Josh Gracin has a diverse and impressive set of skills. The most obvious is the voice that captured the attention of millions of American Idol fans during his season two run on what has become an American cultural phenomenon. His all-American good looks, earnest charm and passionate vocal style earned him a devoted legion of fans, but beyond the stage, Gracin possesses a poets heart and an ex-Marines discipline and work ethic. Its that potent combination of talent and tenacity that set Gracin apart and is fueling the newest chapter in his career.
"I want to sing. I want to write. I want to produce. I want to put myself on the chopping block," says Gracin.
Having always had an independent streak, his artistic spirit has served him well. As a child, he listened to and sang Rhythm & Blues, Motown and oldies, then as a teen, leaned towards the country and rock genres. In his latest record, Redemption, released on November 8, 2011 on Average Joes Entertainment, Gracin pulls influence from his full history in music to portray his most honest and true album to-date.
The Michigan natives journey into the public eye began when he auditioned for American Idol (placing fourth on season two) while serving in the Marine Corps. Following his run on Idol and the completion of his military service, he signed with Lyric Street Records and released his self-titled debut album in June 2004. The album was RIAA-certified gold and spawned three top five singles"I Want to Live," "Stay With Me (Brass Bed)," and the No. 1 hit "Nothin to Lose."
Gracins highly-anticipated sophomore effort, We Werent Crazy, was released in 2008 and delivered title track, "We Werent Crazy," the ballad "Unbelievable (Ann Marie)," written solely by Gracin about his wife, and fan favorite "Favorite State of Mind." Gracin has lent his vocals to The Disney Songbook on "When I See An Elephant Fly" with Jim Brickman and the soundtrack to Herbie: Fully Loaded on "Working for the Weekend."
Around the time of the demise of Lyric Street, Gracin found himself gravitating toward a new direction one that led to him signing with indie label, Average Joes Entertainment, label home to Colt Ford, Corey Smith, and Montgomery Gentry. Since signing with AJE, Gracin began working with acclaimed producer and CEO of Average Joes, Shannon Houchins, as well as continuing work with longtime musical collaborator and percussionist, Kevin Murphy. The result is a record combining substantive lyrics about the realities of every day life with the soulful vocal style that has always been at the heart of Gracins artistry: Redemption.
"Kevin comes from a rock background, so hes able to bring in that influence, which I love," Gracin shares. "Weve worked together for almost four years, so weve had the time to figure out how to extract the best material from within ourselves when were together in the studio or sit down to craft a song."
Sonically, Gracins new project has a very fresh, unique sound. "We aimed to paint that picture and give it a feel that everything is in the room with you," he says of the album, which he recorded with his touring band. "I love those guys and I love having them on the record. The band was able to live with the songs and also given the artistic freedom to bring in their interpretation to the music."
All songs on the album are identifiable slices of life that listeners can readily embrace, including family life, lost love, and romance. Gracins favorite out of the collection is the poignant ballad "Enough." "Writing this song felt like a turning point artistically. I was better able to take what was going on in my head and get it onto paper in a way I feel is relatable to so many."
A late addition to the album is "Cant Say Goodbye." This touching track was penned by Gracin and Seana Arrechaga and was based on Seanas personal struggle with losing her husband, SFC Ofren Arrechaga, after wounds suffered during a firefight in Afghanistan. Written specifically for the SEARS Heroes at Home initiative, the song brilliantly captures the grief and passion Seana described while honoring the memory of not only her husband, but all lost loved ones.
The 17-track album reveals a raw, vocal prowess while showcasing Gracins innate talents as a writer, producer and artist. From his childhood days growing up in Michigan to now being a father of four, Josh Gracin may have finally found his own Redemption with this release.