I’m going to speak for Jamie Grace – cause that’s me, haha. And I’m the only person I feel led to speak for.
I also want to clarify, this is not the first time I have heard thoughts in regards to my music being “too cheesy” or “not Christian enough.” So know that this post is an explosion of my thoughts as to why my music is often so simple.
I heard of this original blog post 7 minutes ago. Here are the quotes pertaining to me.
Contemporary Christian pop music might be taking Psalm 100’s command to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” a little too far. Jamie Grace’s “Beautiful Day” was one of the top 10 Christian songs of 2014 and has a typically peppy chorus: “This feeling can’t be wrong / I’m about to get my worship on / Take me away / It’s a beautiful day.” Switch it out for Pharrell’s “Happy,” and a congregation might not be able to tell the difference.
The upbeat lyrics of “Beautiful Day” aren’t exceptional. I took a look at the last five years of Billboard’s year-end top 50 Christian songs1 to see whether Christian pop is unrelentingly cheerful. I looked at pairs of concepts across the entire collection of lyrics2 (life and death, grace and sin, etc.)3 and calculated the ratio of positive to negative words. For every pair I checked, positive words were far more common than negative ones.
Dear writer, you are right. My lyrics are very peppy and I consider it a compliment. However, there is a place where you are wrong. Beautiful Day is not based off of Psalm 100 but rather Psalm 118. Verse 24 to be exact. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Beautiful Day is a song, written through pain and heartache, to remind myself, and whomever may listen, that there is always a reason to find joy.
I won’t dig into “my story” right now. It can be lengthy, and the majority of the people who have been to a live show or visit my website already know my story. But, I will say this, when you spent your childhood not wanting to live and you finally found joy? Your upbeat songs won’t be deep. The will be peppy. And I cannot be more grateful for the ability to be peppy.
I spent most of middle and high school depressed, medicated and very sick. Every song I wrote was dark, painful and borderline suicidal. I didn’t want to live anymore, and often times would ask my dad why God made me live if I didn’t want to. The privilege to write a simple, easy listening pop song is one I never thought would be my reality.
Additionally, I love to go deep. And if anyone ever wants to have a conversation with me that is beyond the intentional care free style that is a majority of my music, I will. On social media. Where I jump into conversations about Faith and identity with teens and was even privileged to be a part of leading a fan to accepted Christ via Instagram DMs. Or in Twitter DMs where I’ve chatted with kids who are suicidal or at the verge of running away from home and have been a tiny part of their insane stories of building an element of confidence and finding home.
I also like to go deep at my church. Where I preach on Tuesday nights with young adults. Or at my home with my mom. She’s really sick and we sometimes spend nights praying and crying together, reminding eachother of the promises of the Lord. Or on my Youtube channel, where I dig into deeper topics about Faith and lifestyle. Or my podcast (before it was a “webshow,”) where I take scriptures and share what God is sharing with me.
Or at my live show, where I share my testimony. And the testimony’s that have been shared with me. As I set up songs like “Just Trust” written about a toddler with cancer or “To Love You Back” about salvation.
But, forgive me if the songs you hear from me on the radio don’t “go there.” When you’ve spent a bulk of your life wishing it away and you finally get a glimpse of joy? (Essentially when Psalm 30:5 becomes your life) You cannot help but find the simplest way to write it, sing it, scream it. So that all who hear will know of the joy you found.
So, to quote Brant…
It turns out that people on the way home from a tough job do not use the radio to hear a song about sorrow and judgment. (We can foist it on them for their own good, but they have these darn buttons they can click.)
This does not mean they are lacking spiritual depth. It does mean that they are human beings, living real lives, who could use some real encouragement.
I’ve been the overwhelmed, depressed teenager. I’ve been the I-want-to-quit-my-job 20 something! Sometimes I’ll turn on a slow heavy hitter by Switchfoot, Fiction Family, Johnnyswim, Chris Rice, Steffany Gretzinger, Morgan Harper Nichols or Nichole Nordeman – to name some of my favorites – but sometimes the best thing to get me out of bed is an upbeat 2001 ZOEgirl song with the simplest lyrics and chords. Peppy, I know! 😉 So in return, I toss out a mix! The deep ballads and the giddy not-so-ballads. A mixture of the good and the not-so-good of my life. Even with that, my music is only a small part of who I am. But you catch my drift… yeah?
I’m 100% okay if someone hears my music and doesn’t like it. Realistically, if everyone in the world just loveddddddd me I wouldn’t get to go to the store just casually and buy stuff. So I don’t need everyyyybody to be a Jamie Grace fan, lol. And again, I can’t speak for the intentions of every writer of music. But I know for a fact that this girl, has a purpose, an intent and dare I say a calling to reach out to those who feel they have lost their joy, and hopefully share a little with them.
And if anyone who enjoys listening to me wants something deeper? Ready to Fly is dedicated to a little girl who lost her life and was blessed by my peppy, giddy songs. Not Alone is a song written for a woman whose son was dying and wasn’t sure how much long he would have. Come to Me was written after seeing a testimony of Johnny Cash as told by his sister, Joanne. They might not be on radio, but a they’re a significant part of who I am.
I am not personally one of the ones who chooses which songs are or aren’t played on radio but I am grateful to be a part of a medium that plays music that inspires and encourages people on a daily basis. But whether it is a deep album cut, live unreleased song or a peppy Jamie Grace song you hear on the radio, I am not trying to be exceptional by the standards of any man (or woman). I am simply a 24 year old saved by grace with a story to tell and the privilege of a platform I can barely believe. And that, is the only exception I need.