It was almost one year ago that singer/songwriter Steve Grand released his self-made single, “All American Boy,” on YouTube. The Illinois-born artist maxed out a credit card to make the country-western ballad that tells a story of yearning, heartbreak and unrequited love.
“I wrote it from the most … genuine place in my soul. It’s not about being gay, it’s about that longing for someone,” Grand said in an interview with Good Morning America.
At the time, the video, lauded as groundbreaking for departing from the standard boy-girl romance story, had received more than a half-million views.
When Grand takes the stage at the 2014 Utah Pride Festival, “All American Boy” will likely have been viewed three million times. Grand’s record-breaking Kickstarter campaign – aimed at helping the self-made artist produce a record without the backing of a major record label – raised $326,000. The final tally of the campaign, which concluded in March, included 4,905 backers and quadrupled the original goal of $81,000.
“I’m overwhelmed. Grateful beyond measure. Truly moved by what you’ve done,” Grand wrote in a message to his supporters. “But most of all,” he said, “you made it 100 percent clear to the world that united we will make our voices heard. We will spread our message of love and inclusion to an even wider audience. And yes, as you said, we will change the world one song at a time.”
In addition to being a musician, Steve is an active figure in the equality movement. He has performed at Pride events around the nation and has partnered with causes such as The Human Rights Campaign, the Anti-Violence Project, Bailey House, the GLSEN Respect Awards, OUT & Equal Workplace Advocates and the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality.
Born in Chicago and raised in Lemont, Ill., Steve struggled for many years to accept himself as a gay person. Always feeling like an “outsider,” he turned to music for comfort and strength, taking piano lessons, and learning to play the guitar and flute.
Grand grew up active in Boy Scouts and sports. “Growing up that way, only to learn I was gay, which is not something everybody includes in the idea of what it means to be ‘all-American,’ I became very inspired to broaden the idea of what it means to be ‘all-American.’ ”
Steve completed his freshman year of college in the music program at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., and put his college career “on hold” in 2011 to focus on writing and recording original music.