The song shows that in the midst of what they say, what matters most is what one believes in

They say, what I am is unacceptable

They say, only perfection is beautiful

But the truth is, beauty is in everyone

I am beautiful you are beautiful

– “They Say” by Chris Crane

Like a dream, the words speak to me – raise my soul from the bitter ashes that can stifle long-delayed dreams. They revive hopes that have been withered or trampled by life and time, by the naysayers, by those who see us only through the prism of their exhausted lens.

By those who see us less than. Like tying a square into a round hole. misfits in society.

The words remind me, move me to take charge of my future, remove the dust of disbelief and self-doubt and restore my destiny. Hopefully, for now. To believe again. to dream.

Just don’t listen to what they say

Too much vanity in the world today

Find your own way, go your own way

You are beautiful I am beautiful

The words remind me that in the midst of what they “say,” what matters most is what one believes in. What we say to ourselves when we are insulted, mocked, or ridiculed because of who we are or how we look or speak.

Their eyes dimmed because of where we came from. or because of a disability. They call ugly, stupid, stupid, poor, idiot, “retarded …” considered less than.

Words are food for the soul. Even for a soul as old as mine is in need of a reminder of the simple truths that loved ones once said in love since then, though my ears are still long to hear the contemplations of their hearts, which once filled with solace, divine purpose and passion.

It’s Christopher Crane’s words. He’s a 41-year-old multi-talented singer-songwriter and performer, who knows little about what they “say” and its ability to paralyze the soul.

Born with brachial plexus paralysis, Chris mastered piano, drums, and guitar, and honed his craft in church while growing up in Lumberton, Mississippi, despite underdevelopment and limited use of his left arm and hand.

He still remembers well the weight of shame he carried in silence for being a different boy. Those hot summer days in Mississippi when the other boys were in T-shirts or tank tops, and he wore a jacket to try and hide his arm. He remembers the times he was teased and fighting because of it. He also remembers that he eventually discovered empowerment through music and discovered its power to uplift, inspire, and heal.

Chris, who lives in Milwaukee with his wife and two school-aged children, guides young adults through free music and arts summer camps. He was running one of those summer camps a few years ago when he crushed the silliness of a young girl.

He extracted the words from the children’s fray, and wrote “They Say,” an uplifting symphonic song in which his soulful voice drips gently to the melody—the way his mother would sing at my grandfather’s Pentecost church on Chicago’s West Side.

The song, which Chris hopes will inspire children and adults to transcend physical and emotional barriers, has been translated into 16 languages. Hope it translates to 50.

“They say,” in my estimation, is an anthem worth listening—and singing—until it penetrates deeply into the soul. It is for anyone who has ever felt marginalized. For everyone teetering on the edge of hope. Each ship simply needs a tugboat to tow them into the depths of the vast ocean of their dreams.

That was the message I got from my breakfast last week with Chris, whom I haven’t seen since he was two or three, his mother, Jerry Crane, one of the “prayer warriors,” devoted Mothers of the Church. He prayed once with the morning of Tuesday and Friday. Chris and I remember over breakfast – about life, dreams, crossroads, and hope.

Chris, among the full of salmon buns, told how his deceased mother had been my angel in one of my darkest hours. How she was telling me: “The greater the suffering, the greater the grace.” How you encouraged my soul.

He told me how, in my words to him, he could hear his mother still talking to him. And in his words, I could still hear her talking to me.

Now is the time to meet

To find out what we believe in

Love was forever

I am beautiful you are beautiful

Click here to listenthey say

To learn more about Chris Crain, visit:

# O Lord

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