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The Grascals’ ‘I Am Strong’ Was Inspired by a St. Jude’s Patient

The Grascals
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Bluegrass stars the Grascals once served as Dolly Parton‘s backing band, and the group has teamed up with Parton for a very important, tender ballad called ‘I Am Strong.’ The tune appears on the benefit album ‘Country Classics With a Bluegrass Spin,’ the proceeds of which benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

‘I Am Strong’ is the standout track, and not just because it teams the Grascals and Parton. Grascals member Terry Eldredge tells WGNA that an actual St. Jude’s patient inspired the song, saying,  “We had made a visit to St. Jude’s. By the way, if anybody is ever down there around Memphis and can get a chance to go through that hospital, go do it because you’ll leave with a great feeling. They’re very comforting and caring for those kids … It’s a neat thing.”

The band toured the facility in order to present a check from the MACC (Musicians Against Childhood Cancer) festival. Eldredge continues, “We were going on a lunch break and there is a big long hallway, and on the wall is writing from the kids and the first two words are ‘I am,’ and the children fill in the rest of the part. It says, ‘I am sick,’ ‘I am weak,’ ‘I am tried,’ ‘I am homesick.’ They fill in the last line and 0ne of the lines was ‘I am strong.’ It hit Jamie [Johnson] and all of us like a ton of bricks. The next day, he wrote the song with his wife.”

Once Johnson played it for Parton, she was moved enough to want to appear on it.

The CD is being sold at Cracker Barrel locations — known for their downhome meals and country wares — because the restaurants and stores are viable retail outlets for this kind of music and “can raise good money for those children and their parents,” Eldredge says.

St. Jude’s operates at a cost of a million dollars per day, so any and all donations and funds from the purchase of this release help keep the doors open!

Listen to the rest of WGNA’s interview here, and check out the ‘I Am Strong’ music video here.

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