Grana Louise, born in 1953 in Cincinnati, Oh, is the youngest of three. Her two older brothers were 7 and 8 years older who she had a loving relationship with, though one has passed on. From an early age Grana loved music, playing the records of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Hitting her teenage years she remembers she drove her parents mad with the sounds of rock music, blaring it as loud as possible. Reminiscing about that time makes Grana’s eyes twinkle with a sense of mischief and she seems to draw a type of joy from the memories of her parents’ annoyance, "the kind of joy you only have as an adult who now understands just how obnoxious you were as a youngin’".
She tried auditioning for other parts in musical theater, such as Show Boat , but politics in the music industry acted as the final catalyst for Grana to take a 17 year hiatus when she worked in a variety of industries and in which she discovered “Who is Grana?”. It was during this time that Grana completely abandoned music, saying she didn’t even hum along to music on the radio. In fact, she thought she had lost her ability to sing until she realized with an epiphany in 1988 that she still had it. She found her way to a jazz club and asked Eddie Floyd and his band if she could sit in and he agreed. She sang “Misty” grasping the microphone as her lifeline. Loosening up she did a second set singing in swing-style selections from Porgy & Bess stage play “Summertime”. She didn’t even know she could sing swing! She continued to sing locally and state-wide, paying rent by winning talent contests with her renditions of Chaka Khan.
Grana’s mother’s influence truly shone through during this time of her life. Her mother had always been a woman to take charge, fight for the underdog, and held Grana accountable for her life. Grana fought for herself and unfortunately the Ohio jazz scene fought back. She moved to Minnesota in 1993 when she couldn’t get enough work, picking that state because Prince came from there and she believed if they liked Prince they’d love her. She was right. Though she was cognoscente that her roots there weren’t permanent she grew her fan base and was influenced by the likes of Bessie Smith, Dinah Washington, Helen Hunnes, and Ida Cox type blues, not “stomp down” blues as Grana likes to call her current type of music.
Grana’s blues career shifted to Chicago in 1998 when she was recruited by David Murford who saw her perform in St. Paul, MN. He brought her to Doc Pelligrino’s club, Kingston Mines, where she played with JW & the Chi-Town Hustlers. Even today, Grana shows amazement that everyone that night seemed to know who she was and that David had bragged about her, telling her “it’s a long walk back to Minnesota” in a joshing sense of encouragement. When she finally moved to Chicago, she lived off West Diversy and had her apartment broken into three times before she could even unpack her boxes. Chicago had given her mixed reception. She performed all over the city regularly, traveled the states, and eventually overseas.