Who says Catholic moms can’t rock out? Amanda Grace is taking her faith to the heart of the music industry with a new pop single about keeping the faith in the City of Angels.
by Jerry Windley-Daoust
I first met Amanda Hardy (better known in music circles by her artist name, Amanda Grace) in a small prayer group for stay-at-home parents at my parish. Okay, it was a stay-at-home moms group, but they let me come anyway as the token dad. This was when her two kids were small, a few years before she launched her music career with her debut children’s album, Trains, Cars, and a Trip to Mars. I picked up a CD back when she was doing mostly local shows; I can only say that it’s a good thing I like her music, because it was in heavy rotation at our house for quite a while.
Trains, Cars, & a Trip to Mars was sparked by the death of her young nephew from cancer. Although it was a tragedy that got her thinking about her music career again, much of her music reflects her upbeat, positive personality.
The latest development in Amanda’s career has been her surprising run in the Emerging Artists 100 competition currently underway at the influential Upcoming100 website. Her latest single, “Los Angeles,” is currently ranked number five out of one hundred professionally produced songs, with more than 14,000 votes.
While most of Amanda’s music isn’t explicitly religious, “Los Angeles”—which is about artists struggling to make it in a tough city—gives a big nod to her Catholic roots.
“Los Angeles, city of angels,” she sings. “I felt them close; they carried me, they lift my face to my beloved: Jesus, my only one.”
She wrote the song quickly while waiting to board a plane out of Los Angeles; she returned a few months later to collaborate with a professional producer to record the song in a grueling three-day recording session. (See interview, below.)
With less than two days to go until the contest ends, it looks like it will be a photo finish. If she is one of the top five artists at the end of Thursday, December 10, she’ll receive a career-boosting prize package that includes cash, entry to the Upcoming 100 chart, a one-month marketing campaign from Starlight Music Group worth $7,500, and four commercial radio interviews.
“I’m really nervous,” she admits.
But even if the contest falls through, she’s says going to keep doing her thing.
“I can’t not make music,” she laughs. “I’ll find a way forward somehow!”
Fans of Amanda Grace can vote up to once every 24 hours at http://www.upcoming100.com/emerging/. Here’s an excerpt from our interview:
What inspired you to write Los Angeles?
I was inspired to write the song after my trip [to Los Angeles] in April. I wrote the lyrics as I was about to board the plane back to Minnesota. I felt the struggle and heart of so many people there who are trying to make it in a very difficult market, city, and career. My own faith in my calling was stirred up while I was in that city, and I believe it is surrounded by angels.
Talk about the production process….what was involved in that?
After a few months of discussion, my husband and I agreed that I should return to L.A. to make the song for the city it was written for. Over the summer, someone reached out to me that I had met at a music conference, a rapper named Trayvon Ellis; his artist name is prime Blaq. He had a very positive message in his videos that I watched, so I asked him to write a part for my song. He wrote it right away, and I reached out to the Ellie producer I had met while also at the music conference and we set up a time for me to come out and for Trayvon’s part to be digitally edited into the track.
Altogether it was almost three full days of work in the recording studio, but the producer, Scotty Lund, probably put up to two weeks of eight-hour days into the song. It is by far the biggest investment of talent and energy I’ve ever put into one song.
How does your Catholic faith affect your music? Or maybe a more interesting question: How does music affect your faith?
It is through music that I strengthen my faith. Singing what I believe edifies me; and that truth, if shared, will do the same for others. Artists of all types are meant to inspire and challenge the people around them.
You’ve been trying to break into the mainstream music industry with this song, which is currently on the Upcoming 100 Emerging Artists chart. What’s that been like?
It’s been a real nail biter! When I first found out about this opportunity, it was late at night. I was tired, and I didn’t really read the rules or I might not have done it. But for some reason, I felt like I should do it. But I figured it would be a way to get the song out there, after putting so much time and investment into it, and there are some great prizes—including the winner getting to meet with people from Universal Music Group.
It’s a bit of a popularity contest, so I set up a Facebook page to remind fans to vote once a day now through December 10th. [Editor’s note: Find it here.]
What do your kids think of your musical career? And what do you hope they get out of your music?
My kids inspire me. They are giving me faith that I can do this huge challenge. It wasn’t until after I had them that I felt called to pursue music in a greater way again. Through this whole journey, each year I see them growing in the hopes that mom will “make it.” It makes me want to fulfill their hopes.
What advice would you give parents about “curating” the music their kids listen to?
Since I was a child, I have always listened to the messages in songs. Kids aren’t stupid, and they know what artists are talking about in songs. I let them listen to music that I think is ok for their age, but overall I trust that my relationship with them in the long run will be what keeps them steady through the constant change of pop culture. We do listen to pop, if it isn’t in bad taste! I’m working on some kids’ pop songs, too.
Thanks, Amanda, and good luck!
Thank you for the opportunity!
Amanda Grace Biography
At her website.
Beyond “kindie”: Family favorite Amanda Grace takes a new tack
A 2014 profile by the Alternative radio station The Current.
Upcoming100 Emerging Artists
Where you can vote daily through December 10 for Amanda’s song.
Lyrics to Los Angeles
Will this city take me up or will it take me down?
Is it the faith that I’ve been sowing that will get me through this town?
Elevators up to the skies of the unknown leave me breathless as I dream.
Will they take me up where the angels adore the beauty of heavens king?
Los Angeles City of angels
I felt them close; they carried me
They lift my face to my beloved: Jesus
My only one.
For years I’ve darkened my mind my cynicism is so real
I’ve heard the demons they scream at me yelling for me to yield
All that I’ve desired I’ve seen kicked down am I just in my make believe?
Will I rise up to the glory above as I ride on eagles wings?
Home, sweet home arrived in the city of angels
We never break down, we just break through
I never want to hear you say; what you can’t do
keep your eyes upon the prize of whatever you aim to
Haters, judgments and perfections
Rise and they treat you precious, fall and they forgive when you reckless
demons, Lord working, pray protects us
from the ways that lead us astray
Sleep with hype; wake with realities
Never been, you’re welcome to visit
They lift my face, they lift my face, they lift my face to home.