Photo by Fred Pollard
Tia McGraff and husband/musical partner Tommy Parham have left Nashville behind, gaining inspiration from the serenity of Canada and infusing it into McGraff’s latest CD, “Break These Chains.”
Just as Canadian folk artist Tia McGraff and musical partner Tommy Parham are united in marriage, the music they create together is so intricately entwined, it becomes a marriage as well.
“Together, Tommy and I have created a unique sound,” McGraff said. “We say we really can’t do without each other; we each bring our own thing to the table and it creates something altogether different.”
McGraff and Parham (originally from Vandalia, Ill.) were traveling through the Alton area recently to attend Parham’s son’s wedding in Alton and spent some time talking with AdVantage News about their new release and what is next on the horizon.
Curled up in a chair in front of the fireplace, McGraff waxed nostalgic on meeting the man who helped shape the sound that most closely reflects her heart.
“We met in Nashville in 1999,” she said. “I had just moved there from Canada, and Tommy had moved from L.A. to pursue a songwriting career.
“I had released a couple of CDs, and had some videos played on CMT, but I decided I wanted to take a break from performing and focus on my songwriting. I met Tommy through his publisher, who said he thought we should write together.”
McGraff’s new CD, “Break These Chains,” released August of last year, sees the couple embarking on a new beginning, and has been well-received among fans and critics alike. It is at once classic and modern, earthy and lilting, reflective and inspirational.
The folksy arrangements and style were intentional.
“When I first started singing, I won a country singing contest in Canada,” she said. “That opened doors in country music for me, but I have always been drawn to singers like Barbra Streisand and Linda Ronstadt. I kind of got thrown into the country music world, and yet I never really felt that I fit.”
That progression is reflected in McGraff’s musical history, as her first CD (1997’s “Small Town Life”) is dominated by a country flavor while “Break These Chains” (her sixth release) explores the singer-songwriter genre, evoking Emmylou Harris right down to the snakeskin boots.
“I get compared to Gordon Lightfoot, and when you are talking about people from Canada, that is a huge compliment and very flattering,” she says. “When you listen to a lot of today’s pop, it’s very acoustic-based and folksy. I think everything comes full circle.”
“Once we figured out our direction, we just went after it with a vengeance, and it is paying off,” Parham added. “The industry is always changing; hitting a moving target is just too hard. You just have to stay true to what you do and trust the timing.”
After leaving both Nashville and its restraints behind, McGraff returned to Canada, now with husband in tow, drawing inspiration from the serenity and tranquility of Lake Erie.
“It is a great place to live,” Parham says with a wistful smile. “When you are done touring, it is a sanctuary.”
Check out Tia's new music video here!
And for the couple, touring throughout Canada, Europe, and the United States has become a family event…sort of.
“The cat stays home with grandma, but the dog loves to travel with us,” McGraff says, laughing. “He knows he is going to get treated to Chicken McNuggets and cheeseburgers. He really is the party dog.”
To learn more about Tia’s music, visit the website at www.tiamcgraff.com.