Student, singer-songwriter and soccer player shoots for the stars

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There is a star rising out of East County and she is redefining the hustle.

A regular at House of Blues, Pizza de la Familia in Little Italy and Belmont Park’s family nights, 16-year-old Mt. Helix resident Marissa Grace McRoberts is part of the county’s budding local music scene.

Known by her stage name, Marissa Grace, the singer-songwriter is a sophomore at Academy of Our Lady of Peace where Grace rocks a 4.17 GPA. She plays soccer as well, but her biggest score this year has been dropping her first EP on iTunes and Spotify.

There is a star rising out of East County and she is redefining the hustle.

A regular at House of Blues, Pizza de la Familia in Little Italy and Belmont Park’s family nights, 16-year-old Mt. Helix resident Marissa Grace McRoberts is part of the county’s budding local music scene.

Known by her stage name, Marissa Grace, the singer-songwriter is a sophomore at Academy of Our Lady of Peace where Grace rocks a 4.17 GPA. She plays soccer as well, but her biggest score this year has been dropping her first EP on iTunes and Spotify.

“I’ve written all my songs so this is the first project I’ve created where it’s all my original music being published into the world,” said Grace. “It’s something that I’m proud of and I hope people are enjoying it.”

Drawing her inspirations from legends like The Beatles and Stevie Wonder and modern voices like Shawn Mendez and Tori Kelly, Grace said her music is a mainly pop with traces of everything but the kitchen sink.

“You’ll also hear a little reggae, R&B, Blues and kinda jazz,” she said. “I was very scared releasing this because I wasn’t sure if people were going to like it. It’s something new and I think it’s something no one’s really heard before. I’m so grateful that people seem to like it.”

Grace said she wrote all of the lyrics herself last year and over the summer before hitting the recording studio with her producer, Josquin des Pres.

The studio is a haven, she said.

“It’s a place where I can be myself and be creative and try new things,” said Grace. “It’s a space where I don’t have to be afraid of trying new things. I learn a lot being in there with him and the engineers in there, seeing them do their music magic.”

Eventually, Grace said, she wants to make magic of her own.

“I want to travel the world and see the world,” she said. “I want people to hear my music, but even more than that, I want them to be inspired the message I have to share.”

Grace’s music is heartfelt and genuine, tackling teen issues like body image, romance and ambitions with a refreshingly hopeful voice. Her song “Journey” was inspired by a friend’s own struggle with weight and eating disorders, said Grace.

“I only write about things that are significant in my life or are really grab my attention because when I write about things that are significant to me,” she said. “It produces the most passionate lyrics and melodies and chord progressions.”

Grace is a joy to listen to, with the young and hopeful themes of the “Old Taylor” Swift but the deep, lush tones of Patti Page.

Grace said her official journey in music began at age eight when she started singing lessons, but the starlette has grown up in music. Her father, Charlie McRoberts, a retired military pilot, plays guitar, and her mother, Maria McRoberts, sings and plays piano and violin.

Maria McRoberts is also Grace’s momager, taking care of balancing Grace’s incredibly busy school schedule with community shows.

“You have to be careful when you choose the events to go to,” said McRoberts. “She’s in a position now, two and a half years later, where she can pick and choose where she wants to perform.”

Grace also has a manager in Los Angeles who has been sending her to auditions. Grace said she has been taking acting gigs on the side to broaden her horizons, including a bit with Nickelodeon and a commercial with El Monte RV.

The line to get to the national stage is a long one, though, and Grace said she is well aware of the competition.

“There are so many artists right now who are 16,” she said. “It makes me feel like the industry is even more competitive at this age, which is scary but it’s also so cool to see that there are other people who are the same age as me, doing the same thing as me, who have the same passion as me.”

Grace said she can only benefit from the other talent.

“I think it’s really cool because we can all learn from each other,” she said. “I’ve grown as an artist just listening. It’s so cool to see all these young artists come together and do what they love.”

But the road to fame does not wind through the easy life. Grace said she often has back-to-back shows, album promotions and soccer games.

“It’s crazy but it’s so worth it because I’m having fun,” she said. “I get to do so much that some other kids my age don’t get to experience and I feel so blessed that at my age I get to do so much.”

When not everything will fit into her busy schedule, Grace has learned how to reconcile her loses.

“I feel like sometimes it’s unfair that I have to do this or all my friends are going out without me,” she said, “but you have to make sacrifices and do things you don’t always want to do, but in the end it will be beneficial to you.”

All Grace’s music is available on Spotify and iTunes and her website lists her upcoming performances at http://marissagracemusic.com/.

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