Teen Triumphs Over Incurable Disorder to Get Grammy Nod
Singer-Songwriter Balances Tourette Syndrome and College
When 11-year-old Jamie Grace Harper was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, a Grammy nomination was the furthest thing from her mind. But a few years later came a Twitter contact from Christian music star and record label owner TobyMac, who had been following the teenager's music postings on YouTube for more than three years.
Fast-forward a few months and "Hold Me," the song Jamie Grace composed on her dorm room floor at Point University, the Christian college she attends in Atlanta, garnered the top spot across an unprecedented three different radio charts. Recently, the self-described "weird kid with Tourette" learned she has earned her first Grammy nomination for "Best Contemporary Christian Music Song."
Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. "I missed lots of school, lost my hair and, by the age of 14, just wanted to stay in my room all day," Harper said. Noticing her discouragement, Jamie Grace’s grandfather gave her a drum set and guitar. "Even though I didn't know what I was doing, the second I hit those drums, I seriously felt life coming back!"
Then, moved by a teen conference speaker who had overcome great adversity, "I thought, 'I've cried enough. Even with Tourette, God has a purpose for me. I love to sing. I have a story, and I've got to share it.' "
Harper shares her story with thousands of middle and high school girls each year through the national Revolve Tour, as well as through her own nonprofit mentoring program called GraceTalk, which she started at the age of 15. Jamie Grace credits her struggles with Tourette, in addition to her major of child and youth development at Point University, for helping her understand the insecurities many youth in her audience are facing.
"She's very passionate about reaching out to young people who have similar challenges," Gotee Records Founder TobyMac said. "And it's not like anyone has made it easy for her . . . she started GraceTalk and 'Teens with Tourette Syndrome' on her own. She's a gutsy young girl with a lot of shine."
"Jamie Grace and her classmates at Point University are passionate about being points of positive influence," said Point University President Dean Collins. "That Jamie Grace is using the platforms of music, public speaking and service to share her story and her faith with so many personifies the impact all of our students seek to make in whatever vocation they choose."
The 54th Annual Grammy Awards will take place Feb. 12, 2012. Jamie Grace's latest single, "You Lead," recently hit No. 2 on the CHR Chart. She released EP "Christmas Together" Nov. 29 and will travel on Newsong's "Very Merry Christmas Tour" through Dec. 20.