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What started in the ashes of the pandemic is now seeing the light of day. And, like the Phoenix, Ellensburg singer/songwriter Grady Fortier is seeing his work rise up and be noticed.

The 16-year-old Ellensburg High School junior released his first professional pop song “Royalty” Thursday night on the musical platforms iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube and others.

Fortier has been active in the Valley Musical Theater and EHS musicals and plays. Now his music is available as the music industry tries to settle into some sense of pre-pandemic life.

“I wrote this song in May of 2019 about the time that COVID hit Ellensburg and everything shut down. I put down the instrumental tracks sitting on my bedroom floor in my room. Then started working on the lyrics later.

“I’ve written many songs and I’ve written them very differently. Sometimes I write the lyrics first, then add the instrumental. With ‘Royalty,’ I had the very angry instrumental and based the lyrics off of that. Where sometimes I write and then go back to it later. With this one, I wrote it in 20 minutes. It just flowed.”

The initial vocal tracks were cut at Quinton Davis Studios in Tacoma, where he got the gist of the song down before coming back to Ellensburg to finish the project at Griswold’s Stupid Rooster Studios this past summer.

Jon and Becky Griswold play with the Mel Peterson Collection, the Ellensburg Big Band, Under the Covers and a variety of other Ellensburg groups, as well as do studio work.

“Becky is my voice teacher, so I knew her. While we were doing voice lessons, I played her one of my songs and she suggested we work together,” Fortier said.

Becky contributed keyboards to the song and Jon did a little bit of bass work as well as doing the mix as the project engineer.

“He’s a really talented kid,” said Jon, who does all the engineer work for the Big Band videos. “He has an absolutely incredible ear. I’ve been doing this for a lot of years. He hears something in the mix that I didn’t even pick up. He was right every time.”

Putting a definite genre on “Royalty” probably doesn’t do it justice other than it has a driving beat, isolating ideas of the day and life of a teenager making his way along in the 21st century.

“He came to us with a bunch of tracks that were arranged already. I mixed them with a little mojo to make them sound radio ready,” Jon said. “I did a little bit of editing on the vocal tracks.

“He’s a really good writer. A lot of his stuff is radio ready already. It’s kind of crazy for a 16-year-old kid. He’s got a natural knack for it.”

Becky agreed. “What Jon and I are doing is not only audio engineering, but helping with production. I’m serving as the producer — what sounds good, what doesn’t sound good,” she said.

“Grady is very good at doing that as well, so he’s a co-producer. Jon is the engineer and doing the mix. Jon played bass on the track and I played piano.”

Fortier has other works in the mix, but “Royalty” is now available on all the music platforms.

Rodney Harwood: award-winning journalist and columnist. Lover of golf and the written word. I can be reached at


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