Young singer makes the world a stage with purpose
By: Courtney Bellush
Emerging from the sweltering depths of the Underground, the brisk London air feels abrasive but welcome. Strolling down Old Brompton Road, the Troubadour comes into view. With colorful teapots lining the windows and gingham patterned tablecloths, the café oozes vintage charm.
The Troubadour may seem like just another adorable restaurant from the outside, but it is a significant landmark of music heritage. Through the café and down the stairs is a venue that has hosted such legendary performers as Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Adele and Ed Sheeran.
Tapping together her yellow shoes, a singer songwriter hailing from Kansas City stands on stage sensing phantasms of performances past.
“I realized how crazy it was for a girl from Nashville, Tennessee, to be there and be able to perform with other London artists,” said singer songwriter Gracie Schram. “It was so surreal realizing that this venue is full of so many stories and the walls are full of so many sounds.”
Schram’s performance at the Troubadour is a testament to the places her music has taken her. Besides London, she has performed in Canada, China, London, Brazil and Nicaragua. Whether playing for 60 people to 20,000 people, Gracie has been able to see firsthand “how music impacts people.”
In fact, impacting people has always been Schram’s mission with her music.
“I think she just is wired to look outside herself and to use her gifts to make the world a little brighter even for just one person,” said Jill Schram, her mom. “When Gracie was 10 and made a CD to raise money for orphans, it wasn’t the first time she wanted to help others. It was the first time she used her music to do it. She had been using her birthday parties since she was 5 to bless others – collecting toys for inner city kids or books or food for the food pantry instead of receiving gifts for herself. Somehow she was always looking for ways she could help people who had less than she did.”
Inspired by videos she watched of the poverty in Africa, Schram decided to record an album and start a fundraising campaign with her music. At only 10 years old, Schram began speaking and singing to groups of people. Through her work, Schram raised over $45,000 and was able to help pay for an orphanage in Haiti, two fish ponds in Africa and a new home for a family in Colombia.
“Not only was the money making the difference but so were the songs,” said Schram. “Whether you’re talking to an elementary school kid in the U.S. or a 75-year-old or someone in Haiti, everyone can connect to music and come together.”
Throughout her career, Schram has landed impressive opportunities. She has opened for Ingrid Michaelson and been on tour with David Archuletta. But the greatest opportunities for Gracie have been the more humbling experiences.
“One of my favorite memories is playing a show in the middle of a trash dump,” said Schram. “I was singing the choruses in Spanish while little Nicaraguan kids were singing and drumming.”
She was performing at Dia de Luz in Managua, Nicaragua, a trash dump community. The event is a part of an event to shine a light on child sex exploitation. The event honors the life of Ileana, a young girl who was prostituted by her family and died after contracting HIV.
On her newly released “Dear Fall” EP, Schram recorded the song “Lullaby” for a soundtrack in the documentary “Ileana’s Smile.”
Also on the EP is the song “Walls,” which hits on emotional vulnerability. Accompanied by sweeping strings through the climax of the bridge, Schram sings, “I’m learning to let my walls fall. Break them down. Let them fall apart. No more guarding your heart.”
“I’m really not super open with my emotions or what I’m feeling but if you listen to my songs it is like you are reading my diary,” said Schram. “For me, it’s hard to let my guard down and let people really know me through the highs and lows. ‘Walls’ is about that vulnerability of taking the step to let someone truly know you.
“Anywhere You Go,” the next song on the new EP is getting the most attention right now. When Gracie played at Belmont University sorority Phi Mu’s event Bonnamu, everybody in the front was singing along with her.
The third track on the EP is a cover of “You Are my Sunshine.”
“I wanted to do something totally different so I made it in minor and mashed it up with ‘Aint No Sunshine,’ ” said Schram. “It’s actually a really sad song if you listen to the lyrics.”
With the EP gaining traction on Spotify and YouTube, it seems that Schram’s career will continue to take her all around the world.
“Gracie is smart and hardworking, so where her career goes will be fun to watch,” said her business manager, Julia Boos. “Unfortunately, in this business, success is difficult to dictate. But, Gracie has the talent and determination to take her anywhere she wants to go.”