NowVIZ / Grace Weber

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Cover photo by Andrea Mead Cross in Los Angeles with Grammy Award winner R+B singer, Grace Weber.
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KEVIN HAYES

Photographer Kevin Hayes takes time out to talk with NowVIZ and give us a sample of his latest work! By way of Ireland, through the lens he captures the vibe on the street along with another passion--cycling.

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52 ALEX FERREirA ASHLEY CALDWELL Two-time Olympic Halfpipe skier Four-time Olympic Freestyle skier-aerials
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Weber put herself on the map penning “All We Got” (feat. Kanye West and Chicago Children’s Choir) for Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book, which went on to win Best Rap Album at the 2017 Grammy Awards and earn Weber her first Grammy. We recently caught up with her in Los Angeles as we talk about the past, present and future!

Two-time Olympic Ski jumper GRACE WEBER
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155134 You just have to check out what’s going on behind the scenes! BEHIND THE SCENES CREDITS + COMMENTS Thank you and enjoy!
We’re a passionate group of athletes + creatives who love the culture of living. It’s a fusion of visuals, the latest happenings, and a glimpse of real people doing some phenomenal things. Follow us as we capture our world in front of the lens and go behind the scenes for the personal stories all living the NOW.
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NowVIZ: Can you tell us about yourself and where you live?

Kevin: My name is Kevin Hayes and I live in Dublin, Ireland, with my wife Ali and our little Yorkshire Terrier, Oscar. I’m a photographer and while I photograph anything that catches my eye, I tend to focus mainly on street photography and sports photography, particularly cycling.

NowVIZ: When did you get into photography and what is it about photography that you love?

Kevin: I have always had a love for photography, and I guess that stemmed from my dad who was a keen amateur photographer. I loved watching the process of developing and printing that he did in his attic darkroom. I can still recall the smell of the chemicals used.

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NowVIZ: Cycling seems to be a passion throughout your work. You’ve shot the Irish National Cyclocross Championships, World Cyclocross Championships, and the National Road Race Championships. What is it about the sport that draws you?

Kevin: For as long as I remember I have been a fan of cycling. Growing up in Ireland in the 80s and 90s, we were lucky enough to have some world-class cyclists competing at the highest level. I still remember vividly the exploits of Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche, Paul Kimmage, and Martin Early. And even more recently Nico Roche, Dan Martin, Sam Bennett, Eddie Dunbar, and Ryan Mullan, just to name a few who have been proudly flying the Irish flag at the highest level.

I love the thrill and excitement of mountain biking. The No Fear attitude of the downhill bikers is amazing to witness. There is a camaraderie among the mountain bike crew, and a genuine happiness for each other’s success and concern when someone has a spill. It’s great to see the competitors trudge back up the mountain to cheer on their fellow competitors once their run is over.

NowVIZ: You were able to photograph Round 2 of the National Mountain Bike Downhill Series in Ireland. Can you give us the highlights?

Kevin: I shot Round 2 of the National Mountain Bike Downhill Series recently in Bree, County Wexford. It was without doubt one of the best events I have shot. From practice and the seeding runs on Saturday and race runs on Sunday, the atmosphere was electric! Everyone just seemed to be up for it.

The track was running wickedly fast and the host club put together a trail that challenged every rider. All age groups put on a show for the gathered crowd and the noise was like nothing I’d heard before. Great weekend of racing.

My dream would be to travel to events overseas and shoot international racing. We have some pretty decent mountain bikers currently mixing it with the top names on the world stage.

NowVIZ: You’ve done some incredible work in many areas—sports, landscape, architecture, street—is there a particular subject you gravitate to most and why?

Kevin: My two main passions when it comes to photography are definitely street and sports. They are two areas where the action is completely unpredictable. Anything can and often does happen and as a photographer, you need to be ready and be able to react in a split second.

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NowVIZ: Your Instagram @KevinHayes1972 description reads, “off beat photo experience.” Will you talk about that experience and what motivates you?

Kevin: “off beat photo experience” refers to a business that I am currently in the process of setting up. It will be based around street photography where participants will learn about the techniques and practices of street photography. As well as using their own digital cameras, people will use a film camera to shoot a roll of 35mm film. I have a collection of vintage Olympus Trip 35 cameras that are beautiful to shoot and not too intimidating for someone new to film photography. I see it as a way to slow down the photography process and make people stop and think about the image they are making. At the end of the day’s shooting, I hope that everyone will have learned plenty about street photography and will leave with a series of actual physical images of their experience. We rarely print images these days, which is a pity because an image really comes to life when printed.

Initially, I plan to run the workshops in Dublin but the intention is to take small groups to various European cities for short breaks and run the workshops in places like Berlin, Copenhagen, and anywhere else that offers interesting and vibrant surroundings for street shooting.

NowVIZ: Would you talk about your creative process and mindset, and how you approach photography?

Kevin: When I get to the course on day one I like to walk the track and single out potential spots to locate myself in the hope that I can get the shot.

I tend not to just stay in one spot and like to vary the style of image that I make. This means that I may not get to shoot every rider, but I’m usually pretty pleased with what I get.

Shooting a fast-moving sport in the forest comes with its challenges, though. Oftentimes the light is not great under the canopy, but I’m not afraid to boost my ISO, as personally, I’m a fan of grain. And if that’s what it takes to get the shot then that’s fine with me. When shooting an event I generally carry two cameras - one with a telephoto lens and one that I interchange with a wide angle and fisheye. I like to get shots that might be just that bit different.

NowVIZ: What inspires you on a daily basis?

Kevin: When I’m shooting on the streets, whether that be in Dublin or somewhere like Berlin, I’m inspired by the people around me. Even though I don’t necessarily know them, they all have a story. As a street photographer, I try to capture something of that story in the split second they cross my path and I depress the shutter button. I try to always have a camera on me every time I walk outside the door. You just never know what will present itself.

On the outskirts of Salt Lake City, Utah three of the world’s top skiers, Alex Ferreira, Ashley Caldwell, and Kevin Bickner came out for the day to be photographed exclusively by renowned photographer Andrea Mead Cross. All three Olympians, competing in three different ski disciplines, possess many commonalities, one being a No Fear atittude. They are also passionate, creative, patient and have the headspace it takes to master outrageous world-level technique and skill. Behind the scenes, it’s a 24/7 commitement, pushing past extraordinary boundaries to set new standards.

To watch them perform is exciting, daunting, and tenancious. It’s witnessing nerves of steel against a snowy backdrop. They launch into space with trained precision. Time seems to stop as they hang airborne stories above ground level. Their acrobatic moves defy gravity yet taunt the edge of danger. Then it’s the roar of the crowd, the goosebumps, and snow spray as they hit their mark. It’s a total rush, and it’s embedded in each of their DNA, defining them as three of the world’s best.

ALEX ASHLEY

KEVIN

ALEX ASHLEY KEVIN

Alex made history at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics by being the first halfpipe athlete in history to complete an “all doubles run.” That year Ferreira also won the FIS World Cup Overall and the coveted FIS Crystal Globe for the “Best Male Halfpipe Skier of the Year”. And then it was back-to-back wins in 2019 and 2020, taking the gold at the Winter X Games in Aspen. 2021 was somewhat of a struggle as he had to undergo neck surgery following a crash while training. He told VailDaily, “I hate pouring my heart and soul into something and not being able to provide results in return. That just drove me kind of crazy, as well as being in so much pain and having neck surgery. I was just so hungry to feel normal again. And I think that’s a big part of why I’m so motivated. I feel like myself again.” Nine months later he was at his second Olympics in Beijing. And his run with four double corks, including one rotated 1440, in windy and cold conditions, saw him on the podium to celebrate winning the bronze.

NowVIZ: As a two-time Olympian and silver and bronze medalist, you have been able to push the bar in ski halfpipe to new levels! How challenging is it to continue to be creative yet competitive on a world stage?

Alex: The hardest thing to do in any sport is to keep up with the current competition. In skiing that is definitely true, but it might be more scary than in most sports. You have to go higher and do more spins, and the level is continuously surprising me. So yes, it is extremely difficult to balance being creative while maintaining the competitive edge. Finding that line is hard, but it is always worth it.

NowVIZ: Both your parents are very athletic. Your father is a former pro soccer player, and your mom is a competitive runner! Have they been able to help in any way throughout your ski career? And, if so, how?

Alex: Yes, my parents have been instrumental in my ski achievements. They both loved sports so they always supported my dreams no matter the cost. It was a special thing to grow up with each of them, but in different ways. My dad was hard on me but always cared. My mom was extremely loving and had a softer touch, which was equally, if not more, important.

Now VIZ Q+A

NowVIZ: How do you fuel your body nutritionally throughout the season? Is there a specific diet or regimen you follow?

Alex: Everybody’s diet does different things. For me, I am a pescatarian. It allows me to be at the optimal fighting weight while still maintaining maximum stamina and minimal impact. I eat healthily and in small quantities throughout the day.

NowVIZ: How do you mentally prepare yourself to compete?

Alex: I visualize my run 4X through top to bottom five days a week for 30 weeks straight. I know exactly how each competition is going to go because I see it in my head every day.

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NowVIZ: Can you talk about the type of training it takes to make the podium when you compete at a world level?

Alex: To be the best, you have to act like the best, and train like the best. I always looked at other sports and what athletes were doing. I myself am very disciplined. I start with one hour of reading and meditation. The next hour is strength training in the gym. After that, an hour on the trampoline, and an hour in the hot tub and sauna, visualizing my runs and speaking my affirmations. Then I have 30 minutes of video review with ice. Then it’s physical therapy for an hour, sports psychology for an hour before I go to bed at 8:30pm, and get up the following day to do it all over again! For me it was that exact schedule that led me to the top of the podium. That’s what it took to win.

NowVIZ: What motivates and inspires you on a daily basis?

Alex: My fellow competitors inspire me beyond belief; they are all unbelievable skiers and people. Motivational people inspire me through podcasts. My mom inspires me. Everyone around me has something wonderful to offer, and I am very grateful for that. The culmination of all those different people inspires me.

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Photo provided by Alex Ferreira
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NowVIZ: You’ve gotten into filmmaking, and two films you made, Hotdoggin’ Hans and The Scenic Route , were partnered with Vital Films. What do you like most about the process, and can you tell us if you have anything new in the works?

Alex: I like that I’m working with some of my best friends, and I love that we have a great balance between having fun and being very professional. We work hard and we play hard. Life is good when you are succeeding; life is even better when you are succeeding with your friends.

ASHLEY

After competing in the sport for only two seasons, Ashley was named to the US team for the 2010 Winter Olympics. In Vancouver she was the youngest to compete in the event at 16 years old, and made her first Olympic final. In 2011, she won her first World Cup aerials event in Lake Placid, New York, becoming the youngest freestyle female to ever win. Ashley also holds a World Record for the hardest acrobatic trick ever landed by a female, and became the first female skier to land the trick, a quadruple twisting triple back flip at the 2017 World Championship in Sierra Nevada, Spain. “My hardest trick is my favorite trick, when I do it well,” Caldwell tells Northern Virginia Magazine. She describes it in aerial jargon as a “full, double-full, full,” or a tripletwisting quadruple backflip. “I do a flip and a twist, then a flip and two twists, and then a flip and a twist, all in one trick.”

ASHLEY

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NowVIZ: You are a four-time Olympic freestyle skier and a recent 2022 Beijing gold medalist! Congrats! Could you give us some background on your journey?

Ashley: My father taught me how to ski when I was three. I also started flipping off the furniture around the same age, and my mother put me into gymnastics to help me learn how to be safe!

Watching the Olympics was always a family activity. When we were watching the 2006 Olympics both of my parents suggested I should put my skiing and acrobatic skills together and try the sport of Aerials, which we were watching at the time on TV.

A year later, they signed me up for a summer camp. I did my first backflip on skis in 2007, and by 2010 I had qualified for my first Olympic Games.

Quitting gymnastics, moving away from home, and starting online school was a scary and thrilling experience. I am so lucky to have found such a perfect sport for me that I love.

NowVIZ: What is the most intense part of your training when learning and perfecting new tricks?

Ashley: The most intense part of our training is the moment right before you turn your skis into the jump. Crashing is a huge part of our sport, and learning new tricks comes with a lot of crashing! So, the fear and intensity that comes with new tricks are from not knowing whether you are going to take a huge crash!

However, the fear changes as you get better with each trick. It changes from fear of crashing to the fear of not doing it the best you can.

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NowVIZ: Could you talk about the type of training required when competing for an optimum result on a world level?

Ashley: To compete at the World Cup level, you must love your sport. It becomes a 24/7 job because every single thing you do impacts your training and competitions. It takes years of dedication and resilience to be competitive at such a high level. I’ve probably done hundreds of thousands of backflips through the years, and countless hours in the gym. I’ve watched thousands of video, worked consistently on trampoline, fixed my skis, took long plane rides, and have been extremely cold innumerable times, and it all made me into the athlete I am today.

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NowVIZ: How do you fuel your body nutritionally throughout the season? Is there a specific diet or regimen you follow?

Ashley: People are often surprised when I say I’m not on a strict diet. There are no foods I won’t eat or cut out, but I do limit certain types of foods that I know are unhealthy. I listen to my body. If I want extra salty snacks or something sweet, I let myself have it. I know that my performance will suffer if my diet is bad.

It is much easier to eat healthily when I am at home training in Utah versus when I am traveling abroad. Getting good, healthy food can be virtually impossible in some of the locations we travel to. So, I bring freeze-dried meals, USANA supplements, bars, and Ruvi (a powdered fruit and veggie drink) to make sure I’m getting what I need.

NowVIZ: How do you mentally prepare yourself to compete?

Ashley: Over the years, I’ve tried many different types of mental prep schemes, trying to figure out what works best for me. While I have not found the perfect mental preparation, I know that my most successful days of skiing are when I’m happy and having fun. Those days consist of lots of smiling, dancing, singing, and joking with my teammates. I even force myself to do those things when I don’t want to. It has become a “fake it till you make it” attitude on the rough days. I know that when I’m too serious, unhappy or stressed out, I am almost always unsuccessful.

Making myself dance and joke helps change my attitude to a more positive one when I find myself in a bad headspace before an event. Each athlete is very different, and I’ve had athletes and coaches tell me to focus more when they see me dancing and joking around. But I’ve found what helps me most in competitions is enjoying every minute of it.

NowVIZ: What motivates and inspires you on a daily basis?

Ashley: I feel really lucky to be able to travel the world doing what I love. I have had several injuries take me out for entire seasons. These injuries helped me affirm my love for the sport and be grateful every day. My favorite feeling in the entire world is overcoming being scared. Aerials are a pretty scary sport, especially after you have taken a huge crash. But coming back and nailing a sweet jump after something like that has happened is even more rewarding. That feeling of proving yourself is really rewarding and addictive.

There have been people throughout my career who doubted my goals as an athlete and disregarded women’s aerials. I always wanted to prove them wrong. At first, I did it for myself, but over time I realized I wanted to prove them wrong for every other kid who would come after me with a big dream.

KEVIN

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Kevin started jumping at the Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove, Illinois, when he was nine years old. He then became a member of the Junior National Team, and was the silver medalist two years running before taking the championship title in both 2012 and 2013. Also in 2012, at 16 years old, he was named to the USA Development Team and became a member of three World Junior teams. In 2015 he began World Cup competitions and in 2017 set a new US record jumping (244.5 meters) on the ski flying hill in Vikersund, Norway. He then made his Olympic debut in PyeongChang, Korea, 2018, finishing 18th, the best by a US man in the Olympics in 16 years. Kevin then made his second Olympic team this year traveling to Beijing.

Now VIZ Q+A

NowVIZ: As a two-time Olympic ski jump athlete and national record holder what has been the key for you to continue improving and moving up the ladder in the sport?

Kevin: The key to improving, like any sport, starts with training hard and dedication. But ski jumping is a very technical sport that is constantly evolving, so it takes more than a bit of hard work. I think that understanding the sport, studying techniques, and trying to evolve with it gives me the upper-hand. Even as a veteran, I’m still learning new things about the sport.

NowVIZ: How did you get into the sport of ski jumping?

Kevin: I grew up in the suburbs outside of Chicago where unfortunately it’s very flat. As a kid, my parents would take me up north to ski on some of the tiny Midwest hills and resorts. I loved to ski, but could only go once or twice a year.

Then, when I was nine, some family friends brought me to the Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove to watch their annual winter tournament. There, we watched skiers slide off a massive tower and soar down the 70-meter ski jump. It all seemed so exciting to me and when my dad pointed out a tent with a sign that read “Learn to Ski Jump” I ran right over.

I returned to Norge a couple of weeks later and they set me up with a suit and a pair of skis, and I immediately fell in love with the sport. It was only 20 minutes away from my house so I could train several times a week, and it focused on one of my favorite parts about skiing, catching air.

NowVIZ: Could you talk about the type of training you commit to day-in and day-out to compete on a world level?

Kevin: So a typical training schedule is basically a full-time job. We start in May and go year-round until our competition season ends at the end of March. Then we get the month of April off.

We train six days a week and have Sunday as a rest day if we are not in competition season. We jump four days a week. Sometimes more and sometimes less, depending on our schedule.

On an average day, I wake up early and get ready for the day. I like to get to the venue an hour before jumping, which gives me enough time to warm up, stretch, and activate my muscles.

After discussing with my coaches what my goals for the day are, I suit up and make my way to the top of the jump. On average I take between six and eight jumps in a session, which takes about 2.5 hours.

After training, I will head home and make myself lunch and rest up for a little bit before going to the gym. We have a rotating workout schedule with several different types of workouts depending on the day. This ranges from weight workouts to balance and coordination, and covers everything in between, including speed/agility, plyometric, core, and technique training just to name a few. Leg strength is very important and so most of our workouts focus on the lower half of the body. Ski jumpers need to be lean, and have strong, explosive muscles, but still be extremely flexible.

Photo provided by Kevin Bickner
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NowVIZ: How do you fuel your body nutritionally throughout the season? Is there a specific diet or regimen you follow?

Kevin: Weight is an extremely important aspect of the sport. The goal is to be as light as you can, while still feeling healthy and strong. This is a difficult balance to find and since everyone’s bodies are different, it’s an individual journey to find that balance. Some athletes struggle to keep weight off more than others. Fortunately, I don’t have a problem with this and so I don’t have to limit myself very much. With nutrition, my main goal is to make sure I am eating healthily. A variety of fresh food with every meal is ideal. I don’t have any dietary restrictions or special requirements, which makes eating healthily much easier considering the amount of traveling I have to do for the sport. As long as I am eating well and maintaining a consistent weight, I am fulfilling my nutrition goals.

NowVIZ: How do you mentally prepare yourself to compete?

ACTIONKevin: In a sport where there are nearly 40 World Cup events a year, competing becomes routine. It’s helpful for not becoming too stressed out over any one event because there’s always tomorrow or next week.

That being said, competing is one of the most fun parts of the sport. Many athletes have specific rituals and routines that they follow for every event. Myself, I know how easily obstacles and variables can be thrown into the mix at an event. It’s not uncommon for a competition to be affected by any number of outside forces, including the weather. Therefore, I like to be prepared for anything. I don’t have a strict routine to follow. I try to stay relaxed and laid back. I think it’s important to treat every jump the same. That way, competition jumps can be just as consistent as training jumps.

NowVIZ: What motivates and inspires you on a daily basis?

Kevin: Many things motivate me. First off, to be the best I can be in a sport that I love and have dedicated most of my life to is always a good motivator. The things I have accomplished in my career really help push me forward because it’s proof that these big goals can be achieved, and I will always strive for more.

I am also motivated by the fact that ski jumping is not a big sport here in America, and traditionally America is not one of the stronger nations at competitions. The gap between Americans and other top ski jumping countries is closing and being one of the athletes to lead this closure means a lot to me.

It also means a lot to me that ski jumping becomes better known here in America. I think that starts with Americans having more success in the sport. Everyone knows the big names in Alpine. I think with a bit more success in ski jumping, Americans will get decent exposure to the sport.

NowVIZ: Do you have a person(s) that has mentored or guided you throughout your career and, if so, how?

Kevin: There are so many people throughout my career that have made meaningful impacts on my jumping. All my coaches from when I was a junior through to my coaches at the Olympics have helped shape me into the jumper I am today. Everyone from my home club of Norge outside of Chicago helped build the foundation of my career. USA Nordic, the main organization for everything ski jumping in the United States, has done an exceptional job of fostering my career. My parents did an amazing job supporting me throughout the many years, especially in the early days. And really, all my friends and family did an amazing job believing in me and showing their support through the whole thing.

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Fourth GRACE
Fourth STORY GRACE

You’ll hear that said about this R&B singer-songwriter a lot. But that one word can’t describe a vocal tone that’s so warm and light it’s practically luminous, nor the pure-hearted honesty of this Grammy Award-winner’s songs.

Growing up in Milwaukee, Weber found her voice singing in the Central City Youth Gospel Choir. But music was the heart-center of her family life too. And as she says in her interview with NowVIZ, the joy and connection that came from singing and joking with cousins around the piano was “the catalyst for how I want to share music with people today.”

After picking up several singing awards and accolades as a teen, including a spot performing on the nationally televised Showtime at the Apollo, Weber moved to New York to study at NYU.

Graduating in 2010, she spent the next few years experimenting with other sounds that would enrich her soul and gospel roots. In 2016, a serendipitous meeting with Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment led to a song Weber worked on with them featuring in Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book This was “All We Got”, the album’s opening track featuring Kanye West and Chicago Children’s Choir. Coloring Book would go on to win Best Rap Album at the 2017 Grammy Awards, giving Weber her first Grammy win.

The following year was a whirlwind. A record deal with Capitol Records and touring opportunities came quickly, but left her exhausted and unsure whether she was on the right track. After 12 months, she and Capitol Records parted ways. But her release from that contract allowed her to find a musical freedom she hadn’t felt since she was a child singing songs with her family.

A soulful and jazzy EP, How Did We Get Here, produced by Louie Lastic and Jack Dine and featuring Masego, was well-received in 2020. And since then, the accolades haven’t stopped.

In 2021, Weber, now based in LA, dropped her debut album, A Beautiful Space Produced by old friends The Social Experiment, this joyful collection of slick, gospel-influenced R&B goodness

boasts a call-list of crazily-talented collaborators - Nico Segal and Westside Boogie, as well her earlier inspiration, Chance the Rapper. Weber’s stunning vocal blend of strong melody and soft falsetto along with the honesty of her lyrics also revealed in this collection of 12 songs the deep integrity of a singer now fully confident in her truth.

Billboard hailed the album as “sexy, timeless and empowering,” while Spin.com stated “it showcases a powerful independent artist with a sound so poignant it shatters the stratosphere.”

A Beautiful Space has since been streamed over 4,000,000 times on all platforms. And Weber hasn’t stopped. She recently released a new tune called “414”, featuring rapper, Mudy.

A gorgeously airy summer ode to Milwaukee, “414” is Weber’s self-professed love song to the city that helped her become the singer she is today. She’s also giving back to the city by setting up the Grace Weber’s Music Lab – a Milwaukee-based nonprofit she founded to offer free music education to high school students.

Yes, Weber’s sound is soulful. But that’s not all it is. It’s joyous and hopeful, and like nothing you’ve heard before. It’s what makes her so damn special, and it’s why we’re likely to be hearing about her for a long, long time to come.

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NowVIZ: You’ve grown up with music in so many ways! Your family was very musical, and at 12 years old you were in the Central City Youth Gospel Choir in Milwaukee, performing on the nationally televised Showtime at the Apollo in Harlem, New York. Also, in high school, you were a Presidential Scholar for the Arts winning the Silver Award in Popular Voice. What incredible achievements to begin an incredible career! So, tell us, how did this progression unfold?

Grace: I’ve been singing forever. I always say I don’t even remember when exactly I started singing because it was always just a part of me, like talking or breathing! But I do remember, starting around five or six years old, singing around the piano with my Grandpa and my cousins.

My Mom has nine brothers and sisters, and they all had children, so there were a lot of cousins! Every holiday we’d all gather around the old piano in my Grandma’s and Grandpa’s cozy living room, and just sing and sing as the smells from the kitchen — of turkey, mashed potatoes, pork chops, fresh bread — just filled the air. I can still put myself right back in that room and feel how amazing it was. It was how I began to associate music with family and love, and presence and togetherness. And it was the catalyst for how I want to share music, especially the live music experience, with people today.

VIZ Q+A
Photo @graceweber On the roof in LA’s Fashion District
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District with photographer Andrea Mead Cross and R+B singer Grace Weber.
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NowVIZ: This past year you released your incredible debut album, A Beautiful Space, executive produced by The Social Experiment. Can you talk about the album and the inspiration behind it?

Grace: The journey of creating A Beautiful Space was one of a lot of artistic and self-growth, and rediscovering the playfulness and joy I felt creating music as a kid.

On the first day of working and writing the album with Nate Fox, he simply handed me a microphone and said “sing when you feel inspired.” We used that ethos to guide us through the entire project, and let the music lead us toward what the album would feel and sound like. The music and process itself were the guides, and I really followed it through what it needed to teach me. My new album, which I’m working on now, is a little different in that I am going into it with a clear intention and it’s me who has the reins as the “guide.” I think in that way it really reflects the growth that my first album helped me gain.

NowVIZ: Tell us about working with Chance the Rapper and The Social Experiment. How did that happen and what is it about this group that includes Nate Fox and Nico Segal that gets you excited?

Grace: I first discovered Chance and The Social Experiment when I heard Acid Rap back in 2015. I remember hearing “Good Ass Intro” and freaking out about how amazing it was. I grew up singing in a gospel choir in Milwaukee and I was so excited when I heard how The Social Experiment guys were producing this music that felt like gospel, hip hop, R&B, and pop, and all of it coming together in this totally new and refreshing way.

Then I heard Surf, and the creativity in the songwriting and production just blew me away. It was so unafraid to be outside of the mainstream and it created an entirely new path for artists to express themselves. After that, I knew I had to work with these guys, and I started the process of figuring out how to find them! The coolest thing was that a couple of months after I started asking friends if anyone knew Nate, Nico, or Peter, to no avail, I ended up in Nate’s studio with Nate and Nico completely serendipitously. I didn’t even realize I was going to Nate Fox’s studio when I got the invite and address from an LA friend. And that serendipitous feeling, the feeling that things were falling into place for what needed to happen on the journey, existed for me throughout the entire making of the album.

NowVIZ: You have had the opportunity to write and collaborate with amazingly talented artists such as Masego, Vic Mensa, Francis and the Lights, Westside Boogie, and Chance the Rapper. Can you talk about any special moments in these collaborations, and what it means to have these opportunities?

Grace: Working with all of those artists has honestly been life-changing. I truly was and continue to be in awe of all of them as artists, and I learned something different from each of them. To get to see their process of writing and creating was like being in a MasterClass. And the coolest thing was it was a MasterClass with peers and friends. I love the fact that I get to look up to all my artist friends I’ve come up with from New York to LA to Milwaukee and beyond; that’s the coolest thing to me. Soaking up different things I learn from my friends’ creative processes helps me become a better artist.

NowVIZ: What is your process for writing and creating your music?

Grace: I usually start with the instrumental or the beat and start building words and melodies on top of that. I don’t go into a writing session with an idea of what the song should be or a concept, really. I come up with that part as words start coming to me and I start getting an idea of what the song is gonna be as it unfolds; kinda letting it fall out of me first, and then working it. Refining it from there is how my process of writing has worked best for me.

NowVIZ: Who has been your biggest influence in music?

Grace: So many artists have influenced me that I can never pick one!! Some of my biggest influences are Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Eva Cassidy, Etta James, Dinah Washington, India Arie, Boys II Men, Joni Mitchell, Bon Iver, and The Social Experiment.

NowVIZ: Can you talk about what is coming up in the future?!

Grace: Yes! I’m working on a new album and I’m soooo excited about it. It’s produced by a group of ridiculously talented producers — Q Gulledge, Chris Payton, MTJ, Blanda, Calvin Valentine, and Akeel Henry — who I’m so inspired by, and I just can’t wait to start rolling it out into the world!!! The project is a collection of love songs, all with different perspectives on love. It’s still coming together but I honestly couldn’t be more excited about this one.

NowVIZ: Beyond your musical career what inspires you on a daily basis?

Grace: Witnessing other people being completely present and in the moment inspires me the most. You see it a lot in kids, where they aren’t preoccupied with anything except that present moment. They have this curiosity and wonder that I am so inspired by. Anytime I witness that, it reminds me to touch back into that part of me, and just embrace how fun it is to create and sing and make music.

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KEVIN HAYES, PHOTOGRAPHER

Music is massively important to me. I have an eclectic taste in music and pretty much will listen to anything. Lately, Alt-J and De Staat have been playing through my earbuds. But honestly, it could be anything from LCD Soundsystem, Wilco, Idles, James Yorkston, Radiohead, TV On The Radio, Gorillaz……the list could go on for another full page!

ALEX FERREIRA, OLYMPIC HALFPIPE SKIER

HAHA. Currently, I am bumping lots of EDM and anything that gets the blood going. Sometimes I love classic rock to ski to as well. It calms me down if I’m too pumped up.

ASHLEY CALDWELL, OLYMPIC FREESTYLE SKIER

I’m always rocking some sort of ALT rock playlist like Mt. Joy, Wilderado, John Craigie, Joywave, Neon Trees.

MUSIC

KEVIN BICKNER, OLYMPIC SKI JUMPER

I enjoy music from all genres, but I listen to a lot of rap. If I’m working out or getting ready for an event, it usually is rap. That’s the music that really puts me in a competitive headspace.

GRACE WEBER, SINGER SONGWRITER

Ooo, I’m listening to a lot of really good R&B lately. Artists like Lucky Daye, Amber Mark, Giveon, Alex Isley, and Kehlani. And of course, I’m listening to Renaissance by the Queen, Beyoncé.

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behind the scenes

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Photographer Kevin Hayes covers round 2 of the Mountain Bike Downhill Nationals in Bree, County Wexford.
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On location in Salt Lake City, Utah with two-time Olympian Alex Ferreira.
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Behind the scenes with photographer Andrea Mead Cross and Olympian Alex Ferreira.
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On set with photographer Andrea Mead Cross and makeup artist Denise Christensen.

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On location in Salt Lake City, Utah with four-time Olympian Ashley Caldwell.
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Working with two-time Olympian Kevin Bickner on location outside Salt Lake City.
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Photographer Andrea Mead Cross and R+B singer Grace Weber.

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Photo shoot in Los Angeles with R+B singer Grace Weber.
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VISUAL GRAPHIC EDITORS

Stark

Knolls

EDITOR

Colgan

LATEST

We are thrilled to welcome the extremely talented and versatile Siobhan Colgan an Irish-born writer based in Madrid, Spain (because ‘sun’!)

She writes in the area of athletics, fitness, wellness, music and more, and is delighted to be the newest addition to the Now VIZ team!

She writes the intro in this issue for featured artist, R+B singer, songwriter Grace Weber .

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Hayes

Williams Joshua Levy

Saffieri

Fydler

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COLOR TECHNICIAN

AND RESEARCH

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2022 No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission. This magazine is viewed with the understanding that the information present is from varied sources for which there can be no warranty or respondsibility by NowVIZ.com as to the accuracy or completeness.

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@ NOWVIZMAG PUBLISHER Studio 25, INC. MANAGING ART DIRECTOR K Skyler
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