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Pouring Emotion into Art and Music


Pouring Emotion into Art and Music

“Expressive, melodic, and virtuosic, DeGrazia’s music is an emotional journey that evokes the spirits of Carlos Montoya and Paco Peña."  Meet Domingo DeGrazia who combines Spanish guitar rhythms with the passion and flair of Flamenco guitar and happens to be also the youngest  son of famous painter, Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia.

Domingo DeGrazia was born in Phoenix, Arizona and raised in the desert southwest. Youngest son of the late artist Ted DeGrazia, Domingo carries on the family legacy for artistry and diversity.Domingo DeGrazia was born in Phoenix, Arizona and raised in the desert southwest. Youngest son of the late artist Ted DeGrazia, Domingo carries on the family legacy for artistry and diversity.ANNICK:  Thank you for being with us, Domingo. You were born in  North America and raised in the Southwest United States by the son of Italian immigrants and a Native American mother who had a deep love and respect for the arts. Your father, Ettore "Ted" DeGrazia, was a famous painter, a Modernist. Was your father able to teach you how to paint?

Domingo: Thanks for talking with me. My dad taught me how to sketch, but he died when I was 8, so I never really had the chance to learn painting from him. Later in life I learned a lot by studying my dad’s work and talking with people that knew him. To be an artist it seems that you need be able to connect with people on an emotional level as well as knowing the technical side of your craft. Art and music are done best when the artist can pour emotion into their work. As I was growing up, I had a thousand questions for my dad, but after he passed I had to do a lot of searching for the answers. I had to look for answers both from others and from inside. In an odd way, my dad helped me understand myself and today that allows me to dig deep and connect on an emotional level.

Domingo DeGrazia CD coverDomingo DeGrazia CD coverANNICK:  I heard that your father only wanted to be known as a human being. How do you relate to him? Do you see yourself in him, sometimes?

Domingo: I had a privileged look at both the artist and the man. There was certainly a public side and private side, but he was humble and he remembered clearly his upbringing. All my life people have been telling me stories about my dad. I’m continually amazed by the vibrant tales people tell about him, even now, years after his passing. He connected with a huge number of people and he lives on in the stories they tell about him. I try to emulate some of his approaches to being in public and dealing with the media.

Domingo DeGrazia and Beth Dauni Concert at the DeGrazia Gallery In the Sun on April 1, 2020, Tucson. Domingo DeGrazia and Beth Dauni Concert at the DeGrazia Gallery In the Sun on April 1, 2020, Tucson.ANNICK:  Obviously you did not choose to become a painter but a musician and a wonderful one. How young were you when you discovered your love for music? Your talent is indescribable.

Domingo: Contrary to popular belief, I do paint, but not very well. In the arts, music is my calling. I was dancing (trying to) with headphones on at age 3; you can image how big the headphones were on me at that time. Even with that, I’m probably one of the few kids to fail out of 4th grade band class. Structured music classes were never my thing. I went off on my own and I started writing songs on piano at age 10, and moved to guitar and bass at about 12. I’m not sure how much talent I have, but I certainly love to play.

Domingo DeGrazia and Beth Dauni Concert at the DeGrazia Gallery In the Sun on April 1, 2020, Tucson. Domingo DeGrazia and Beth Dauni Concert at the DeGrazia Gallery In the Sun on April 1, 2020, Tucson.ANNICK:  Did you always want to be a musician or did it come to you after your studies as a gift from God? You are a very well educated man. It's just incredible all you have done. You became a licensed pilot at 17, and a licensed helicopter pilot at 19. You have a Masters degree in Aeronautical Science and a Jurist Doctorate degree in law and you served as a court appointed defense attorney for Pinal county and acted as a prosecuting attorney for the Ak-Chin Indian Community. Are you practicing law today? Do you teach guitar?

Domingo: I think I was born a musician; it just took decades to refine my craft while I had a regular job. Music is one of the constant threads in my life, even though I quit playing at least once a year. There is some part of music and the music business that are glorious and beautiful, but other parts are just punishing, so it’s nice to have other intellectual pursuits. Both my mother and my father were huge influences on my artistry and in my education. I certainly felt a familial need to get an education, but college was also something I wanted to do to establish myself as a professional.

Nuevo Flamenco - World Music with Domingo DeGraziaNuevo Flamenco - World Music with Domingo DeGraziaAs I grew up, there were a lot people that expected great things from me, and some that believed I would amount to nothing. Some parts of my education came without effort, and others I succeeded in through pure stubborn persistence. I think I got lucky in that I really enjoy learning and I write great music when I’m deep in study. I do practice law and, although I try to practice part-time, it ends up being closer to full time. I used to teach guitar, but now I try not give more than 1 or 2 lessons to an individual. I am a self-taught musician, so I am a proponent of giving people the tools that allow them to learn on their own.

ANNICK:  You play the Spanish Guitar with such great passion. It is music coming from the heart. Did you always preferred Flamenco and Latin music to other type of music? Do you play classical guitar as well?

Domingo DeGrazia: I have always been drawn to Spanish guitar music. Spanish guitar music for me combines passion with exotic rhythmic flair.Domingo DeGrazia: I have always been drawn to Spanish guitar music. Spanish guitar music for me combines passion with exotic rhythmic flair.Domingo: My draw to Spanish and Flamenco guitar music is the passion and rhythm of the music. I did play classical guitar, and still do to some extent. When I perform though, I like to give people an upbeat fun experience. Classical music sometimes gets a little too formal and stuffy to dance to. There is too much worry in the world, when people come to my concerts I want them to forget all the seriousness for a little while and have a good time. For many years my heart has been in playing Spanish guitar music. I still study many types of music, but I’m firmly rooted in the rhythm of Spanish guitar. Although, it has come to my attention that when I play, I beat on my guitar a little more than most Spanish players, which would probably explain the new crack in the guitar.

ANNICK:  Do you write your own songs and own music?

Guitarist Domingo DeGrazia & violinist Beth Daunis create music that is distinctly Southwestern, even as they embrace influences from around the world. DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun events calendar - July 2, 2010Guitarist Domingo DeGrazia & violinist Beth Daunis create music that is distinctly Southwestern, even as they embrace influences from around the world. DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun events calendar - July 2, 2010Domingo: Yes, I’ve written 95% of what you hear me play. Oddly, I could never find recordings of the rhythms and melodies I imagined, so I had to write them myself. Even when I was young I can remember not completely liking the songs other people had written and feeling like I could write better songs, or at least, more to my liking. That led me to disregard formal music lessons, to become self-taught, and just write what sounded good. I really enjoy writing music and the journey of each song. Some songs are written and re-written over a month, while others go years before the song is played live. It really is a fascinating journey.

ANNICK:  You have produced a CD called ‘The Bluest Sky ‘with your friend, Beth Daunis who is an excellent violinist. And both of you were voted a Critic’s Choice nominee for Best Guitarist and best String Player in the Tucson Area Music Awards. I have noticed some Celtic melodies mixed in with the Latin melodies. The upbeat is wonderful. Where did you get your inspiration from?

Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia, painter who died of cancer in 1982Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia, painter who died of cancer in 1982Domingo: I met Beth 2008 when she made a guest appearance at one of my performances. We had a great musical chemistry and I was eager to have her play to some of my non-typical songs. Once in a while I write a song that doesn’t fit in my typical style or a particular genre. For those songs I usually record them and put them on the shelf, so to speak, and wait for an opportunity to use them. When I met Beth, I had a few classical style songs that were shelved because I had no CD that they fit with. Songs like The Mocha Bean and Follow, were a natural fit with Beth’s playing. There are some songs on the Bluest Sky CD that have a definite Celtic feel, and others with a Gipsy, Spanish or Classical feel. It’s an amazing journey to collaborate on song writing. Often times I have an idea how a song will sound, and how the rhythm will sound with accompaniment. When the song is done though, sometimes it is entirely different in the best possible way. That is the essence of The Bluest Sky.

SAD SAD END by Ted DeGrazia. This limited edition serigraph was hand printed by Guy Maccoy in 1977 and contains thirty-four different colors.SAD SAD END by Ted DeGrazia. This limited edition serigraph was hand printed by Guy Maccoy in 1977 and contains thirty-four different colors.ANNICK:  Many artists get their inspiration from others. I think I recognize some Carlos Santana and the Gypsy Kings as well as Jamaican music but I could be wrong. Where do you get your rhythm from and how difficult is it to accomplish what you feel? It seems to come naturally.

Domingo: Two ideas that drive my song writing and rhythmic preference are a melody you can whistle and a rhythm you can tap your foot to. A lot of my drive to write songs is that I want to write a great song that combines rhythm, melody, and great song structure. I grew up listening to everything from Native American singers and drummers, to Stevie Wonder, to Rock, to old Country music on an ancient AM radio. It doesn’t matter the type of music or the artist, if it has a great melody or great rhythm, I naturally latch on to it. I wish I knew what my inspiration for writing music is. I hope that if I can figure out my inspiration I can tap into more ready. But like most art, the ideas pop out of nowhere at the strangest times. I just follow the inspiration and see how far it goes. One of my goals is to write songs that people will want to own and listen to 20 years from now.

If you think you know Ted DeGrazia because you've seen his oils of Indian children, think again. The sweep of his life's work is astonishing for both the range of mediums and styles that he worked in - from oils, watercolors and sketches to ceramics, textiles and stained glass.If you think you know Ted DeGrazia because you've seen his oils of Indian children, think again. The sweep of his life's work is astonishing for both the range of mediums and styles that he worked in - from oils, watercolors and sketches to ceramics, textiles and stained glass.ANNICK:  I am sure that you have charmed many people with your beautiful up beat Flamenco music for years. Do you only perform locally or do you travel all over the world? How big is your band?

Domingo: I perform anywhere in the world as either a soloist, a guest performer, or with a full band. The full band is five-piece, sometimes with dancers. We love traveling and welcome opportunities to play anywhere in the world.

ANNICK:  You are extremely versatile; you fly helicopters, skydive and scuba dive. What else do you excel in? How do you find time to do all of this?

1940s, Arizona artist Ted DeGrazia had little success finding a gallery to represent him, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. Ted and his wife Marion bought 10 isolated acres in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains to build a chapel, home and a small adjoining gallery to exhibit his originals.1940s, Arizona artist Ted DeGrazia had little success finding a gallery to represent him, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. Ted and his wife Marion bought 10 isolated acres in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains to build a chapel, home and a small adjoining gallery to exhibit his originals.Domingo: There were a lot of things in life that I took to very naturally. An old attorney told me that one day I would have to choose one career and focus on it. I think he was right. I’m finding that the trick is not to be good at many things, but to be great at a few things. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve been able have some continuous storylines in my life. One of those is music, and I feel like I’m just now starting to get my bearings and really excel. Finding time to do a lot in life is an odd concept for me. When I was really young, one of my older brothers passed away. Not too long after that, my dad passed away and it seemed as though my childhood was marked every few years by the loss of a loved one. Through those years I got to see that time is fleeting and life passes in a blink. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to make achievements and reach milestones, because I don’t want to run out of time and missed some opportunity. In that way I stay busy and don’t have a lot of idle time.

The DeGrazia Spanish Guitar bandThe DeGrazia Spanish Guitar bandANNICK:  Who are the musicians who perform with you? Will they perform with you in your upcoming concerts?

Domingo: The musicians I perform with in the Spanish Guitar band are Beth Daunis on violin, Jim Pavett on percussion, Mark Brugler on bass, and a host of other musicians that perform with us as guests. We play a lot in the Tucson area, as well as other cities where we have strong connections. Information about upcoming shows is at www.degraziamusic.com. I’m booked up to a year in advance, so checking the website is the best way to find out where I will be.

ANNICK:  How many CDs have you released and where can our readers purchase them?

Visit the De Grazia Gallery In the Sun - 6300 N Swan Rd., Tucson, AZ 85718 - degrazia.orgVisit the De Grazia Gallery In the Sun - 6300 N Swan Rd., Tucson, AZ 85718 - degrazia.orgDomingo: I have a several CDs out. There is the San Carlos Spanish Guitar CD, The Bluest Sky Guitar and Violin CD, the live concert CD, Live at the Paramount, Calendars Classical guitar, and the live Concert DVD from the Fox Theater. My music is available at iTunes, Amazon.com, CDBaby.com and many other on-line retailers as well as several places in Tucson including the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun.

ANNICK:  Anything you would to share with our readers, Domingo? Do you have any specific personal projects going on? What is your goal?

Mural by Ted DeGrazia in the Chapel at De Grazia Gallery In the Sun, Tucson, AZ - degrazia.orgMural by Ted DeGrazia in the Chapel at De Grazia Gallery In the Sun, Tucson, AZ - degrazia.orgDomingo: In the near future I will have several new CDs coming out. I’m happy to have my music on the new Ted DeGrazia CD, Please Remember Me, to be released 2011. That CD is filled with songs that my dad wrote while he had a band. It’s great stuff. My next Spanish Guitar CD, Nuance, will be out early 2012, and you should see Christmas songs and videos in the meantime. I also have some exciting and fun concert ideas, so come see us live. My musical goal is to write one more great song; after that one, I will focus on writing another.

ANNICK:  Thank you Domingo for spending some time with us. You are a terrific musician and I hope that many people will take the time to listen to your talent. Your music is uplifting and full great spirit.

Domingo: Thanks for talking with me.

De Grazia Gallery In the Sun.  What started as a small construction project in the early 1950s developed into a 10-acre National Historic District designed and built by acclaimed Arizona artist Ted DeGrazia. Click here to see Slide Show of The Galley in the Sun with music by Domingo DeGrazia and lead guitarist Dustin Jones.

Banner background painting by Kathryn Hackney

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