Singer, songwriter, and Hammond B-3 player Grace Potter grew up in Waitsfield, Vermont, where she began playing piano at the age of seven; informed by her parents' extensive collection of some 4,000 LPs, she was gigging out locally by her late teens.
She met drummer Matt Burr at an open-mike session while both were attending St. Lawrence University in upstate New York in 2002, and the two formed Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. The band, by then a trio with the addition of Scott Tournet on guitar, recorded its homemade debut album, Original Soul, in 2004 on its own newly created Ragged Company record label. Bassist Bryan Dondero joined just as the group began tracking a second homemade effort, Nothing But the Water, which was released in 2005. The album garnered a good deal of critical acclaim, thanks to its sturdy, throwback, rootsy sound and Potter's impressive vocal work, which drew comparisons to everyone from Janis Joplin to Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams, and Bonnie Raitt. Fiercely independent and in control of their own career, Potter and the band turned down several major-label offers before signing with Hollywood Records later in 2005. Hollywood reissued Nothing But the Water for wider distribution in 2006, and in 2007, in conjunction with Ragged Company, issued This Is Somewhere, which further refined the band's classic organic sound. In 2010, after a shelved Potter solo project produced by T-Bone Burnett, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals was released. Produced by Mark Batson (Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Beyonce, and Alicia Keys), the album's more polished, sound and tighter songwriting were part of an effort by both label and group to pull out all the stops in breaking them as a charting act. The band toured incessantly, and released a live album in the U.K., a download-only live-at-the-Fillmore date, and even a Christmas EP. In the summer of 2012, they emerged with a new studio offering, The Lion the Beast the Beat. ~ Steve Leggett, Rovi