As acclaimed singer/songwriters in their own right, both Mike Grayson and Molly Reed brought a solid musical history to their relationship when they married in 2013. Grayson spent the better part of 13 years as the lead singer for pop/rock band MIKESCHAIR, with whom he released three full-length albums and scored five Top 5 radio singles. Meanwhile, Reed spent a few years as one-half of duo City Harbor and has become an in-demand songwriter, penning hits recorded by everyone from Marie Osmond and Amy Grant to Hillary Scott, Colton Dixon and Francesca Battistelli, among others. On their own, Mike and Molly shine, but together, they’re a powerful creative force to be reckoned with as they embark on a new journey, side by side, as Grayson|Reed
Mike and Molly met their first week of college as entering freshman at Nashville’s Belmont University. Over the next 10 years, the aspiring artists floated in and out of one another’s social circles, gradually building a unique friendship that eventually became a strong relational foundation when they started dating in 2012. The following year, they said “I do,” and two years later, they welcomed their daughter, Grailey.
When the couple initially got married, they were both devoted to their separate musical interests; but when Grailey came along, they realized that moving, literally, in two different directions wasn’t going to be sustainable for the long haul. Still, they wanted to honor their individual commitments, dreaming of potentially joining forces one day in the distant future. That day came sooner than expected.
“God had to move a lot of mountains. A lot of doors had to open and close for it to even be an option, and all of that happened and more,” Mike shares, “which just made it so clear to us that for this season in our life, it’s where we’re supposed to be.”
“We’ve both felt strongly that this was continuing to be our calling,” Molly echoes. “A lot of people were like, ‘Oh, after you have a baby, you’ll probably want to just stay home.’ And I thought maybe that was what I would want to do, but God just made it clear, like, ‘Now, I want you to continue to write and sing and do it with Mike.’ It’s our dream scenario.”
Harnessing their mutual love for songwriting and more than a decade of experience in the music industry, the husband and wife decided they needed to test the waters to see if they could write together as a team before moving forward. Ironically, they had never written a song together before forming Grayson|Reed.
“You hear horror stories of married couples trying to work together, and so we just never really did,” Mike admits, adding, “We loved working together. We loved the idea of the family unit and being able to do ministry together; and then other people actually liked it, which is a big part of the puzzle.”
“It’s authentically a really great working dynamic,” Molly adds. “Like any co-write situation, you learn each other’s ways. You learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”
For the duo’s Centricity Music debut, they combined the strength of their voices and songwriting muscle to craft a six-song set that finds Mike and Molly trading lead vocals and harmonizing with the ease of the veteran artists they actually are. The pair is a triple threat on all fronts with both members writing, singing and playing all of their original material. The sound borrows very few nuances from their previous endeavors. Instead, Grayson|Reed has unlocked a musical identity that’s uniquely their own, showcasing organic instrumentation, tight harmonies and sharp rhythmic pop sensibilities. However, no matter the sonic dressing, it’s their lyrics that lie at the core of everything they do. After all, they’re both singer/songwriters at heart.
“I just think writing is a central point. Everything starts with a song for us,” Mike offers.
For Molly, songwriting is a natural extension of who she is and something she says she’ll always pursue no mater what direction her musical path takes. “I just love the art of creating a song and getting to collaborate with other writers and other artists and dream for them,” she says. “For me, it’s such an essential part of my creative mind to wear different hats and be ‘Molly the artist’ and ‘Molly the songwriter.’”
With family and genuine collaboration at the center of Grayson|Reed, a song about marriage seems an appropriate setting for the duo’s first single—a powerful, transparent ballad called “Fight For You.”
Challenged by a viral video that captured Eugene Peterson and Bono discussing the lack of authenticity in Christian music, the husband and wife team decided to pen a song that revealed the ins and outs of marriage.
“People who know you the best know how to hurt you the most,” Mike concedes. The couple contends that loving someone is a choice you make every single day.
“It’s waking up every day and saying, ‘I know I can do one of two things: I can build you up, or I can break you down.’ And it’s making that choice to say, ‘I know how to make you feel great. I need to say those things to you,’” Mike says. “I hope this song is literally a challenge to all of us, especially in a marriage, to wake up and choose each other; but it’s also relationships in general. It’s with your kids; it’s with your friends—the relationships that matter. You can wake up and choose to build those people up, and that drastically changes things.”
Culture has manipulated people’s views of marriage and distorted love into something that isn’t real. With “Fight For You,” Grayson|Reed hopes to break some of those misconceptions. “It’s so unfortunate, but in today’s culture, the days that it doesn’t look like a movie—which are most days—people are like, ‘Oh, this isn’t right. We’ll just run away. Let’s not do this. I don’t want to deal with it.’ But the reality of love and a God-ordained marriage is you fight through those moments together, and you fight for that person and for their heart,” Molly adds. “You fight to love them. You choose that.”
They both admit selecting such a vulnerable song as the pairing’s first single—let alone the song that would serve as listeners’ introduction to the newly-formed duo—felt scary. “This was the greatest risk of a song for us to put out there, but we felt like it could hold the greatest reward, too, and really connect,” Molly affirms. “I just think people need to hear loving, hard truth. They need to hear that it’s not easy. It’s not all roses, but gosh, it’s so worth it.”
Listeners will find plenty to connect with on Grayson|Reed’s preliminary set. The fiery, country-tinged “Can’t Get Enough” finds the two singers digging deep into their writing well to find vibrant adjectives to describe the scope of God’s infinite love.
“We wanted to get as colorful as we could get with the lyric. God’s love is so much bigger than we can even describe,” Mike shares, adding, “It’s one of my favorite songs we’ve written.”
The lyrics of the jangly, sassy “Walk” are equally as creative, simulating a reel of descriptive visuals that back up words with action. “We can talk all day long about our faith, but if we’re not showing it and living it out and walking it out, what good is it? What’s the point?” Molly asks of the song’s impetus.
Whether writing about the Christian journey, marriage or redemption, Grayson|Reed simply desires to craft music from an intensely honest place—even if their vulnerability shines a light on the messy parts of life.
“We’ve always felt like if it doesn’t resonate with us, it’s not going to resonate with other people,” Mike says. “So I think, first and foremost, the goal is to sit down and write music that truly feels authentic to us.”
Authenticity is their litmus test, and if a song moves them, they’ve found it’s potentially a track worth cutting. Yet, their ultimate goal is to be obedient to whatever God calls them to; and for this season, His calling undoubtedly comes in the form of Grayson|Reed. “We feel called to share our journey, and we want people to be a part of it,” Molly says. “If this is still kicking five, ten years down the road—we’ll have speed bumps, you better believe it, but we hope to just honor God through it all and walk it out well.”