By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The TRA senior Easley has been a firm part of the Fine Art’s program since elementary school and wrapped up her performing career this past spring with the lead role as “Polly” in “Crazy For You.”
Fast forward to May 2 in the TRA Lobby, Easley was on the grand stage signing her scholarship to attend William Clark University in Mississippi to study Music Therapy.
“Gracie Easley has been a part of my program since she’s been in the third grade,” Vaughn noted. “She did her first show with me, “The Sound of Music.” She was the youngest child on the stage. She’s pretty much been a part of every production that we’ve had here since.
“Phenomenal talent, she won Top Soloist at our Orlando Choir competition,” she added. “We’d just got back from Orlando and we won first place in every category.”
WCU’s Coordinator of Choral Activities Jim Armstrong is happy to welcome Easley to his Chorale, Carey Company and 95 Voice Worship Choir.
“She’ll be singing in three ensembles and the degree that she will be pursuing will be in our Musical Therapy Department,” he said. “That is one of our stronger parts of our music school right now. She’ll be training and most of our students go on to internships and become board certified and practicing music therapist.”
Music therapy is the study and profession of using music as a tool for healing in a variety of settings from mentally handicap to palliative care.
“It is utilized to go in using music with clients to help with developments, social, health and help the quality of life for all age groups,” Armstrong added.
Vaughn said Easley will be grow stronger in her skills at Williams Carey helping her be an outstanding music therapist.
“Gracie is a very disciplined individual,” she noted. “With everything she does she gives 110 percent. It has not surprised me to see her grow to this magnitude.
“From that moment to now, she plays three instruments and sings,” Vaughn continued. “She’s learned how to dance and tap. I call her a triple threat because she’s a good actress, good singer and good dancer. And now she’s an instrumentalist, so I guess she’s more than that.”
Easley has been a fixture in the TRA Fine Arts Department on stage and behind the scenes for a decade.
“It’s been 10 years,” Gracie noted. “It’s been a while. I think I’ve changed a lot as a performer. Because at first I was really shy and was afraid to get up there on stage. People had to actually convince me to audition on it. Now I’ve gotten to the point I can be on stage without being nervous. I’ve always so grown closer with the other members of that Fine Arts Department.
“Every person who was out there today and plus more, every person in the Fine Arts department I would think of as a family member,” she added. “I would do anything, drop anything for any of them.”
Family like her parents Amy and Jeff along with sister Mady Kate have been tremendous support for Gracie over the years.
“Definitely can’t do it without my family supporting me,” she said. “My Mom, my Dad and my sister have definitely been supportive the whole time. In every single production I’ve been in, they been to every single thing. My Mom would drive me to rehearsals and back from them every single night. Without their support I could not definitely be here right now.”
Investing time into Gracie’s growth as a performer has paid off not only in a scholarship to WCU.
“Singing is what I am best at,” she said. “Singing comes natural to me, but I still have to work at it. But other things like playing instruments, dancing and acting I am not as strong at naturally. So I have to work 10 times harder. Like for “Crazy For You” I started taking dance classes last summer.”
Vaughn said she will remember Gracie’s work ethic but will miss hearing her vocal skills on a routine basis.
“Her voice, she has such a unique voice,” she said. “Just a beautiful gift and talent, I’m going to miss that voice. Just her sweet spirit, she’s been a very key part of our program for so long.
“There will be a gap because she’s a leader,” Vaughn continued. “You don’t find students like that every day. She has set the bar very high for those coming behind. She’s been a great role model.”
Easley hopes to continue being a role model through her chosen career path.
“When I was little, I used think I wanted to be a Rock star,” she said. “I thought I wanted to be on stage and perform.
“But as I got older, I realized that the talent God has given me, He didn’t give it to me to benefit myself,” Easley concluded. “He gave me these talents so I can benefit and help others to better themselves. My whole goal going into this is to help other people and not benefit myself.”