It might take a little compassion to spread a message.
Claire Grace, Voice of the Heartland finalist, will host the Show Compassion Foundation Benefit Concert on Saturday and Sunday in the Seretean Center.
She also established the Show Compassion Foundation.
Grace, whose sister has a one-of-a-kind chromosomal abnormality, has volunteered with many organizations that help people with special needs. She has volunteered with the Special Olympics since she was a child. Grace said she knew she had to do something after seeing a loss of funding for several organizations that help people with special needs.
“When I saw these organizations I really love take budget cuts, I decided why not fund them myself,” Grace said.
Grace founded the Show Compassion Foundation when she was 16. She spreads her message with a three-step approach, “See, Stop and Start,” to help people become more inclusive toward people with special needs.
“'See' is you have to see people as people first, no matter what’s different from you,” Grace said. “'Stop' is people need to stop using derogatory terms to describe others. 'Start' is to start interacting with people, even if it’s a simple wave or a smile.”
She also said she tries to remind others that “it could be you.”
“It could be you has a double meaning,” Grace said. “(It) means that it could be you (who has) special needs or any type of difference, everybody is one accident away of being differently-abled. (It) could also mean that it could be you (who) makes the difference how people are treated.”
Grace has spoken to more than 3,000 people about her message, from elementary kids to senior citizens. She received many honors, including the National Youth Activist Award in Inspiring Arts and the President’s Volunteer Service Award, for her charity work.
“Receiving those awards means that we’re getting something done,” Grace said. “It shows that we're making an impact.”
Grace will showcase her talent in the upcoming concert. Her work as a lead and the only child in her first Oklahoma State University Opera at age 12 sparked her interest in singing. After Grace's initial performance, she found herself in multiple lead roles in major musical theater productions.
April Golliver, director of Opera Studies at OSU and a board member on the Show Compassion Foundation, has worked with Grace and her vocal cords since Grace was 12.
Grace’s charity work and the concert that will take place this weekend have inspired Golliver.
“For Claire to be a young teenager and do these things is inspiring,” Golliver said. “Most kids her age are doing extracurricular activities in high school, but for her to do that and take the time out to give back to those in need is heartwarming.”
Golliver said after working with a student who has special needs, she thinks the concert is important to the world.
“The concert is important because it will show that showing compassion is not an expectation, but it’s a duty that all people need to show compassion and that all people need to be like Claire,” Golliver said. “The student I currently have doesn’t want to be treated any differently than any other person. She’ll tell you that she just wanted to be treated with respect.”
Richard Hansen, coordinator of Veteran Student Academic Services, has invited Grace to perform the national anthem for many veteran events since 2015. After getting to know Grace, Hansen said her talent and charity work impressed him.
“She’s a phenomenal young girl,” Hansen said. “She’s doing things at the age of 16 that most adults would never do in their lifetime.”
The others in the concert lineup are OSU student and Spotify artist Cole Norton and Triana Browne, a former OSU track star and Miss Oklahoma 2017.
Grace said she thought the two guests are perfect for her concert.
“When I first heard Cole’s music, I was like, 'This is really good,'” Grace said. “Then I said, 'This would be a perfect fit for the concert.'”
Norton said Grace’s talent impressed him after he saw her perform.
“She has a really amazing voice,” Norton said. “I’m really impressed at her ability to move around on stage and sing because I know how hard that is.”
Norton said he can't wait to perform for the people and for the Show Compassion Foundation.
“It’s an honor knowing that I would be considered for such a charitable event,” Norton said. “Knowing my voice can help raise money for a good cause means the world to me.”
The concert will spread a message about Grace’s foundation and share how one act of kindness can go a long way.
The Saturday show will take place at 7 p.m. Sunday's show is at 2 p.m. in the Seretean Center. Tickets for the concert are $10 online and $15 at the door. Proceeds will go to the Show Compassion Foundation.
“It will be the best concert you’re ever going to see for $10,” Grace said.