By: Kevin Rolfe
For the next two weekends, Velour Live Music Gallery will be celebrating the 10th Anniversary of their highly acclaimed all female showcase Les Femmes De Velour. This is one of our favorite events of the year here at UCR. The showcase has been expanded from one weekend to two and will be featuring 26 incredible female artists. We caught up with Cherish DeGraaf who will be performing on Night 1 (2/20). Here is our conversation. Enjoy!
Utah Concert Review: How did you get connected with Les Femmes De Velour?
Cherish: So I started doing open mics back in 2017 at Velour and it just kind of progressed from there to doing monthly acoustic showcases to playing with my band. It just kind of naturally evolved. Cory asked me to play.
UCR: It must feel pretty good to get that invite.
Cherish: For sure! It was definitely a cool experience to get invited to play. I played last year as well and that was pretty cool I’m excited to play it again this year.
UCR: So how did music become a part of your life? How did you decide you wanted to write songs and perform?
Cherish: So I’ve always loved listening to music. I think my first experience creating music was in 7th grade when I joined choir. I just always loved singing. From there I learned how to play the guitar. I was just playing around one day, I think I was a Sophmore in high school, I wrote a couple songs. I just kept them to myself for a while and by the time I was a senior in high school I was performing at those open mics. It was something that I was always drawn to. The emotion and the connection that music generates for me.
UCR: Are you originally from the Provo area?
Cherish: I am. UCR: I think Provo has one of the best music scenes around. Especially for a city this size. What do you think it is about this place that brings out so many good musicians, bands, and artists?
Cherish: I think Velour, in particular, is set up in a way so it can foster creative endeavors. There is such a diverse community and we’re all there trying to have the same goal and helping each other succeed. It’s a really cool community to be a part of. Just to be able to work with all the other musicians in the community as well, like putting on a show together, it’s a team effort.
UCR: What kind of expectations should people heading out to see these Les Femmes shows have?
Cherish: I think they should be ready to have a good time. There are a lot of different genres. Each night is kind of specialized to a genre. So the night I’m playing is more folksy. I’d say come with an open mind and support your friends.
UCR: Do you feel like there is a message that this series of shows is trying to convey? And if so, what do you think that is?
Cherish: Definitely. So Les Femmes is strickly female-fronted, or female-identifying fronted bands. So this gives us a space to say, “We’re here in the music scene as well. And this is what we’re going to celebrate.” Our femininity through music. And that’s not to say that male-dominated bands are not as good or don’t deserve the spotlight. But it’s a very dominated industry as well. So it’s just giving us a chance to make our voice more prominent and stronger.
UCR: Totally! I love that the women in the Provo music scene have this opportunity. And hopefully, that will begin to help people recognize that there are some amazing female artists in the local music scene. So often there are people who will say that they don’t like a girl band or whatever and I just think they’re totally missing out. Take the band Roadie for example. I believe they’re playing the same night as you. (They are) I don’t think anyone can listen to Aubry sing and not recognize how great she is. They’re doing themselves a disservice by being so dismissive.
Cherish: I totally agree! Aubrey is so talented, and she works so hard. It’s seriously an honor to be opening up for her.
UCR: Do you remember the first time you performed live?
Cherish: The first time was actually at Velour when I did that open mic my senior year. It was pretty cool. It was a really cool experience. I got to meet some people who had been involved in the scene for a while and I’ve been going back ever since. It was definitely a scary experience, but it was also empowering in a sense. Because this was something I had created and it was something I felt confident in. I love getting up there and sharing a part of my self and making that connection with the crowd.
UCR: Do you remember the first concert you went to?
Cherish: My first concert was Echosmith. I went and saw them up in Murray. It was another female-fronted band. It was really cool to see her up there sharing her music. I thought, “I want to do that one day!”.
UCR: What would you say has been the best concert you’ve ever been to?
Cherish: I would have to say Gregory Alan Isakov in 2018. He played up in Salt Lake City at the Eccles Theater. It was the most connected I had ever felt to an artist in my life. Joshua James opened for him. Greg is a more international name I feel like, but Joshua James is more local and to see him open for someone who’s so prominent was a really cool experience.
UCR: I was actually at that concert! And you’re right, it was amazing. And so cool seeing Joshua come out for the encore to sing with Isakov.
Cherish: Yep! Yeah, Gregory is incredible the way he writes and especially the way he performs. It’s actual magic. I love it.
UCR: Last question! What would you consider your best live performance to date?
Cherish: I think my favorite would have to be last year’s Les Femmes show. I had a really awesome band. It was my first time performing with a band. It was impactful and really cool to see everything come to life in a new light.
UCR: Will you be performing with a band this year as well?
Cherish: I’m performing with a band again. It will be a different setup. We’re trying something new this time, but it should be good.
UCR: Well I look forward to checking it out. Thank you so much for your time Cherish!
Cherish DeGraaf will be performing on Night 1 (2/20) of Les Femmes De Velour. Roadie, The Penny Candies, and Stephanie Mabey are also on the bill. You can get your tickets at the door or click here to buy online. See you there!