 80s pop, which makes for some really fun jams! However, I wish that more singers wrote their own songs— songwriting is what makes a person stand out!
4. Who are some of your favorite songwriters right now?
I’m in love with the writing of Tori Kelly. Her stuff is so down-to-earth and real; she inspires me to be more genuine. I also think that Ed Sheeran and Adam Levine are fantastic song writers.
5. Have you ever worked with another songwriter or a team of songwriters? If so, how did it go?
The only other person I’ve ever written with is my sister, Tessa. She usually inputs more of the awesome instrumental part and I’m all about lyrics. It’s definitely different two write with someone else, but writing with her allows me to step out of my comfort zone a little bit.
6. If not, would you be open to it?
I would totally be open to writing with other songwriters! I like to see how people think—it’s humbling.
7. Do you think it would be beneficial to have an unbiased team of songwriters in the studio with you while you record music?
That is an interesting thought! Yes—that would be very helpful to me because people who don’t know me as well are more likely to help me think about what sounds best, rather than what I’m comfortable with.
8. What’s the most unique location you’ve ever written a song?
To be honest….I have written some of my best songs in the shower. I just start singing whatever I’m thinking about, then I write it down when I get out! I also write a lot of songs when I’m just going about my business at work. But I work at a shoe store, so it’s still a pretty random place to write!
9. What’s it like working with a sibling? Do you think it’s easier or more difficult?
Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s difficult! The good thing is, we really get each other. The bad thing is, we really get each other! We can get along and click so much better than any two given people can, but we also really know how to get under each other’s skin—It’s a whole lot of fun.
10. What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?
There’s this amazing country band that my family loves called Eden’s Edge. They came to the Recher in Towson about 2 years ago, and it was a fantastic show with two great openers, Mike McFadden and Striking Matches. All did a great job of connecting with the audience and showcasing their original music! Unfortunately, the Recher is gone and Eden’s Edge has since broken up, but it was a show I’ll never forget and will always try to emulate.
Thanks to Cecelia for the interview. Wishing you much success with your music and career in this crazy business we all know and love.
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