Singer Isaiah Grass is growing in the music scene of Chicago. The local gigs are quickly adding up after singing the national anthem at a Chicago Fire game. He's conquered the House of Blues, Hard Rock Hotel and the sweaty crowds at Market Days.
His debut single, "I'm a Freak," hit with almost 100,000 views less than a month after the video was released.
Grass appeared recently at Macy's American Icons event on State Street and sat down with Windy City to talk music and the gay community.
Windy City Times: Hi, Isaiah. Is that your real name?
Isaiah Grass: Yes, that's my name. When my mom gets really mad she uses my full name: Isaiah Robert Joseph Grass. That is too long to put on a flyer. Some people have suggested to just call myself Isaiah but I like the Grass with it.
WCT: Where are you from, originally?
IG: I am from South Carolina. Before I moved to Chicago, I was living in New York. I was scouted to do modeling so I tried that out for a little bit. An agent here wanted to pursue music with me.
I have been living in Chicago five years now.
WCT: How is being a musician in Chicago?
IG: It is nice. I get to see a lot of things that are going on. I live close to the Trump Tower so I have a good view of downtown.
WCT: What brought you to a Macy's appearance?
IG: They saw me on Windy City Live and messaged my team.
WCT: Windy City Live was a good gig for you?
IG: It was. Ryan Chiaverini contacted me from the show after I had told a producer I wanted to be on the show. I had a Christmas song out so I thought they were going to ask me to sing during the holiday season. They actually waited until the next year.
After I did that show, I was contacted by a fashion magazine called Obscurae and did the cover for May. I was used in two commercials after that. My following has gotten bigger. I got booked for Taste of Chicago. I was offered a contract with a record label. A lot of things happened quickly.
We were very grateful about it. I was offered some gay Pride events at other cities but they weren't willing to compensate us enough money so we weren't able to do them.
WCT: You have perform here at gay events in Chicago in the past?
IG: Yes, I did Market Days and Out in the Park at Six Flags.
WCT: Are you gay?
IG: No, but very gay-friendly.
WCT: Let's talk about music. Did you film the video for "I'm a Freak" under the CTA tracks?
IG: Yes, it was. Good job on spotting that. I don't remember exactly where though.
That was the first song that I released when I came to Chicago. My agent wanted me to do something that would make people think of me. People already remembered me from modeling but this was for music. When I came to Chicago I tried to get my foot in here as a model because it was easier than New York. New York is very competitive. The music thing kind of just happened.
I wrote the song "I'm a Freak" from a ringtone. I heard it in someone's phone and made it up. My agent wanted me to record it immediately. That was the first song that we did.
WCT: "Climb Over Mountains" is your most recent song?
IG: Yes, that is the one I did on Windy City Live. I have gotten great feedback about it. We are having it remastered right now for radio. People like the song a lot. I am working on making a music video for it as well. I will start on that next month. I have been rehearsing so much for gigs like Macy's and Taste. Plus I have other jobs. I just did a commercial with an eight page script that I had to learn in three days.
I try to stay busy but put my priorities where they need to be focused on the most.
WCT: So your agent helps you book these things?
IG: Oh, yeah. I used to have an agency in New York. Since I came to Chicago I have only met with two agencies here. They liked my book but a lot of people have said because I am singer it is more complicated in terms of managing me. They feel I can do my own work as it is.
I haven't tried to explore the possibility of finding another agency, not that I am opposed to it, but I have other opportunities that have come to me.
WCT: Have you tried to be on other talk shows, like Wendy Williams'?
IG: One show I would really like to be on is You & Me This Morning but I don't know how to make it happen.
Honestly, I would like to perform on Steve Harvey. They go through a big casting company.
I have a great team that try to promote me to as many audiences as they can.
I am very grateful to the gay community. When I first started there was a massive amount of gay audience that just came at me. When I first released my song "I'm a Freak," there were a lot of people buying my song. I made it for kicks and giggles but people really loved the song. It became important to me that people knew I cared about the community as well. That is why when I was offered to do Market Days I was so grateful for that.
I am still trying to make a name for myself so any opportunity is a blessing.
Lounge in the grass while watching Isaiah Grass at Taste of Chicago Saturday, July 9, at 1:20 p.m. on the Bud Light Stage.
Follow his music and appearances at www.isaiahgrass.com .