Christena Graves writes songs in order to make sense of her world. Her lyrics are a mixture of a heartfelt acknowledgment of the pain and suffering in life, balanced by the steadying force of committed relationships. Growing up in a coastal area of western Michigan, Christena draws from her deep connection with the natural world to help frame the difficulty of the human emotional landscape. “Nature brings focus for me. I rely on it to color my lyrics.” She found her musical beginning learning to sing harmonies with her older brothers and sisters. Music was an important part of her family and they would often sing hymns together. She fondly remembers the day her oldest brother sat her on the kitchen counter and taught her to sing harmony to Jingle Bells. It was a moment that gave fuel to her love of singing.
After leaving Michigan to attend college in Missouri, she met her husband Brandon and joined the band Waterdeep as the keyboard player. After touring for several years, she stepped away from the band to raise their children. Songwriting became a release to help process the struggles of life. Eventually, she was writing songs for her church community and helping lead music on Sunday mornings. Once the kids were old enough, Christena and Brandon decided to form a new project and return to making music in a bigger way.
2019 marked the beginning of the Christena Graves Band and the ground work being laid for her return to the music industry. In mid 2020 Greg Lafollette, a long time musical friend, moved back to Kansas City from Nashville where he had built a successful career as an artist and producer. Greg offered his help to record a collections of songs that have become her new record. The album is titled, Finding My Footing. A nod to the difficulty of reengaging in a music business that has changed dramatically over the last 20 years but also a humble acceptance that life can be hard at times but it is important to keep moving forward.
The release of Finding My Footing in February of 2021 will mark her first full length solo album since 1996 and her first project ever as a band leader. The songs on Finding My Footing are stories of loss, fear, struggle, and joy. “This project ended up being much more than just making a good record. I spent a lot of time in self reflection—maybe I should call it a mid-life moment. I questioned my ability and worth as an artist, as a woman, and a human. It has been difficult to go through but I am learning so much about myself. I am happy with where I am and I am proud of what I’ve said with this album.”