At the age of two, Gracie Van Brunt was diagnosed with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS) – a rare disease affecting the bone marrow, pancreas and skeleton. There are approximately 1500 patients in the United States and perhaps 3,000 in the world. Gracie spent the first 6 years in and out of the hospital with bone marrow failure, many infections, pneumonias, and other illnesses. At age 6, Gracie learned of the Make-A-Wish Foundation through one of their representatives in the hospital, which allows kids with life threatening illnesses to make a wish of something they have always wanted to do. In 2007, at the age of 12, Gracie asked for and received her wish of meeting the first American Idol Winner, Kelly Clarkson. Gracie flew to L.A. with her family for a private viewing of one of Clarkson’s shows, and Gracie met and sang Bonnie Raitt’s “Something To Talk About” for Clarkson after the show.
A video was posted of Gracie singing Bonnie Raitt to Clarkson on the Yahoo! Home-page and was the top viewed Yahoo video for that month. This video sparked the interest of not only Bonnie Raitt herself (who sent an autographed photo with an inspirational message to her), but of the Boston ABC-affiliate TV news magazine Chronicle. Gracie was featured for her bravery in coping with her disease, with her passion for music and her Make A Wish trip to meet Clarkson.
Inspired by Clarkson’s hard-earned success, Gracie came home with much inspiration and a new-found passion for music and song-writing. With this new passion, she started writing music, learning the guitar and piano and eventually gigging out in local bars along with creating and posting Youtube videos with the world. She started performing as a guest-star with local bands around bars at age 12 and has since then acquired several of her own paid gigs at clubs like The All Asia and The Middle East, both in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
After spending a year and a half in the studio and countless hours perfecting her original songs, Gracie’s self-entitled debut CD was released in August of 2011. The EP consists of five tracks. Gracie’s main goal in selling her CD is to donate most of her profits to the Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome Foundation so that she can not only help herself, but help the many others struggling with her disease as well, including those who have fatal cases.
Recently, some of these tracks have been featured in both the Lifetime movie, “Campus Killer” with her song “Leave Me Be” in May 2012 as well as featured in the Ion movie, “A Christmas Kiss”, which premiered in December 2011, with her versions of “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls”.
Gracie was also a featured guest artist as an opener for hip-hop/pop star Sean Kingston in April 2012.
Gracie is now a sophomore at Berklee College of Music in College and is majoring in songwriting. She very much enjoys her time at Berklee and is very grateful to have the opportunity to fully immerse herself in her passion; living, breathing and learning music all day every day.
To learn more about Gracie’s disease or to donate to the SDS Foundation, go to the official SDS website: http://www.shwachman-diamond.org/