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When Gracie Laboy (M.M. ’18) came to Berklee Valencia, she encountered an entirely new world of songwriting and music production. A graduate of Stanford University with degrees in both music and communication, Laboy had a deep background in singing and performing. After finishing college, she completed the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage across Spain, then worked in arts administration and marketing in San Francisco. Wanting to take the next step in her musical career, Laboy applied to the CPPD (Contemporary Performance with
Production Concentration) master’s program at Berklee Valencia.
“Although I had been performing practically my whole life, I had never written any original songs or music prior to attending Berklee,” Laboy says. “I had little experience in the studio and zero production experience. I left Berklee Valencia with seven original songs, countless hours of experience recording in state-of-the-art studios on campus, familiarity with DAWs like Pro Tools and Ableton, and the ability to intelligently communicate with and speak the lingo of engineers and producers.”
Laboy released her debut EP, Valencia, in the fall of 2019. Named after the city that inspired her, Laboy’s vocals and lyrics on the album reflect her personal struggles and emotional experience in Valencia. Laboy wrote all four of the EP’s tracks (three of them for class assignments) while studying at Berklee Valencia. She also recorded the majority of the album there, collaborating with classmates from all four master’s programs offered on campus.
Laboy recently released a single called “Boricua,” which she wrote in response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico in September 2017. Although she worked with producers in Los Angeles to finish the song, she initially wrote it for her final project while at Berklee Valencia. The single was featured in an Alt-Latino playlist on NPR, which mentioned Berklee alumni’s impact on the Latin music industry. NPR Music’s Felix Contreras called it “a sultry, R&B-tinged ode to her Puerto Rican roots with enough of a reggaeton sheen to make us appreciate the cross-cultural magic while we groove on the dance floor.”
“I left Berklee as a more confident, well-rounded musician,” Laboy says. “I also networked and became friends with amazing people from all over the world, got to live in a country that I love, and was especially inspired by the city of Valencia.”
Check out more of Laboy’s music at https://www.gracielaboy.com.