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REINTRODUCING CADENCE GRACE
A Runaway Angel’s Deserved Revival
WRITTEN BY NICK KREWEN
Country music singer and songwriter Cadence Grace, former Runaway Angel, is finally coming home….to herself.
The last number of years haven’t been kind to the Whitby-born creative who divides her time between Courtice, Ontario and Nashville: four years ago, she was diagnosed with leukaemia, and during that lengthy battle, suffered a number of setbacks that would test her resilience in ways she could never have fathomed.
Detailed in her candid blog Love & Leukemia, Grace endured numerous complications that never seemed to end; as one medical issue got resolved, another unexpected setback would rear its ugly head. There were endless tests, blood transfusions, experimental treatments, and finally, a Bone Marrow transplant.
“I was literally reborn as another person,” Cadence Grace says of the ordeal, a hint of marvel in her voice. “My blood is genetically another person’s.”
A fighter and a survivor, Grace came through the worst of it. Now, she’s ready to reclaim her life and her profession as a compelling singer, songwriter and performer.
REFLECTING ON LESSONS LEARNED
“I think it just showed me how strong I am,” Grace acknowledges. “Honestly, I really didn’t think that I was capable of a lot of things – I second guess myself a lot – and I didn’t think that I could rise to the challenge. Cancer showed me that I can do anything, even if it scares me to death. It made me want to take risks.”
As soon as she was able, she and her husband Bill bought a place in Nashville, with Grace’s determination at compensating for stolen time fuelling her resolve to make an impact and take back the reins of a promising musical career that was unexpectedly interrupted due to circumstances beyond her control.
“I’m not second guessing myself anymore,” Grace states. “I know I can do this. I deserve to do this.”
It wasn’t always this way. Prior to her illness, Cadence Grace had spent her life catering to the whims of others; letting fear dictate the parameters of her expectations.
Loving music and singing from a young age, Grace began her career as a pop artist, signing a publishing deal with a Canadian company called ole (now Anthem Entertainment) and writing and recording originals with producer JC Smith (Eva Avila.)
But she felt something was lacking…and that perhaps pop music didn’t hold the allure or the answers she was seeking.
“I was finding it very challenging,” she admits. “I spent most of my career just trying to be everything that everybody else wanted, or what I thought everybody else wanted. I found it particularly challenging to fulfill what people wanted in a pop world, because I just wasn’t comfortable with dressing or behaving in a lot of the ways that people seemed to expect of me in that genre.”
Truth be told, Grace grew up in a household where Reba McEntire and Garth Brooks were regular radio staples – and country music was the very definition of solace.
A Top 10 finish on CMT Canada’s Karaoke Star in 2009 kickstarted Grace’s country music career.
“That’s where I met Stacey.”
runaway angel and recoveRY
Grace recorded her 2013 solo album Unbreakable in Nashville, but it was Stacey Zegers who cajoled Grace to join her and fellow singer Ann Chaplin in a new country trio called Runaway Angel, which consequently released six radio singles and two albums, No End In Sight and ZERO both charting on the iTunes Country Charts at #5 and #3 respectively.
“That was one of the best times of my life,” Grace recalls. “It’s really painful because we had just put out our second record before I was diagnosed and I think if we had been able to promote that record properly, we might have finally ended up where we were heading. I really wish things had ended up differently, but I know everything happens for a reason- it was just hard to see it at the time.”
Aside from dealing with the daily and sometimes hourly stresses associated with recovery, a phenomenon that is unique to each cancer patient, the illness and the medication used to treat it also temporarily robbed her of her ability to listen to – and enjoy – music.
“I didn’t listen to music for about a year after my transplant because I was on these crazy-high doses of steroids that make your brain a little wonky,” Grace admits. “I would listen to music and then it would get stuck in this loop in my head, over and over and over. It was torture and I couldn’t sleep. It got so bad that I just stopped listening to music. When I got off the steroids, I started listening again.”
Her harrowing lack of creativity was enough to plant doubt in Grace’s mind as to whether music was her true calling.
“I was thinking that I’d never be an artist again. I didn’t think I was going to come back to music.”
HOW CREATING WITH her PARENTS SPARKED HER FIRE
But it was her parents, Bruce and Cheryl, who came to her rescue, not only buy her some recording equipment for Christmas, but joining her for an online songwriting course hosted by OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder (Beyoncé’s “Halo,” Adele’s “Rumour Has It,” Taylor Swift’s “I Know Places) that provided clarity and rekindled Grace’s dedication to music.
“My parents and I wrote this song ‘Don’t’ and I produced the demo myself,” Grace states. “Then I took it to my producer Adam Newcomb and we finished producing it together. It’s the first song where I feel like my vision was realized, because I could finally put all the parts together and say, ‘this is what I want the bass to do. This is how I want the drums to sound.’ It was a really cool experience and really empowering.”
“Don’t” – a brand new single available in June – is a song about “exes” and a statement about emotional residue.
Grace says she had a particular former boyfriend in mind when she wrote the lyrics, but feels that the song is universally relatable to everyone that’s experienced a romantic break-up.
“We’ve all got exes, so I think it’s a feeling we’ve all had in some way,” she explains. “You’re trying to move on, but maybe there’s still some feelings that you’re trying so hard to get past or have just gotten over – and every time the phone rings, it kind of pulls you back to that place.
“I wanted to create an anthem for myself and for all women really, to take back that power after the relationship is over and just shut that door for good.”
The song “Don’t” is the first of a life reclamation project for Cadence Grace, as its composition made her realize that “this is what I have to do; what I’m being called to do.”
With Runaway Angel in the rearview (“My recovery took way too long – we’re just all in different places now,” she says,) Grace is embracing a wide open future with only one caveat: to be honest to herself.
“Cancer really made me recognize how many decisions I made due to fear in my life,” she summarizes. “It just put so much clarity into that and made me recognize that for 15 years, I tried to be anybody but myself, because I didn’t think that I was enough….think that Cadence Grace was enough.
“When I got cancer, all I was left with was myself and I had to get through most of it alone. I realized, why am I trying to be something I’m not? I just want to be me and make the music that I make.
“If that’s not fully country… if I want put out a dance track here and there…then that’s what I’ll do. I’m really tired of being a commercially boxed country writer: I just want to write what inspires me and hope that it connects with other people instead of writing what I think radio wants to hear. I don’t want to make fear-based decisions in my second life because that’s all I did in my first life.”
With her second life in front of her and open-ended potential on the horizon, Cadence Grace – multi-faceted singer, songwriter and a person who has bravely kicked cancer to the curb – is aggressively resuming her pursuit of her lifelong dream.
“I feel like I’m coming home to me – and this time, I’m ready.”
I just want to write what inspires me and hope that it connects with other people