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From an early age, Grace was encouraged to speak her mind and to express herself musically. Words and music were the family heirlooms she inherited from her parents, a traveling songwriter (Pierce Pettis) and poetry scholar (Dr. Margaret Mills Harper), who were divorced by the time she was a small child. As a result of that separation, she was raised in two very different parts of the "Deep South": the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, and the backwoods of Mentone, Alabama. Grace's musical influences run the gamut of Southern sounds: from mountain music and gospel to country and folk to R&B and hip hop. Pierce was on the road a lot, and the albums he left for her to listen to while he was touring the country and sending paychecks home were both a way to be closer to him and a driving influence in her writing from an early age. She was writing songs as soon as she could talk and enlisting help from her mom to get them down on paper by the time she was five.