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Local artist honors Portage plane crash victim in debut album

January 30, 2019

In the first song of her debut album, recent Portage High School graduate Grace Gladem pays tribute to the aunt she never met.

Amy Caravello, a 21-year-old Poynette resident, and her fiancé, Bruce Enders, 23, of Madison died in a Portage plane crash on March 29, 1986. The engine of the small Cessna plane Enders piloted failed shortly after they took off from Portage Municipal Airport, according to news archives.

They crashed into the ice of Silver Lake and died instantly. It was “a terrible situation that could not have been predicted or controlled,” the 17-year-old Gladem said.

Based on what she’s learned about Caravello, Gladem has long wondered if she and her aunt might otherwise have been best friends. “Amy’s Song,” one of five on the album “Grace,” which Gladem released Jan. 12, explores this idea and how she expects to finally meet Caravello in heaven.

“Everyone tells me she was a lot like me,” Gladem said. Caravello was described as quirky and bold, Gladem said, possessing a “strong personality and always speaking her mind” — traits Gladem sees in herself.

“When I was little, and even now, people would say, ‘Oh, Amy used to do that,’” Gladem said. “And I became jealous of everyone who got to meet her because I never got that experience.

“For my family, I’m trying to carry on her legacy because she was such a big piece of their hearts.”

Professional musician Beth Kille of Madison recorded, mixed, mastered and produced the album, which is available for purchase at facebook.com/GraceGmusic.

Kille has known Gladem for several years as the director of Girls Rock Camp Madison, where Gladem also met Jenna Joanis, a Madison-based musician who has played in a number of local bands.

On “Grace,” Joanis plays percussion, bass and guitar. Gladem plays guitar, piano and sings on the album.

“Grace just has this ethereal, captivating voice where you can see people in the room sort of freeze when she starts singing,” Kille said. “You see that look of, ‘Wow, what’s going on?’

“There might be a busy crowd wherever she’s playing, but as soon as she steps up to microphone, magic happens.”

Gladem’s album features three original songs and two covers. Gladem’s personal favorite is called “Something More,” which she said already has been played on Madison radio stations.

“It’s really a song for the times we’re living in,” Gladem said. “It talks a lot about where we used to be as a society and how there used to be more kindness. … It’s important to me as an artist to not be afraid to express the real issues, to not walk around them — to confront them head on in my music.

“That’s a big step for me as artist.”

Gladem, who won “Student of the Year” and “Youth Vocalist of the Year” at the Madison Area Music Awards last June, graduated from Portage High School last week. Starting Feb. 6, she will put her music career on hold for a three-month church mission trip to Tanzania in East Africa.

She expects to play music in Portage, Baraboo and Madison as soon as she gets back.

“It’s all very exciting,” Gladem said of the busy time in her life. “I’m so thankful to everyone who’s supported me.”

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