A child prodigy and now internationally renowned concert pianist, Grace Nikae has been described as a rising world star, genius pianist, powerful, magical, awe-inspiring, driven and compassionate. She is just a few years out of college and already well established on an instrument and in a field difficult for women to excel in. She’s lived, performed, and taught around the world, co-founded a non-profit educational organization, released her much heralded debut recording, and as an artistic ambassador, has done countless outreach and benefit work for children, communities, charities, and organizations.
Significant accomplishments for a woman of her age - and a little intimidating to the average person. There is a “Grace” behind the headlines, though, the Grace who’s made all this happen, and who takes a breath every moment like everyone else, and her story is as unique and multi-faceted as her career.
Born in Japan, Grace’s family moved to Hawaii just after she was born. Her friends were typical of the Hawaii community: a mix of backgrounds, cultures and heritages, a true “melting pot” of human diversity. This experience later proved to be valuable to her as an individual, a professional, and a world traveler.
In many ways, Grace’s childhood was the usual combination of school, friends and family activities. Her mother wanted her children to experience a balanced life, so instead of attending a music conservatory, Grace and her younger brother went to an academic school, played with friends, did their homework and practiced piano, just like many children.
What was different for Grace began with her mother. An amateur pianist passionate about classical music, she introduced Grace to the piano when she was 9 months old. “The piano and books were always my favorite toys in the house – it was a very natural evolution. [My mother] would sit down with me everyday at the piano, and it was like a game, our fun time together.” Grace grew up playing with friends, going to school, finishing her homework – and “playing” piano.
Grace’s intelligence, combined with her strong academics, could have led her to pursue any field she chose. Her interests are as diverse as the community she grew up in: medicine, animals, writing, history, photography. She knew whatever she did she wanted to help people. “I actually had no plans to become a concert pianist! I just went out on stage and did what was natural to me – playing the piano was fun, but it was definitely not something that I thought of pursuing for my life.” Grace’s desire to help people motivated her to pursue medicine. But an experience in her last year of high school changed everything: “[W]hen I went to New York for the first time, and performed for the first time at Carnegie Hall … I realized that music was something that I loved too much to give up, and that I couldn’t imagine one day in my life where I could not touch the piano. That’s when I made the decision to pursue it as my life.”
Heartfelt concern for those devastated in Chile and hoping my dearest family and friends are all staying safe in Hawaii... 2010-02-27» more updates