In October of 2015, at the 3rd Annual International Music and Entertainment Association Awards, Canadian singer/songwriter Billy Grima was the proud recipient of the Best Adult Contemporary Artist Award. For Grima, 2015 was a year of remarkable achievements, as his album Sugar & Cream received critical acclaim and radio airplay on more than 100 stations across North America and over 500 around the world.
Born in Australia, Grima started writing at a young age and was singing in the church choir by the age of eight, and when he was 15, Grima and his family moved to Toronto. His first album, I’m Just Standing, is a rock-pop blend influenced by the sounds of the 1980s. He followed this up with A Little Piece of Heaven, which was dedicated to the underprivileged, with all of the proceeds from the album’s sales going towards helping the homeless and children in need. In September of 2014, Grima released Sugar & Cream — produced and engineered by Pete Swann (Glass Tiger’s Alan Connely, Adrian and Justin Lifeson) — a collection of heartfelt songs about happiness, pain, and relationships both good and bad.
What was your childhood like? How did you initially become interested in music?
I had a good childhood, close family and never a dull moment. I have a big family as well as extended, many cousins, aunts and uncles.
I started singing in a church choir at the age of eight and I loved it. I entered my first singing contest at the age of 10 years old singing “I’m Gonna Knock On Your Door” by Donny Osmond.
Do you recall the first album you ever purchased for yourself? If so, what was it?
Yes, Frontiers by Journey
What is your songwriting process?
Most of the time, my idea starts with a melody and soon followed by a few lyrics. When I feel the hook melody, I just start building on it.
What was the recording process like for Sugar & Cream?
I really enjoyed writing this album. I felt like the sky was the limit when it came to creating this album. As a musician and performer, I tend to like many different styles of music and I have been told by many that this shows in my music.
How did Pete Swann help to shape the sound of the album?
Pete Swann is a great musician/producer. He understood my sound and my vision. As we progressed from song to song, it got easier and we found things blending very well together.
In your opinion, does being a musician require a thick skin?
Absolutely, you will always find that someone who will criticize what you write. As a musician, you can take what the listener says about the song and strive to make it better.
What contemporary musicians do you most admire?
Jason Mraz, Ed Sheeran, Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow.
What’s the best meal you’ve had recently?
My mother’s pasta dishes… to die for! LOL!
If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring musicians, what would it be?
Believe in yourself and don’t give up.
What are you working on next?
My fourth album.