Well hello. If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably come for one of two reasons: 1) You want to know more about Sarah Frei and the “Strong” song that I wrote for her. Or 2) You want the sheet music to the song. If it’s another reason, comment on this post and I will answer you by emailing you.
Before I begin, I will say that working on this song has been a total privilege – one that I will never forget. Here’s a little bit of the story behind the song:
FIRST, ABOUT SARAH.
Sarah Frei and her friends were driving home last summer from a trip to the lake. It was July 30, 2020. The way home was through Logan Canyon, a long, narrow canyon with a two-lane highway. Sarah was sitting in the back seat when their car was hit head on by a drunk driver. Her friends sustained some minor injuries, but Sarah was not so fortunate. She was paralyzed from the waist down, and subsequently had to have both legs amputated.
I didn’t know anything about Sarah or her story until I got a phone call from her uncle, Jake Tesch, who I had met a few years before working on another music project. He told me about Sarah and asked if I would consider writing a song about for her.
I said I’d give it a try.
Of course, I knew it wouldn’t be an easy project, but when I actually started writing, I had no idea how to even approach it. I mean, what could I possibly say to Sarah? I couldn’t say “Everything will be all right.” I couldn’t say, “I know how you feel.” I thought it might be best to write the song from Sarah’s point of view, but there again, I wasn’t sure what she would say either.
I had an opportunity to interview Sarah and her parents over Zoom. I was amazed by her. She was upbeat and cheerful and hopeful and honest and sincere and sweet and adorable. I could go on and on. She is everything she appears to be on her Instagram. She is truly inspiring.
After learning about her that day and reading every post on her Instagram, I remember thinking, “There is no way I can write a song good enough for this young woman.” It just seemed impossible to tell this story and do it justice.
ABOUT THE SONG.
It took me a few months to come up with something that I thought would work, but when I finally did, I wrote Jake an email to tell him I had something to show him. It was so long since he had contacted me that I wrote “Don’t faint” in the email subject line.
We set up a day to go over the song, which was a week or two out because Jake and his family were on vacation. I tweaked the song here and there, and stewed over it, worried about it, obsessed over it as I waited for the day. May 24th. It was the only viable idea I’d had, but it didn’t feel quite right.
Then a few days before the 24th, I got a magazine in the mail and the cover story was about Sarah. I read it that night just before going to sleep and then I knew that for SURE the song wasn’t right. In fact, I felt like I had missed the mark all together.
I tossed and turned all night – and finally got out my notes and started over. At about 3:00 AM.
If you’ve ever read my About Me page, you learned that I’m an insomniac, and that many of my best projects are done in the middle of the night. So working on a song at that time isn’t unusual for me. But what was unusual was how fast the words came.
“There is a miracle in every breath I take
And I am living proof of Your amazing grace.
The darkest nights I know will always end with dawn
And You’ll be here to make me strong.”
The third line was one I had used in the previous version of the song, but everything else was new. Over the next couple of days, I changed the verses as well, and by the 24th, I had a song. And I have to give credit to several people who gave their input – starting with John, who ALWAYS gives helpful feedback. My nephew and awesome musician, Jed Jones. And several of my children – Gary, Scotty and Rebecca. As always, I didn’t write it alone. I had help.
But of course, my biggest source of help was the Lord. It always is.
TO WRAP IT UP.
Like I said at the beginning, it’s been a HUGE privilege to work on this project. To get to know Jake and his wife, Amanda. And the other members of their group, Vocalocity. And especially Sarah and her family. Words are always inadequate in a situation like this. But I am beyond grateful for the opportunity. It’s been amazing.
OH! AND ABOUT GETTING THE MUSIC.
The mp3 will be available on iTunes in a few days. When it is, I’ll put a link here.
And the sheet music will be available in a few weeks. I wish I had it for you today, but I don’t. Check back, if you’re interested, around August 21st. (You can get the acappella sheet music on Vocalocity’s site. The music here will be a vocal solo with piano accompaniment.)
Thanks for listening.
This song was suggested on YouTube after I listened to another of your songs shared by a friend. My daughter just had a very unexpected double lung transplant. The words about every breath being a miracle could not be more perfect. My daughter loves to sing and play piano, and I would love to get the sheet music to be able to let her sing it, it seems the perfect song for her too!
Thank you so much for the back story and the inspired song. I would love the sheet music. Please let me know how I can obtain it.
What a beautiful song and for a beautiful girl. Thank you Shawna for all your music. I have your songs playing constantly in my home and I love them all. You are beautifully talented and your music is applicable to so many situations. May God continue to bless you with your talent.
Thank you for this beautiful, inspiring song!! I keep listening to it every time I get a chance.
I thought about you when I saw you had written STRONG. I knew the story, and loved the song. I thought how wonderful it must feel to look at what you have shared with all of us over the years. Your testimony in music is beautiful. There will be a wonderful reunion for you in heaven. Thanks for sharing your talent!
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