Christian music's pop princess extraordinaire is back with some new grooves! GRAMMY® nominated and GMA Dove award winner Jamie Grace, who burst onto the music scene in 2011, is back after taking a few years away from the spotlight and she's better than ever with the release of her third project, '91, named for the year she was born.
Sherri Shepherd (ABC's THE VIEW) called her 'the real deal' and her talent even caught the attention of mega-superstar Adele, during a concert stop last year. Grace had been contemplating whether to stop pursuing her music as a career - until that defining moment. "I guess you can thank Adele for '91," says Grace. "She had no idea, but that moment really made me give this another shot."
'91 explores the singer's life in great lyrical detail, from the intro track "Different," which explains how it feels to not fit in, to the song "Games," which speaks of the way people are your friends one moment and not the next. Of course, there's catchy sing-a-long poppy goodness on the record, with "The Happy Song" and "Party Like A Princess," and Grace delves into her position as a child of God in the song "Daughter of The King" and "Bella."
Q: Jamie, thanks for doing this interview with us. Why did you entitle your new album "91" (the year you were born)?
Thank you guys so much for letting me share about the record!
I'd like to think that I was hoping to do something with a hint toward the 90s for a while! On my first record, in a song called 1945, I sing, "lovely 1991, that's year that I was born..." It's always been one of my favorite songs and I'm glad to have a record that two records together.
As a 90s kid, I grew up on music from the late 90s and early 2000s that matched fun melodies with honest and real lyrics that walked me through tough moments. Ever since I started writing songs, I've been so grateful to write from that place.
Every line I sing and lyric I write is a representation of a real moment and experience of how Faith can truly shape your life. With this record, I wanted to continue to be intentional about writing music that can be the soundtrack to the highs and lows in life. When I think about the first soundtrack of my life, I think about the 90s. And it's been super fun to have a bit of a throwback moment!
Q: I have read that you have thought about giving up on the music industry. Why? What happened there?
Over the course of a few years, I was writing and recording my record but wasn't sure when or if it would be released. I felt like God called me to do music but no matter how hard I tried, nothing was happening. Additionally, my mom's ongoing health complications were beginning to get worse. Besides my family and a few close friend; being rather new in the industry I didn't really know who I could turn to.
In 2016, I became really depressed and consequently secluded myself as much as I could. I spent many nights crying, confused and upset and accepted that I likely wouldn't release another record. It's crazy to think about that now, because it's been the most incredible experience sharing '91! The reality is that no one's life is perfect. We all have different struggles and downfalls. In the moments we can choose to let them define us or we can trust God to bring us through.
During this difficult season, I started serving at my church full time under my dads leadership. I began to see a Christian counselor, and my family's persistence broke through the walls I built around me. It wasn't an easy journey but God's grace was my greatest constant and I'm so grateful for that.
Q: Then you met Adele. How did she encourage you?
Ever since I was little I have been known for talking to all people - all of the time. It sounds crazy, but at a break in between songs at her Los Angeles concert, I motioned to Adele saying, "do you want to sing together?" She said yes, and before I knew it I was on stage singing her song, "Remedy." My sister Morgan (Harper Nichols) had recently covered "Remedy," dedicating it to our mom.
This happened during the season in my life where I felt like my voice didn't matter. Not only were Adele's words and the entire experience timely, it also encouraged me to continue interacting with my fans and to enjoy every moment that I can.
Q: When you were making this new record, did you approach it differently?
Growing up my mom would always say, "Create something new everyday." I try to stick to that motto, especially while working on a record. Everything I write won't necessarily fit the mold of an album or be ready to share with others, but the more I write and sing, the more I grow and learn.
On my first record, Come To Me was written days before the deadline. For the second record it was Not Alone. This time around, Different was written and recorded the same week of the deadline. I wish I could get everything finished much sooner! Haha. But I love to write and sing so much and occasionally inspiration hits at the most random times. The process for making the record is all about being open to that inspiration and sharing as much of it as you can.
Q: "Different" is a song that's going to speak to many listeners out there who don't fit in. What do you have to say to many of your listeners who don't fit in?
I spent almost every year of middle and high school wishing I was like everyone else. From the way I looked, talked, sang and walked. Even down to the fact that I didn't take ballet and all of the cool girls did. Sadly, the time I could've spent becoming the version of myself was wasted wishing it all away.
I'm the same person that I was in middle and high school. I'm awkward, quirky and have an inconsistent accent that floats between my Southern twang and my family's Los Angeles roots. I can't sing all of the high notes like many other female vocalists and I certainly don't know anything about ballet. While those things have remained, there is one thing that's changed - I like it. It wasn't easy, but over the years I have learned that it's okay to be different. Sometimes, the awkward and quirky things about us are what make us who we are! I know it's not always easy to embrace what's different but I know from experience that God knows exactly what He's doing when He creates us. There are no mistakes! And everything we may see as a burden or an insecurity, could be the very things He uses to show us the beauty in standing out.
Q: You also demonstrate a lot of wisdom in many of the songs. "Games" is an example. What is your definition of a true friend? And how can be true friends to the people God has placed in our lives?
Games was written out of a great amount of brokenness. I was hurt by someone who I called a friend and unfortunately the desire to reconcile was not mutual. I don't have all of the answers as to how to move on or even be a great friend, but I try to live out the chorus of Games, which emphasizes the ability to step away from drama, walk away from games, and show love even if it is not reciprocated.
Additionally, in my relationship with God, I am often reminded of His grace. He extends so much grace to me and is truly the greatest friend that I could ever have. My hope and prayer is that I can show His grace in my friendships as, through my imperfections and mistakes, I hope to receive it as well.
Q: You are also started two organizations, ImAFighter and Jamie Grace Foundation, tell us a little more about each of these.
I started ImAFighter.org when I was 14 years old to talk about my experience in having Tourette Syndrome in hopes of connecting with and inspiring other kids and teens like me. Over the years, it became a community where kids, teens and their families, with different challenges, primarily medical, could support each other. I had no idea that my plan to find someone else with Tourette would result in building a community for fighters all around the world.
As my platform in music grew, I realized how fortunate I was to be able to be a voice to the sometimes voiceless. My mom encouraged me to start The Jamie Grace Foundation and every year since we started we have been able to support different missions that serve children and families. We've done clothing drives, toy drives and have sponsored camps and Summer programs! Most recently, we launched lovewill.net; an online resource dedicated to raising awareness on how everyone can play a part in changing the life of a child in foster care.
Q: How do you wish "91" would impact the lives of your hearers and fans?
As a musician and producer, I do hope that people enjoy the music of '91. My team and I have had many moments where we got excited about the way a song was played or we came up with a fun vocal moment we wanted to try. I really love music and how it transcends generations, cultures and languages and would love if people who hear it feel connected to the music in some way.
Ultimately, this record is greater than melodies. It's more than rhythm. These are lyrics written through pain, fear, joy, excitement, depression, seclusion, happiness, loneliness and contentment. These songs are letters written to friends and fans who have shared their stories. They are prayers written to God when no one was around and celebrations of His greatness that I can't keep to myself.
To me, 90s music provided a song for every situation. So whether you're in the best mood, the worst, or somewhere in between, I hope that these real and raw moments can be a part of the soundtrack that walks with you on your journey.