Vocal coach Renee Grant-Williams passed away on Friday (Nov. 12) at Southern Hills hospital in Nashville after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Grant-Williams has worked with many country greats including, Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, The Chicks, and Garth Brooks, as well as rock and pop artists such as Miley Cyrus, Scott Stapp (Creed), Christina Aguilera, Linda Ronstadt, Ben Folds, Huey Lewis, Bob Weir (Grateful Dead) and Dave Mustaine (Metallica/Megadeth).
In addition to her training offerings in Nashville, she’s conducted international seminars in countries including South America, Europe, and Australia. For 10 years Grant-Williams conducted an annual Vocal Master Class, an intense all-day seminar that attracted attendees from all over the world. In 2009 she introduced the Mini Clinic, a more intimate format that allowed each singer to receive one-on-one training.
In 2002 AMACOM Books NY published her book, Voice Power: Using Your Voice to Captivate, Persuade, and Command Attention.
As a professional speaker herself, Grant-Williams also provided coaching to business leaders, attorneys, public speakers, and politicians. A 10-year member of the National Speakers Association, she presented communication skill training programs to associations and business organizations throughout the United States.
Grant-William’s formal education took place at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she also taught. She served as the Director of the Division of Vocal Music at the University of California, Berkeley, and worked as a Musical Director at the Actors Studio in Manhattan before eventually establishing permanent residence in Nashville.
She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1993 after a routine visit with her doctor.
Her determination to live life to its fullest while battling the debilitating disease served as an inspiration to everyone who knew her. She shared details of her battle in 2019 admitting, “Everything from putting on my shoes to ordering a cheeseburger is an effort beyond anything others can imagine. Like a boa constrictor, Parkinson’s Disease wraps itself around your body and mind strangling your will to accomplish. You must motivate yourself 100% of the time to do even the little everyday things, let alone try to live a full and rich life.” Her motivation to keep fighting the best way she knew how set a great example for others on how to live boldly against the odds and face them head on.
In addition to her work, Grant-Williams was known for her sense of adventure, determination, and wit.
She is survived by her sisters Judie Fisher, Susan Rodiek, and Billie Custer; her nieces and nephews Lisa McAllister Nickels & Lon McAllister, Kelley Custer Whealton, Heidi Shotwell, and Casey Custer; cousins Russell Blowers, Karen Witter, and Christina Connell; and longtime companions Steve Goldinger, and Elsie the studio Cat.
In lieu of her annual birthday bash, a Celebration of Life fundraiser to benefit Parkinson’s Research is being planned for Grant-Williams on Jan. 8, 2022. More details are being finalized.