Amazing Grace

Uploaded by AttitudeTV on 12.09.2010

Grace McIntyre has had a lifetime of stammering and struggling to make herself understood
but when she sings people see another side of this 23 year old.
I just tell myself to stay calm and enjoy myself and there isn’t anything to worry
It’s amazing to see her on days when she’s not very fluent in her speech, blocking a
lot and then suddenly to start singing and let rip.
Have you got a rehearsal tonight?
No Tuesday.
Grace has had a chronic stammer ever since she began to talk; she was also born with
As a child she had ongoing speech therapy but from a very young age they noticed that
when she sang she had no stutter. They added a singing teacher into the weekly round of
She loved quite esoteric music from a really little girl and her Granny (my mother) introduced
her to things like Gilbert & Sullivan and Carmen and things like that when she was really
little so at three and four she was enjoying watching videos of operettas with her Granny
and we noticed that she could sing one of the high solo parts of one of the operettas
when she was really little.
Through her school years Grace struggled to make friends.
I didn’t actually feel confident, I was very nervous and I was very unsettled.
She didn’t really converse, she talked to herself in terms of her own private play and
she could talk quite fluently including using quite a lot of accents and quite complex conversations
between usually little animals and toys.
Still she always felt judged.
I actually found it a real challenge in the classroom like when I had teacher aides around
me all the time because that made it … like other kids obviously saw that and that
made them sort of “Oh what’s wrong with her”.
Grace feels her stammer has limited her job options but she now works for one of the most
understanding employers in the country – the Fordyce Group which supports people with
This is the VX510 and these are the sheets I’ve done over the weekend. I want to see
if you can follow it. If you look on the bottom there…
That way…
That’s the girl.
Her job is servicing EFTPOS machines but it’s the atmosphere here more than the job that
Grace loves.
I’ve found what’s really for me been like working on skills that I didn’t have a chance
to work on when I was a kid which was like people skills.
Hi guys.
Hi Grace how are you?
I’m good and you guys?
Music has always provided a big social outlet, she was in the children’s cathedral choir,
the Wellington Youth choir and now she’s part of the Gilbert & Sullivan Theatre Company
in Wellington.
Grace is part of the chorus; they’re working on a production from the comic opera Die Fladamaus.
During rehearsals there’s absolutely no sign of the stutter, she literally doesn’t
miss a beat.
I believe it comes out of a different part of her brain so I guess there’s a scientific
reason for why she can sing fluently and not always speak fluently but she’s a natural.
Because she’s accepted she’s now started to make friends.
I’ve found stuff has just got easier as I’ve got older, it really upsets me when
people say “Oh she’s got Aspergers Syndrome” because as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t
do very much to unstable me at all, it’s my stutter that I find hard.
Do you have times when it completely goes away?
Yep, if I’m angry it does which I think talking about that question just then got
me a bit angry too and it was good to be able to get that off my chest.
Grace has a lovely round rich soprano quality with a bell like sound and lovely top notes.
The musical director reckons Grace should look to further develop her voice, maybe there’s
a future career for her too.
She can do it but she needs help and she needs hard work and she needs discipline. It’s
harder for her, it’s not out of the question.
What about the singing? Can you express yourself more clearly that way?
I get adrenalin from it
and it takes a while for it to go after I come out of any music or training or whatever
I’ve done.
In the two days we spent with Grace she became more comfortable. As that comfort level increased
she became more fluent with speech.
If I start to tense up then I know it’s not going to like sound as good.
So if you’re warmed up it would be great to hear you sing now.
Sure. Singing
I think what’s fantastic for Grace is that the world gets to see who she really is when
she sings and it’s so easy for people to define her by the things she’s maybe not
able to do or struggles with.
I’ve learnt to love myself, be my own best friend and that’s why I’ve found that
things have got
really awesome.