Spreading musical hope

Jamie Grace
Jamie Grace

Behind the upbeat tunes and cheerful southern voice of 2012 Grammy Award nominee Jamie Grace is an amazing story of victory over Tourette's and a sunken self-esteem.

After being discovered by popular musician TobyMac in 2010 via YouTube, Jamie's short career has already seen huge success as the Dove Awards New Artist of the Year in 2012.

"It's all about taking control over what I can control and that's saying, 'Hey, I've got Tourette's, but I can also play guitar, I can also sing and write songs about it,'" Jamie explains.

Now age 24, she loved to sing as a child before she discovered a gift for musical composition through her struggles with Tourette's syndrome, a neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by muscle tics.

Jamie's diagnosis at age 11 lead to treatment that caused her to lose her hair, become emotionally unresponsive and be sick several times a week.

Jamie's condition made it difficult for her to do simple tasks such as walking on her own or holding a fork, and forced her to wear gloves to protect her knuckles, scarred from unconsciously punching things.

The normally cheerful girl lost her motivation to sing and began to feel unattractive.

Jamie had been a Christian from a young age, but in that time of her life she could not comprehend why God would make her go through such a thing.

Her breakthrough from her sombre state came after she heard a testimony by Christian singer Tammy Trent, who chose to trust God when tragedy struck her family.

Jamie realised she had to accept the things in her life she could not understand or control, and trust that God had a plan.

Jaime's first drum set at 14 years old re-sparked her love of music and she went on to learn to play the piano, guitar, banjo and ukulele.

Music became her stress reliever and she found that her twitch came on less often when she played.

“Hey, I’ve got Tourette’s, but... I can also sing and write songs about it”"It's almost like I'm in another world," she says. "Everything goes silent and it's so amazing. ... I learned how to manage it through music. I can still follow my dreams and I know that God hasn't forgotten about me. I just had to pray about it."

Jaime has not taken any medication in almost four years, and over time has learned to cope with her condition. She does not allow it to be a stronghold over her life.

"Hopefully I can encourage other kids who are going through crazy stuff too," she says.

When she was 14 Jamie attended a performance of girl group ZOEgirl where she got to meet the band, but her incessant tics were making her feel self-conscious.

"As I get up to the table I just remember tears in my eyes, apologizing for being so weird and trying to explain to them what was going on," she recalls. "And it was just their sweet words of telling me I didn't have to be insecure and that God still loved me. I always just wanted to give that same feeling back to someone else."

Since that day, giving hope and confidence to young girls has been a cause very close to Jamie's heart, and through her music she tells of the worth they have in Jesus Christ.

She has her own non-profit mentoring program, called GraceTalk, and wants to help families with children who have Tourette's and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

"I just want to remind young girls especially that it's okay to feel hurt. It's okay to feel scared. It's okay to feel different. It's okay to feel left out or to feel like everything's not perfect," she says.

"It's even more okay to go to your Father, your Heavenly Father who loves you and cherishes you and adores you."

Follow Jaime at facebook.com/jamiegraceh

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