With his vulnerable voice, cosmic soundscapes, and arresting arrangements, Greg Best is defining a new age of composition for the independent artist. Born in Rochester, New York, Best was raised in a musically diverse culture that has defined his sonic evolution to this day. From a very early age, he began to follow the music he heard inside, knowing it was leading him on a journey of self-discovery and earnest expression.
In 2007, Best enrolled at Nazareth College where he studied jazz composition and music production. Under his predecessor, the late jazz and contemporary composer Paul Smoker, Best began to trust his ears and instincts more than ever before and started to blend his unique sense of atmospheric textures with chord voicings he attributes to jazz pianist Bill Evans and contemporary composer Eric Whitacre.
Following his graduation in 2011, Best endured severe emotional trauma after the suicides of his cousin, a college professor, and a friend all within only months of each other. Best has struggled with severe depression since he was a child and developed panic disorder in his early 20s. He describes music as his “hope for survival in a culture of denial,” and is an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Been Through Hell (released in 2018) is about Best’s interactions with others while grieving the losses by suicide. In the song, he addresses the people he describes as wanting him to be “back to normal.”
“People wanted me to smile more, to be more energetic and outgoing, to essentially put on a completely different personality. Someone had even had the audacity to ask me, ‘Can you speed up your healing process?’ But I couldn’t do that. Life is just different now. I can’t go back to who I was. I have to find a new normal. I won’t deny how it awful it feels to lose the people I love, and I won’t deny how dark and lonely it feels to live with an illness like depression. But I know hope exists. There are excellent people and resources that can help us all work through our own darkness.”
Best’s latest work is a series of EPs, beginning with Homecoming. In these works, Best urges his listeners that they are not alone in their pain and grief. All proceeds go to suicide prevention organizations with hope that scientific research as well as normalizing the dialogue about mental health will help bring an end to the cultural stigma and save many people’s lives.
“There is a cultural narrative that shames our grief and our strong emotions, and that’s just flat-out wrong. Our emotions need to exist and suppressing them is not only unhealthy, but life-threatening. Music and the arts provide us with healthy ways to express our emotions; ways that don’t hurt ourselves or other people. Grief is a process with no time limit. Music and the arts give us time and space to grieve; time that we may not predict an end to, but time that keeps leading us to hope again and again by joining others. This might be the best way we can live through loss—in finding hope with others, we might find home again.”