Spend any time at all with Jamie Grace, and it’s obvious that she’s special. Her infectious smile, bright eyes and her expressive way with words are all tale-tell signs: this is one unique girl.
Jamie Grace’s Gotee Records debut EP, Hold Me, is certainly the sonic evidence. A hybrid mix of acoustic pop, hip hop, folk, reggae, and the kitchen sink, this four-song collection just may be the most contagious debut to hit the music scene in decades. “She writes, sings and plays her own music. And she has this style that can’t be put into a typical label box,” says TobyMac, who signed Jamie Grace after tracking her clever YouTube videos for more than three years. “When some people sing and play, it’s almost effortless, and their joy is all over them. That’s what grabbed my attention with Jamie Grace. I’ve not been this excited to work with an artist in a long time.”
But the effervescent spirit in this young woman is even more powerful and compelling than what can be seen. Her contagious joy and message of hope can only be understood in the context of her story. And her struggle. Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Jamie Grace learned two powerful lessons: one, that ministry is a way of life; two, that life is good, even when it’s hard. Diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at age 11, her young life became a series of heartbreak and challenge, a long season of physical exhaustion, emotional stress and spiritual doubt.
Then one day, inspired by the powerful testimony of Tammy Trent on the Revolve Tour, Jamie Grace came to a life-changing conclusion. “I heard [Tammy] speak and I thought, ‘I’ve cried enough. It’s time to accept my joy.’ It was just the long process of finally realizing that, even with Tourette’s, I still have something to do with my life. I love to sing. I have a story, and I’ve got to share it.”
Fast-forward just three short years, and that decision is already bearing beautiful fruit, proving (again) that nothing is impossible with God. Today, at 19, Jamie Grace is a junior in college (yes, that’s right; she finished high school early), studying children’s ministry. She is sharing her story of resilience and hope in GraceTalk, a monthly mentoring group for young girls she started when she was 15, on JCTV’s “iShine KNECT,” and is now a featured speaker/performer on the 2011 Revolve Tour.
“Morgan [older sister] and I started writing songs,” says Jamie Grace, who grew up listening to a musical melting pot—from Mahalia Jackson, Johnny Cash, and Gaither Vocal Band to dcTalk. “Music allowed me to write about how I feel, and it was a way to connect with other people. My parents bought me a drum kit for my 14th birthday, and we thought ‘We still have songs, we still have hope and we are going to be in a rock band!’ God had reassured us in so many ways; we knew He had a plan for us. Music gave us a very real sense of hope… and a purpose.”
It’s that ‘get out there and do it’ spirit, in addition to her undeniable musical talent, that most impressed TobyMac. “She’s very passionate about reaching out to young people who have similar challenges, and it’s not like anyone is doing that for her… She’s started ‘Teens with Tourette Syndrome (teensWts)’ on her own. She’s a gutsy young girl with a lot of shine.”
And she’s carving out some great new music—think Sara Bareilles, Macy Gray and Colbie Calliat—infused with her own funky, laid-back vibe. Produced by Christopher Stevens (Sanctus Real, Mandisa, TobyMac), the debut single “Hold Me”, communicates boldly the truth that God will always love and never leave His children. A self-taught musician, she plays guitar, drums, piano and ukulele (!), and even puts a brave, new spin on dcTalk’s “Into Jesus.”
“These songs are my heart songs,” she says, “straight off the pages of my diary. Very simple, very chill, but very fun. It’s what I think about, and what gets me through.” One listen to “One Song at a Time,” featuring GabeReal of DiverseCity, and you’ll see why. “There’s a slightly urban side to what she’s doing,” TobyMac says of Jamie Grace’s Hold Me e.p., “and I’ve always been an advocate for diversity, music made by people of color. We need that. I’ve said it a million times: ‘If we’re ever going to be a shining city on a hill, we have to be a diverse city.’ Jamie Grace is part of that diverse city…She’s such a natural, beautiful next step for our industry.”
For album cover and images, visit media.gotee.com