Jamie Grace Harper may be the world’s only musician with Tourette syndrome, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, echolalia, anxiety disorder—and a Grammy nod. Nominated for Best Contemporary Christian Music Song (for her breakout hit “Hold Me”), Harper, 20, attended February’s Grammy ceremony with her family; the rest of the year, she lives in Atlanta with her parents, James and Mona Harper, cofounders and pastors of Kingdom City Church.
Harper is open about her struggles with Tourette syndrome, which started when she was about 8 years old in the form of tics—involuntary movements and sounds—and an obsession to repeat certain behaviours and phrases. “It took our lives for a spin,” she says of the diagnosis. “I learned early on that Tourette’s is not life-threatening, but it is life-altering.”
Harper has been crazy busy since releasing her debut album, One Song at a Time, in September 2011. In addition to more than 100 shows, she’s been working on a new album, writing a novel, recording a Christmas song (with older sister Morgan) for a holiday project, speaking on the Revolve Tour (for teen girls), acting in a movie (Grace Unplugged, due in 2013), and, incredibly, graduating from college, with a degree in children’s ministry from Point University (formerly Atlanta Christian College). All before her 21st birthday.