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Win Grace & Paul Fotsch
Bioography
Win's Biography

photo: Paul and Win Grace


2004 marked Win Grace & Paul Fotsch's 29th year of performing together. They first began playing music together 1974. As they played and sang with friends for pure enjoyment, they were urged by listeners to find a wider audience for their music -- and they did! 

Here's how it came to pass:

During their early years of marriage, their main entertainment was to make  music together! They were living at the end of the road in southern Boone County, Missouri, and they had no television and no money.  The word began to get out in central Missouri about their music, and they began to be asked to perform--sometimes, miraculously, they even got paid! 

In 1980 they went to Colorado on vacation (actually, to escape the heat wave), and found themselves being asked to perform so often that they arrived home from vacation with more money than they had when they left. They were struck with the amazing realization that they might actually be able to able to make a living doing what they both loved doing more than anything else -- what a concept!  

They began to tour regionally, and by 1986, they were touring nationally and into Canada. The same year, they took the great leap: Win quit her part-time job which was supporting the family, and they became full-time musicians. They have performed at major festivals all over the U.S. and in Canada, including a 1995 appearance at the Roots of American Music Festival at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. To date, they have released six albums of their music and have appeared as guest artists on numerous other recordings.

Daughters Leela and Ellie Grace traveled with their parents from the very beginning, and since they were immersed in the music and raised with music as their parents' main form of entertainment (no TV!), they became quite competent instrumentalists, songwriters, vocalists, and percussive dancers at an early age.  Leela and Ellie gradually began to perform with their parents (What else to do while they are onstage?  You already know all the tunes and songs...) and by ages 13 and 15 were members of the band.  But by 1997 as Ellie and Leela became increasingly involved in their college studies, the band began to split into two duos, with Leela and Ellie sometimes doing solo performances as well.  

In 2004, Paul Fotsch & Win Grace still lived in southern Boone County at the end of the road.  Leela and Ellie had both graduated from college (summa cum laude!) and they each live in their own houses near downtown Columbia, MO (a vibrant and happening place!).  All four Graces could be found touring and performing throughout North America and continue to make their living playing music.  Most often, the parents were going one direction to perform, while Leela and Ellie go the other.  But occasionally the two duos (the parental units and the sister units) would be booked at the same festival, in which case they would sometimes sit in on a song or two on each others' sets. 

In 2003, Win and Paul joined forces with nationally-known musicians Cathy Barton, Dave Para, and Bob Dyer to form The Discovery String BandThe five had appeared on each others' albums numerous times, but they were moved to actually form a band by their common interest in the Lewis and Clark journey. 

As Bob filled notebooks with new songs and notes, Cathy and Dave began writing songs and digging up long-forgotten 200-year-old tunes, Cathy learned to play the Indian flute, Win became interested in Metis fiddling and voyageur songs and began to learn Le Pied, the traditional French/Metis seated clogging, it became increasingly obvious that these "Meriwether Pranksters" had developed something unique and special.  In November of 2003 they released a 70-minute CD (with a 28-page booklet!) titled "Most Perfect Harmony," Lewis and Clark: A Musical Journey.  Their program, Lewis and Clark: A Musical Voyage of Discovery, premiered at the historic Missouri Theatre in Columbia, Missouri in November 2003 as well, and they are now booking the program nationwide.

In 2007, at Win's urging, Paul agreed to take a sabbatical from performing and touring.  At age 57, Paul got a real job which delighted Win since she was exhausted from years of performing, touring and managing the music business.  She looked forward with delight to quiet times at home without the hectic 60-80 hour work weeks which she had been keeping for years as the manager (and person with too many hats) of the music business.  (There is always something to be done when you're self-employed!) However, that happy ending or even beginning was not to be.  Paul moved into Columbia.  Win is still in the same home at the end of the road and working on reclaiming the joy that she once found in music, and also working on starting a new life.  She is contemplating a return to performing and perhaps teaching -- looking for something right and good to do with her musical talent.  She's also looking for a job with no "homework!"  Stay tuned in 2010 for this new chapter. 

Win's Biography

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