HOMETOWN: Wauwatosa, Wisc.
INFLUENCES: Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan
ALBUM: The Refinery, due October 2014

Growing up in the Milwaukee suburbs, young Grace Weber drew musical inspiration from a somewhat unlikely source. “When I was 12, I joined a gospel choir in the inner city and discovered this amazing soul scene,” she says. In 2006, Weber earned the prestigious Presidential Scholar in the Arts award and met President George W. Bush at the White House. An even bigger opportunity arrived four years later when she appeared on the final season of The Oprah Winfrey Show after winning a nationwide YouTube video competition. “I posted mine and forgot about it—and then a camera crew surprised me,” she says. “They flew me to Chicago—and I was backstage, so nervous, and I heard Oprah call my name in that unmistakable voice. It was surreal.” Now living in New York, Weber recently completed her new album, The Refinery, featuring 11 retro-soul tracks with a modern rock edge.

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