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‘Feel-good songs’: Duo to perform classic rock as part of virtual concert series

Della Bustamante, left, and Grace Marks will perform a virtual concert on Friday, June 5. (Courtesy of Grace Marks)

Grace Marks’ grandfather knew her calling before she realized she was destined to perform.

Her late grandfather, Mark Medoff, was a well-known director in the state and showcased Marks in a few theatrical performances. Then came her role in “Annie,” which put Marks on her artistic path.

“I didn’t really know how to sing, so (Medoff) sent me to voice lessons with Della (Bustamante),” Marks said. “But I think he knew I wanted to do music. He just was the one to really push me and be, like, ‘You’re going to do this professionally,’ and ever since, I started pushing myself to get out there and perform. It just got easier and easier, and now it’s what I want to do with my life. He really was the one that said, ‘This is what you want to do; you have a knack for that.’ It was really helpful. I am really grateful for that. I’ve been doing it a majority of my life.”

Through the years, Marks and Bustamante supported each other at their gigs, while Marks continued to take lessons from Bustamante. The two began playing together a couple years ago and will perform a virtual concert on Friday, June 5, as part of the “Our Fair New Mexico – A Virtual Concert Series,” presented by the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with state museums, historic sites and cultural institutions.

“Della is actually my voice coach. I take guitar lessons, voice lessons, piano lessons, music theory lessons with her,” Marks said. “I’ve doing that since I was 13, I think.”

The concert will feature several songs from the 1960s.

“We had some Bob Dylan, some feel-good Bob Dylan songs,” Marks said. “Most of them are feel-good songs just to give everyone a little bit of a break in the quarantine just so they know that it’s all going to be all right eventually.”

Other songs in the virtual concert include “Lean on Me” and “House of the Rising Sun.” The show was filmed in April at The Range in Marks’ hometown, Las Cruces. The experience of filming the concert without a live audience was unfamiliar territory for Marks.

“It was very strange,” she said. “I didn’t really think about it until it was happening. You usually play a song and there’s some clapping. It was very weird. There was no clapping whatsoever, and everyone just kind of keeps going, and I was, like, all right, we’ll just have to wait and see if this actually a good choice in June when this comes out. It was a little weird.”

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