Most songwriters will tell you, the key to a really good song is the lyrics, a story being told with unique chords and melodies, evoking a specific emotion and compelling listeners to connect and share. No one knows this better than the Swope family, sharing their beautiful memories and storytelling through music, rhythm and song.
Steve and Jackie Swope currently live in Arkansas with their 11-year-old daughter, Grace. Steve, an Army veteran, was diagnosed with ALS in 2008. “It was a huge shock because he had always been so healthy and strong,” Jackie shared. “He was only 39 years old, so still pretty young with lots of life left to live! He has been slow progressing, so we are thankful for the time that gives us with him.”
A very close family, they Swopes love to do most everything together. From Branson vacations and hunting to bull-riding events and baseball games, they love the outdoors and spending time with family and friends.
Last year, Steve’s nephew told them about a unique opportunity for Grace through The Sing Me a Story Foundation, a nonprofit serving children, providing them the opportunity to use their imagination and write stories about anything they choose. Once a story is written, it is brought to life with the help of many talented songwriters who then perform their song for the author and their family.
“We decided to do the program because it was such a unique way for kids to express themselves and our daughter loves to sing and dance so we figured she would love to write a story that would then be made into a song she could dance to,” says Jackie.
The family connected with Tom Chester, Director of Production & Programs at Sing Me A Story, who explained a bit about the organization. “Sing Me a Story started, at its heart, with a true belief in the power of music along with the belief that, as the saying goes, the greatest gift is the gift of giving.” Says Tom. “Kids, no matter what they face, have a story to give us. What they choose to give us is far greater than any prompt we could give them, especially in the circumstance of terminal illness.” Tom immediately got to work with Grace and soon her story, “The Three of Us,” was immortalized as a song.
Jackie said Grace didn’t really understand while she was writing her story how it would become a real song, but after hearing it, she absolutely loved it. “She listened to it for days and shared it with her teacher and class who told her she was famous now because she was on YouTube,” said Jackie.
“We loved how it all turned out. It was so great to be able to FaceTime with the artist who turned her story into a song! She was such a sweetheart and had a beautiful voice!”
“From the ALS community, I've worked with kids who write about all kinds of wonderful things,” says Tom. “Fun stories about pink dogs who leave muddy paw prints in movie theaters to sea turtles the size of houses - all of which become songs to let families laugh for a while. And there are stories about family vacations, tea parties to look forward to, and reasons why they love their mother. The kids in these families give us what they want to give, and, no matter what they write, it is a special experience - and leaves a special song - for each family to cherish forever.”
Special thanks to the Swope family for allowing us to share their heart-warming story with the ALS community.
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