The artist: Gracie Schram
The song: Under The Sun
Background: Gracie Schram of Leawood, Kansas, has been writing songs since she was a little girl. She released her first album when she was 10 years old. And this past year has been busy and full of change. She graduated high school from Blue Valley North, released the album Dear Fall, and started college in Nashville, Tennessee.
The story: 'Under The Sun' recently won first place in the Seven Days songwriting competition. The competition is part of a yearly campaign commemorating the victims of a shooting at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas three years ago. Schram's family was close to one of the victims, 14 year old Reat Underwood.
"The whole situation with the Jewish Community Center was really devastating," says Schram. "And then to find out that the guy was just such an evil person, that made it really hard."
The gunman was neo-Nazi Frazier Glenn Cross, Jr. He was convicted and sentenced to death in the murders.
Schram says her song 'Under the Sun,' is not just about the violence that took place that day. It carries a bigger message - to promote diversity and acceptance of all people regardless of their race, religion or political difference.
"Look at what's happening in the world right now and look at how angry we are at everyone," says Schram.
"We are so divided and so consumed with hate as opposed to love. So it was more like a call to action like, everyone wake up and look at what we're doing in the world, and look at how we are treating people. And just encouraging others to be accepting and loving as opposed to spreading a message of hate."
Schram believes that anybody can make a difference in the world. Her hope?
"I'm trying to change the world through the power of music. I'm just trying to put out music that spreads light and spreads truth and authenticity," says Schram.
And that can be a hard message to put out there. Especially in what seems like a growing hostile and polarized world. But Schram says its important to look beyond that and focus on what we have in common.
"I think at the heart of it, we all want to be loved and we all want to have a life of meaning and leave a legacy and make an impact in the world," says Schram. "I think that's why we need to be kind and loving and accepting of other people, so that they can go out there and pursue that dream, whatever it is."
Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR 89.3 in which Kansas City musicians tell the story behind a song they have written or are performing.
Suzanne Hogan is a contributor and announcer at KCUR 89.3.