"Gretta defies genres with her music. With her stripped-down acoustic ballads with lush movie- quality song structures and her angelic vocals, Gretta's songs ebb and flow like an ocean using different tempos. Gretta Harley is an intelligent artist for the sake of her art"
The Early Years: I have always enjoyed a wide pallet of music: Coltrane, Xenakis, The Clash, King Crimson, Jesus Christ Superstar, Stevie Wonder...and early memories of acting out and singing to various Broadway plays on the turn table in our Long Island living room; pushing the furniture to aside and imagining myself on the big stage. My mother- a painter, and a '70s housewife- often took me into 'the city' for shows, museums, a walk in Central Park. I was taking dancing lessons at the age of 3, and starting my formal classical piano training at 8 years old. When I was a pre-teen I taught myself how to play guitar by listening to Joni Mitchel, Frank Zappa, Joan Armatrading, Pete Townsend, Jimmy Page, Rickie Lee Jones, Melanie Safka...I started writing music in the 6th grade frequently exploring alternate tunings. I began studying classical voice in high school, and entered a two-year music college earning a degree in jazz piano performance. But my love was rock and punk - a pure rawness of expression.
I played keys and guitar in pop and punk bands on Long Island and in New York City. I moved to London, England for a year to study movement theater in an attempt to make a more physical connection to music. When I returned to New York I moved to Manhattan and continued growing layers of exploration with a fair amount of ADD, I worked in the music business assisting the personal manager for Michael Brecker and other jazz artists. I co-formed a punk rock band, played at clubs such as CBGBs and Maxwells. I moved to Seattle in 1989 and formed Maxi Badd with Tess. Lotta. We changed our name to Danger Gens, signed a record deal, toured the country, and found ourselves smack dab in the middle of the madness that was the early '90s Seattle (later to be called) "grunge" scene. I had the pleasure of sharing bills with: Babes in Toyland, Giant Sand, Exene Cervenka, Laughing Hyenas, 7 Year Bitch, Hammerbox, The Gits, TAD, Love Battery, etc. while working at CZ Records, Washington Music Industry Coalition and JAMPAC. I co-founded Home Alive in 1993 with eight other women and co-produced the Epic/Sony release, Home Alive: The Art of Self-Defense, where my track, "Digging & Striking" appears. I continued to play in bands until I returned to school at Cornish College of the Arts where I earned a Bachelor of Music degree in composition; and after graduation joined the faculty where I taught for 11 years until I decided to focus on my private teaching studio.
During my first semester as a piano major at Cornish I suffered a serious overuse hand injury that left me virtually incapable of playing instruments for seven years. Over those years I found an art in patience, working with limitations and learned to write music quickly. I changed my major to composition and wrote music for injured pianists; I brought physical movement into my work; created multi-media, electronic music; and explored extended vocal possibilities, including harmonic singing (with Seattle Harmonic Voices). Immediately after graduating from Cornish College (summa cum laude, 2002), I began composing for the Cornish Theatre Department, and was soon named Resident Composer / Music Director until I joined the Cornish Music Faculty. For over a decade I composed and directed music for nearly 3 dozen plays, including with the Seattle Shakespeare Company, Wooden O, The Tribes Project, UMO Ensemble, Intiman Theatre to name a few. I continue to compose for the theatre department and plan to teach classes at Cornish occasionally, but choose to focus on my private teaching and my Mettle project.
I co-formed the band, We Are Golden in 2007 with Sarah Rudinoff. Sarah, Elizabeth Kenny and I wrote a play called These Streets about women in the grunge scene, that enjoyed a great run in Seattle and earned national attention, an award nomination, and subsequent opportunities that we are very grateful for. But mostly we are thrilled to have shone a light on the many women who helped shape a generation. (Please visit the These Streets page to learn more).
METTLE played around Seattle in 2014 and 2015, performing the new song cycle, called "Element 115 (Uup)", which was recorded and produced by KRAMER, Self- release in June of 2015.
©2015 Gretta Harley