West Side News

GCHS grads keep chasing musical dream

Matthew and Sarah Graham take break from Nashville grind, return home for performance

Enlarge Image Buy This Photo
Grove City High School graduates Sarah and Matthew Graham -- together, the Nashville-based acoustic duo Black Baccara -- are pictured Saturday, July 27, at Sarah's parents' home in Grove City. Black Baccara performed last weekend at the Plum Run Winery.

Although the annual Homecoming Celebration and Alumni Softball Tournament were held last weekend in Grove City, it was just a coincidence that Matthew and Sarah Graham also paid a visit to their hometown.

The couple, who now live in Nashville and perform as an acoustic duo under the name Black Baccara, had come home to back up a friend who was performing at the Lazy Daze Festival in Grandview Heights.

The Grahams were able to arrange a concert of their own at the Plum Run Winery in Grove City.

"It was really exciting to be able to come back home and play in front of so many friends and family," Matthew said.

"It was a lot of fun. It was neat to see everybody and to see how much we are loved," Sarah said.

Sarah graduated from Grove City High School in 2001 and her husband followed the next year.

"We really didn't know each other in school," Sarah said.

They met when Matthew, who was asked to join Sarah's brother's band, stopped by her family's house for a practice.

There was an immediate connection between the two of them, Sarah said.

The attraction "was pretty much instantaneous," Matthew said.

About eight years ago, the couple joined a country band.

"We played a lot of fairs and festivals all around central Ohio," Sarah said.

Perhaps the band's biggest thrill was opening for the Charlie Daniels Band and the Doobie Brothers in their hometown, she said.

The band ultimately broke up, but Sarah and Matthew didn't. They were married in 2008.

Although Sarah worked as a booking agent for a local talent agency, the Grahams stopped playing music.

"I didn't play the guitar for a really long time," Matthew said.

"One day, he just picked up the guitar and started playing and he came up with this melody," Sarah said. "I started singing along with him and we ended up writing a song called By the Ocean."

"I have no idea why I decided to pick up the guitar that day," Matthew said.

"I strongly feel it was God-given," Sarah said. "I think we were meant to play music."

They moved to Nashville in 2011 -- not because of music, but because Matthew had enrolled in Belmont University.

"That was something we talked about a lot since we moved to Nashville," Sarah said. "If we've moved to Nashville, we need to do music."

"I'd describe our music as a little bit country, a little bit folk and a little bit Americana," Matthew said.

Black Baccara plays at open-mic nights around Nashville, at songwriter rounds and at local clubs.

"We're kind of learning how things do down there," Sarah said. "We're learning the places we like to go, the places we don't and the places where it's good to try open-mic night."

Nashville is full of aspiring musicians and songwriters.

"The competition makes it tough to get out there and be heard," Matthew said. "But all the people who have the same goal, we tend to support each other. It's nice to know so many people who share the same passion."

The duo chose the name Black Baccara largely for personal reasons, Sarah said.

"My grandmother was a gospel singer and she had her grandchildren singing in church at an early age. She's a big influence and inspiration for me," she said. "Her name is Rosalie. Also, at our wedding, during the ceremony we exchanged black baccara roses with our mothers."

One of the duo's songs, Rosalie, was written in honor of Sarah's grandmother.

More information about the duo is available at facebook. com/blackbaccaramusic, where visitors can download the songs By the Ocean and I Want You, as well as access videos.

Their music also is available at reverbnation.com.

"Right now, our next goal is to get back into the studio and make some more demos," Matthew said. "If we could end up touring with our music ... "

"That would be the dream," Sarah said.