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Women of Note: Nina Grollman

Photos by Alexandra Martin 

In 2013, Nina Grollman was a senior in high school, excited to be an award winner for that year’s Celebration of Women and Their Music.

Now in 2019, Grollman returned to the Fargo stage to perform at the 22nd Annual Celebration of Women and Their Music, but this time as a mentor. Since her 2013 showing here in town, she has graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from Juilliard and performed in both Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, and now she lives in Brooklyn where she has been working on a new musical project.

“It was the coolest, coolest, coolest thing ever,” said Grollman, speaking of her first experience with a Celebration of Women and Their Music. When she was told she would be recognized as an award winner back then, she was also asked to open at The Spirit Room for one of the guest act’s for that weekend: Raining Jane. Grollman said, “At the time, they were my favorite band. I was obsessed with them, I thought they were so cool. And then I got to open for them! It was such a cool experience because they really took me under their wing.”
Women Of Note Nina Grollman
Photo by Alexander Shaw

Grollman explains the experience as something really special to her, saying, “Seeing them play, even just seeing them sound-check was cool because they were real pros and I learned so much just from that experience. I’ll never forget it.”

On January 17, six years after her show with Raining Jane, Grollman debuted her new musical persona Softee at The Spirit Room. In this pre-show for A Celebration of Women and Their Music, she was able to return to the spot it all started and start something new. “It’s so serendipitous that I’m now back in the same room that I did that with them once upon a time,” she said.

Grollman saw The Spirit Room here in Fargo as an appropriate place to start her new path as her pseudonym Softee. “It was special to do it here. I mean, really special,” she said. “It just couldn’t have been a nicer environment to debut in…’cause it is scary. You’re jumping off a cliff, in a sense. You’re trying something totally new. These people here knew me as one thing. In high school, I had an identity around town as this ukulele playing, coffee shop, acoustic girl. But now I’m coming back, and it’s scary to feel like I have to deliver and it did feel like a lot of pressure.” However, the second she walked onto the stage, she was met with everyone smiling and clapping. “The support couldn’t have been better,” she said.

In late March, Grollman hopes to release her first EP as Softee. This new pseudonym gives her the opportunity to grow in different directions that she had established for herself in high school and then on Broadway. She describes using her background in acting to help form this act. “When you can be someone else, it’s kind of theatrical in a sense. It’s cool, it’s fun,” she said.  “That’s what my thought process was behind this name Softee was. Softee sweet. It’s ice cream. It’s sugary. It’s light.”

Grollman hopes to embrace her favorite parts of pop music in this new act. “[Pop music] doesn’t take itself too seriously, at least I would hope not. That’s my favorite, and that’s what I want to be doing. Just irreverent and not taking itself too seriously. It’s sparkly fun, but also trying to communicate something. “I just want people to dance to my stuff. That’s the goal: to get people to dance,” Grollman said. In the first song of her set at this year’s Celebration of Women and Their Music, this goal of hers came to fruition. As she started her set, she was joined on stage by a spunky young audience member. The pink tutu-clad toddler danced around on stage with Grollman as she sang, leaving the audience laughing and clapping along. As the young girl bounced around while Grollman showcased her impressive range, they personified the power of music and the strength behind the whole event.

Written by Alexandra Martin

Alexandra Martin is the editor of Fargo Monthly. She hails from Huntsville, Alabama, but graduated from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri with a degree in Fashion Communications. When she's not in the office, she is busy taking care of her small zoo of pets, cooking up vegetables, or listening to true-crime podcasts.

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