Grace Bowers is the young guitar prodigy who performs at local bars during the evening

Grace Bowers is the young guitar prodigy who performs at local bars during the evening: At just 17 years old, Grace Bowers might seem like any other teenager cruising around Nashville in her Jeep, accompanied by her Goldendoodles, Lenny and George, on sunny days. Her playful freckles and cheerful laughter might not hint at the transformation that occurs when she grabs her guitar.
Suddenly, her demeanor shifts, exuding an unwavering focus and self-assurance. With a skill level that suggests decades of experience, Bowers effortlessly plays her ’61 Gibson SG. Nancy Wilson from Heart recently left a supportive comment on one of Bowers’ Instagram posts, adding fire emojis in admiration.
Devon Allman invited her to perform with the Allman Betts Family Revival at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Additionally, she’s set to join Lainey Wilson for Nashville’s New Year’s Eve celebration. Her Instagram reveals snapshots of her mingling with notable figures like Billie Eilish, Wynonna Judd, and Dave Mustaine of Megadeth.
As a guitarist, Grace exhibits a level of concentration and authority that contrasts with her cheerful teenage persona. She discusses ’60s and ’70s blues guitarists with the same enthusiasm and depth as she might talk about her morning meal.

Grace Bowers is the young guitar prodigy who performs at local bars during the evening

Attracted to Hair Metal, Refined by the Blues.

Bowers first picked up a guitar at age 9 after she watched the music video for “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses “and saw Slash playing his Les Paul” on YouTube. She got really into “cheesy hair metal” from Winger and Ratt to Motley Crue before accidentally discovering the blues.

“I delve into a lot of funk and soul, and my rock influences are undeniable,” Bowers shared with The Tennessean from her representative’s office in East Nashville. “While I appreciate many classics, it doesn’t mean I disregard contemporary music. Recently, I’ve been deeply engrossed in the sounds of Buddy Miles, Curtis Mayfield, and, of course, Jimi Hendrix.”
When asked about her all-time favorite guitarist, she names Leslie West, the founding member and guitarist of the ’70s rock group, Mountain.
So, how did a 12-year-old become captivated by music that’s half a century old?
“I genuinely can’t pinpoint it. Nobody introduced me to it,” she explained. “I remember one day, while waiting in the car during one of my mom’s errands, I stumbled upon a station playing B.B. King. It was my first exposure to blues, probably around when I was 12 or 13. Until then, my exposure was mostly to hair metal. Discovering that blues sound genuinely inspired me to explore guitar further. From that point, I delved deeper into blues and then transitioned into classic rock.”

What Are You Interested in Learning?

Primarily self-taught, Bowers started by enrolling in lessons. However, her church-affiliated guitar instructor declined to teach her songs like “Hells Bells” or “TNT” by AC/DC due to their lyrics.
“Because of that experience, I went home and learned ‘TNT’ on my own by watching the video,” Bowers recalls.
It was only after moving from the Bay Area to Nashville with her family during the pandemic that Bowers became deeply committed to learning and playing. She mentions not grasping the pentatonic scale until relatively recently.
“Any guitarist can relate to that sentiment,” she notes. “It’s astonishing that despite playing for so long, I hadn’t come across it earlier.”
Amidst a full pandemic lockdown, Bowers started recording herself playing and uploaded the videos to YouTube. Over time, this progressed into live-streaming her practice sessions.

“People began tuning in,” she remarks. “At times, I’d have around 20,000 viewers, which was mind-blowing. This really encouraged me to be more active on social media platforms.”
Lisa Bowers, her mother, mentions that Grace experimented with various activities, from ballet to soccer and even football, but none captured her interest like music did.
“You always hope your child discovers their true passion,” Lisa Bowers reflects. “When she expressed interest in a guitar, we supported her. While Grace may feel she struggled initially, I saw potential. Observers often commented that she had a unique talent.”

Not-so-typical day in the life

A Day in Grace Bowers’ Life typically starts with dropping off her younger siblings at school, followed by a brief rest and attending online classes. Subsequently, she dedicates time to practicing her guitar. Most evenings, despite being underage, she frequents local bars to perform.
“She faced challenges academically,” Lisa Bowers remarks. “Anxiety was a significant hurdle for her. However, the guitar transformed her life. The supportive community she discovered through music has been a beacon for her, offering a sense of belonging she hadn’t experienced previously.”
Bowers mentions that she often spends her evenings performing at various venues.
Truthfully, most venues here have been incredibly supportive,” she shares. “I’ve always approached them with respect, and over time, we’ve established mutual trust. Their cooperation has been fantastic.”

Following the Covenant school tragedy, Bowers felt an urgent need to contribute.

“I have two younger brothers, aged 16 and 13. On that fateful day, I had just dropped one of them off at school,” she recalls. “Receiving a vague text about a shooting was terrifying, not knowing which school was involved, even if just momentarily.”
The incident evoked a mix of emotions in her: anger, sadness, and frustration. Determined to make a difference, she rallied local artists for a benefit concert. Through their collective efforts, they raised over $20,000 for the cause.

New year, new music

Following her performance alongside Lainey Wilson at the New Year’s Eve Live: Nashville’s Big Bash, Bowers has plans to enter the studio in February. She will collaborate with John Osborne from the Brothers Osborne to produce her debut EP alongside her band, Grace Bowers and the Hodge Podge.

Osborne mentioned via email that several individuals recommended him to Bowers when she was seeking someone to produce her inaugural project.
“I’m truly grateful they pointed her my way because I’ve been a fan for some time,” he expressed. “Collaborating on a guitar album with someone of her caliber is thrilling. Beyond her innate talent, it’s her passion and sincerity that stand out. Those qualities can’t be taught. She reminds me of my younger self, but she’s even more impressive.”

Bowers collaborates with her bandmates: Brandon Combs (drums), Joshua Blaylock (keys), Esther Okai-Tetteh (vocals), and Eric Fortaleza (bass) as they aim to craft the record collaboratively in a single setting, aiming for an authentic and natural sound.
“We’re aiming for a raw, live vibe,” she explains. “It won’t have that overly polished sound. Think along the lines of Santana’s debut album, where it begins instrumentally and the guitar doesn’t kick in for a few minutes — I find that captivating. Our record will blend both spontaneous jams and structured songs.”

Mature Beyond Her Age? Absolutely.

Bowers often receives recognition both for her young age and gender, viewing these aspects as both strengths and challenges. For instance, during a recent performance, a sound technician approached Bowers, offering guidance on connecting her guitar to the amplifier.
“That sort of thing happens frequently,” she notes. “I sometimes feel that if I were older and male, it wouldn’t occur. However, it does set me apart in a unique way, and that’s empowering. Advocating for individuals facing similar situations is rewarding.”
Regarding the sound technician witnessing her performance? “He did see me play, and I think he felt a bit embarrassed afterward,” she remarks.

Considering her early accomplishments, what are Bowers’ aspirations for the future?

“My primary goal is happiness,” she asserts. “Touring is on the horizon for sure. The specifics of who I tour with matter less than the enjoyment and the quality of music we produce.”

The performance will air live at 7:30 p.m. EST on CBS and will be available for Paramount+ subscribers, including those with Showtime access. Paramount+ Essential members can access the show on-demand the subsequent day.

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