On Friday, Oct. 6, at 7 pm, Nashville native and Island summer resident Sean Della Croce will perform at the Grange as part of the Live from the Grange monthly music series. Della Croce’s musical style and poetic lyrics reflect a truly unique soul. She combines Americana and folk music, and often weaves in a bit of storytelling along the way. Her wit and talent make for an entertaining show, which will include original songs from her 2021 debut album, “Illuminations.”
Della Croce is a third-generation musician, growing up around artists like Vince Gill, John Oates, the Beach Boys, and LeAnn Rimes. Hanging with such music nobility provided Della Croce numerous opportunities to experience a wide range of musical styles, gain inspiration, and hone her craft. But it had a few drawbacks as well.
“There are benefits and drawbacks to any upbringing. One of the challenges of growing up around musicians at that level was that the bar was set very high for me. Vince Gill has 22 Grammys,” Della Croce laughed. “It’s an unfair comparison for a young songwriter. I had to learn to compartmentalize, but I’ve experienced a real graciousness from other performers who held the door open — a generosity and an inkling for what’s possible.”
Della Croce attended the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts, holds a degree in philosophy, and tours internationally. She is also co-founder and editor of a quarterly journal, Broadside — a publication exploring the experiences of women through poetry and prose. Though Broadside is on pause, it still holds a place in her heart.
“We ceased production a few years ago, but it’s a project I think about a lot. It was really special to me, and ran for a few years as a collaboration with friends from college,” Della Croce said. “We accepted poetry, art, essays, satire, and first-person narratives. We felt that a print-only publication invited the reader to live with the work — work that doesn’t invite commentary or scrolling. I’m a big fan of physical newspapers, magazines, and books — much to the chagrin of my small apartment.”
Della Croce’s reverence for writing is apparent in her “Illuminations” album as well — a collection of songs written over a 10-year span. She collaborated with a number of consummate musicians, and the album took months to create. “I wanted to put forward the songs that have had an impact on me over the years,” she said. “Creating an album is different for everyone. Technology has made it easier in some ways. I recorded it in my producer Alan Deremo’s home studio in California. I’d fly out for weeks at a time.”
Songwriter, musician, and producer Greg Leisz was one of the artists who contributed to Della Croce’s album. Country Music Hall of Fame member Vince Gill played guitar on the song “Break in the Rain,” while singer and voice actor Molly Weaver added vocals. “They remotely added their parts. Then I came back to mix in my vocals. It was a labor of love, and I’m so honored to have had such accomplished musicians join me,” Della Croce said.
The songwriting process varies from musician to musician — each coming at it from a unique perspective. Some artists have a specific time of day that they set aside strictly to write. Others, like Della Croce, write when inspiration knocks on their door. “Songs arise like a feeling. Sometimes a verse arises, or a whole song. My work as a creative is to be available to what comes up,” Della Croce said. “My ultimate goal is to accompany my listener through phases of life that hopefully intersect with their own experiences at any given time.”
Della Croce also shared that sometimes her songs require a little banter with the audience, a bit of storytelling to accompany the music: “My set can be cerebral, and I like to break that up with a little personality. I think this interaction with the audience evolved as an artist and a queer performer — a lesbian woman growing up in the South. You might be facing an audience who isn’t necessarily welcoming, so I developed a way to try to gain rapport with an audience, who might not know where I fit into their musical tastes.”
Della Croce is jazzed to perform on the Island, and says returning to the Vineyard feels like a bit of a homecoming. “I’m so eager to come and play on the Vineyard, because I think I’ve been shaped by my influences there, especially as a young gay woman,” she said. “The Island has been more than a vacation spot; it’s a true refuge. Growing up, it meant a lot to me to be in a space where diversity is not merely tolerated, but embraced. I think the audience is in for a great night of songs and storytelling.”
Sean Della Croce at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury. Pay-what-you-can tickets are available at circuitarts.org/livefromthegrange, and a full listing of Circuit Arts events can be found at circuitarts.org/events. To learn more about Della Croce, visit her website at seandellacroce.com, and check out her Youtube page at youtube.com/c/SeanDellaCroce.