Maia Grandy, ’21, has overcome a lot in her life to get to where she is today – and today, her music is gaining attention for its original style and passion. After battling an eating disorder and depression, Maia’s music has helped in the healing process and her first album of songs, titled, “Maia Grandy: All That I Am,” has dropped.
Grandy, a Witt English major, first discovered that she loved music as a first grader, performing the song, “Tomorrow,” in the musical Annie. “Performing was something I was…shy about. I had to break out of that shell…I don’t often feel stage fright at this point, but when I do, it’s not a bad thing,” Grandy said.
Grandy, a quiet, shy young woman, comes from a family of musicians. “My brother and my dad both played for my CD. My dad played bass and piano. My brother, Sean, played drums.” She noted that her brother is a gifted drummer.
The family have played at their Lutheran church and she noted that she enjoys helping with RISE, a contemporary Christian worship service on the Witt campus. “I don’t think enough of the student body know about it,” but she said, she enjoys it.
Grandy is also involved in an internship at Covenant Methodist Church in Springfield, where she is teaching their gospel choir contemporary music and they are teaching her about the gospel genre.
“I’ve always thought of music, songwriting as an important part of my expression as a person. There are parts of myself I couldn’t express without writing songs. It has been really hard for me to put myself out there,” Grandy said.
“It’s almost therapeutic to me, being able to express things I have a hard time understanding unless I go through the songwriting process,” Grandy shared, explaining that music became real therapy during a very difficult period in her life, as she battled an eating disorder and depression. “I was in the hospital for awhile for an eating disorder. There’s something about an experience like that and music is a lot of how I got through it. Sometimes, it was all I had to look forward to, stripped of everything you had, imprisoned by it [the hospital and illness],” Grandy said it was not only the treatment, but her music that “was a big part of what saved me.”
“I’m doing a lot better physically. It [eating disorder] never really goes away. An illness like that adapts to anything you can throw at it,” Grandy explained, adding that her illness began with “really bad depression.”
The illness was stigmatizing for Grandy, who said while she was in the hospital, she met other girls like her who are “very bright, they had such depth to them. People think people with eating disorders are very shallow,” but Grandy says, that is not true.
Grandy loves Witt, but she admits, having had an eating disorder made life on a college campus difficult. “It’s hard to be on a college campus eating at the CDR.” She noted that eating in front of strangers and the lack of food options was hard for her. But she sought help from Witt and said the university has been “amazing” about accommodations. “I don’t know if I could have found a better school, more accepting.”
In addition to her family, Grandy has found those who have supported her in her struggles and successes. One was a high school teacher, who in addition to a Witt professor have inspired her to possibly become a teacher. “My 12th grade English teacher was a lot of inspiration. She introduced me to “Brave New World,” a book by Aldous Huxley. “It kind of changed my life. I’ve had depression for….six years. I wanted to be happy. The book said it is an illusion to be happy all the time.”
Witt Professor Dr. Bob Davis has also influenced Grandy. “Dr. Davis has been amazing. I don’t think I could ever express how important he’s become to me or how important it is to have someone in your life like him. He’s so understanding and so kind and he just really cares about his students. That love just shines through.”
It was while she was visiting Dr. Davis in his office one day that she told him about her upcoming performance at Un Mundo Café in Springfield featuring all original music. “I mentioned it in passing to him. I told him about it. I didn’t expect him to come. I didn’t think a professor would do that. It meant so much to me. He sat through the whole thing.”
The admiration is mutual. Dr. Davis shared, “I watched Maia perform live at Un Mundo this fall and I’ve seen several of her music videos. I love her music. It’s intense, intelligent and soulful. And Maia performs with unmistakable grace and charisma. If you can listen to her cover of Alessia Cara’s “Scars to Your Beautiful” and not be moved, you better check that you have a pulse.”
Grandy enjoyed recording her first CD. “It was really gratifying. It is so amazing to hear something so close to your heart be brought to its fullest. We were in the studio every now and then for a year or two.” Her cousin did the cover photography for the album, shot in Seal Beach, California. Her brother, Sean, is featured in the photo with her.
“When I first heard some of the demos, I definitely almost cried,” Grandy said. She noted that she would love to do a performance for Wittenberg sometime.
Her songwriting is important also. “I do feel like songwriting is not something I can control. It just comes together,” Grandy said.
One of her favorite original tunes on the album is “Show Me How.” Grandy wrote it for her high school English teacher, who has not yet heard it. She said she wrote it because of the “impact she has had on my life….feeling so grateful for everything she taught me.”
Another song she has performed, which is not original work, is “Scars to Your Beautiful,” by Alessia Cara. “It’s about eating disorders. It’s about telling someone they don’t need to feel worthless or they’re not beautiful. They’re perfect the way they are.”
Grandy, who enjoys alternative rock, Christian music, pop and classic rock, said that she likes entertaining audiences at coffee shops, restaurants and benefit concerts.
“I have just always been told that I have a gift. I can’t remember the first time someone told me that. I get that validation from other people. That’s helped,” Grandy said, adding her family and friends are supportive. “They listen to it [her music] a lot.”
As for the eating disorder that she has struggled with, Grandy said, she has some advice for other Witt students facing the same struggle, encouraging that they seek therapy and “be open about it” with others. She said Witt is also a big help. “You don’t realize how much Witt will help.”
Witt students, faculty and staff can purchase a copy of her album. It is available for $7 and can be purchased by contacting Grandy at email@example.com.
It is her music that gives Grandy joy. “I want my passion to shine.”