HELLO. If you are reading this then you have (gracefully) (or not gracefully) stumbled upon my website and my first blog post! HIGH FIVE. And I couldn't be more thrilled to virtually meet you! Truly. There are so many other things you could be doing on this world wide web and I am honored you chose to spend a few seconds on my page.
I guess it only seems right for my first blog post to be sort of an introduction to who I am or what this whole website is even about.
You should probably first know that my first name is in fact not actually Grace... It is Anna. Anna Grace. (Shocker right??) But don't call me Anna Grace. I only got called that when I was in trouble and I probably won't ever respond to it because I always forget my first name is actually "Anna."
I love anything that involves acoustic, folk, Jesus, and soulful harmonies. I grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan as the youngest of five. In our family-it wasn't a real party until the guitar was brought out. I am pretty sure almost every family gathering since I can remember has been centered around singing, harmonies, and guitars. There was a LOT of Gillian Welch, Emmy Lou, and Patty Griffin being sung that’s for sure.
(side note: I also LOVE blues music...Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Otis Taylor… it gives me the soul feels. Every. Single. Time.)
So what is Songs Against Slavery?
I graduated from Hope College in 2014, majoring in both Psychology and Women’s Studies. My freshman year at Hope, I came across an article on the internet that exposed the issue of sex trafficking in Michigan. Up until that point, I had no idea it existed in the U.S. and I honestly just sat there and cried. After a semester of learning and researching the problem, I realized I wanted to dedicate my life to fighting this terrible injustice. Which also meant, I wanted to use my music to fight this as well. I wanted to write songs that breathed depth, meaning, light and hope into other broken people’s lives. Because Lord knows we are all broken and sometimes, you just want to know you are not the only one.
So alas, in 2014, my best friend and I co-founded Songs Against Slavery-a nonprofit that uses benefit concerts to raise money and awareness to fight sex trafficking in the United States. In the last 5 years, we have run 20 benefit concerts in five states and raised over $70,000 to aid in the fight against sex trafficking. Crazy right?! That is God for you!
I now work full-time as the Director of Artist Relations in Nashville, TN. Along with running SAS, I get to book and work with all of the artists we bring in to play our shows. I may be biased, but I truly believe I have the best job in the world. And I praise Jesus for that every single day of my life.
Which brings me to today. My heartbeat for music.
Since I was a little girl, music has and always will be the thing that brings me most alive. And as I mentioned before, I knew I wanted to use my music. I just didn’t really process the whole “playing in front of people” part. You see, while music is my greatest joy-it is also my greatest insecurity. It TERRIFIES me to play my songs for people. It feels so awkward and strange to have people sit so silently while watching your every move. It makes me want to squirm just THINKING about it. So if you would have told me five years ago that I would be pursuing music, writing songs, and playing shows as my passion- I would have laughed in your face.
But that is just it. What I have come to realize through this entire journey is this one simple little fact: IT ISN’T ABOUT ME. AT ALL. And that, to me, is so so so freeing. (And gives me courage to actually go out and PLAY.) It is about people knowing, feeling, and understanding that even in their darkest moments-they are not alone. That there are people out there using their voices, singing songs, praying fervent prayers, and stepping out in courageous acts of faith to fight for freedom. Their freedom. Your freedom. My freedom. It’s about bringing hope to the darkest of places.
But ultimately, it’s about jumping head first into uncomfortable callings to make Jesus’ name be known and glorified. And that, to me, is worth it all. I just have the blessing of living and seeing it all through song. Because in the end, I believe that music is a universal language that can break the chains of bondage and bring freedom to all. And that is exactly why I do it.