- Artist: Maria Graft
- Format: CD
- Release Date:11/25/2008
Born and raised in Miami Beach, Florida, my parents considered me a "musical prodigy" from the time I could speak (that's parents for you). I sang songs standing next to my Dad in the car on the front seat at the tender age of two (long before the days of required car seats). By three, I was plunking out nursery rhyme songs and lullabies on my toy piano (oh, those were the days!). My first stage experience occurred when I was only five, singing and dancing in front of about 1000 people with a Flamenco dance troupe where I was a soloist singing in both English and Spanish. I fell in love with performing - singing and soloing in choirs from elementary school through high school. I turned to writing secular songs and poetry in high school as an outlet for the typical emotional turmoil that teenagers often experience. Feeling a void in my life, I competed at the state level in vocal solo performance, jazz choir, women's choir, show choir and theatre to keep me busy and to try to fill that void. In college, I seemed to take some needed time off from music. My entire four years at Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois) failed to provoke me to write a single song. Perhaps it was because I was too busy studying, but more likely it was because I experienced a happiness and contentment with life different from ever before. With music still being a powerful outlet for me, I joined the University Singers where I met the love of my life, a young man from Barrington, Illinois, named Michael Graft. By January of 1987, I knew that I would marry this young man (although he was not quite aware of this yet). I had stopped going to church many years before, and it was Michael who encouraged me to return. It was because of Michael that I was reacquainted with God-the first big step in my spiritual journey. We were wed four and a half years later and settled down in Barrington in September of 1991. It was also here that I began my journey in music ministry at my church and home base, Holy Family (Inverness, IL). It wasn't until October of 1997 that I began a true relationship with Jesus, however. While at a Darlene Zschech concert, I felt the Holy Spirit's power for the first time. I heard the song, 'So You Would Come', and I finally understood that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was for me personally-that no matter how I had failed in my life, regardless of what I had done in the past, this was a new beginning and that I was forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ. I couldn't do anything to make Him love me any more or any less! He loved me, and I was His child. I asked for His forgiveness and knew that He was MY personal savior! That was only the beginning for me. I delved into God's Word- the Bible. I couldn't get enough of it! And that's when the music began to flow once more. Through the Holy Spirit, an outpouring of music came to me. I found myself humming new melodies and words of praise to Jesus every day. It was difficult to keep everything straight in my head! I had to begin writing it all down. And then, I knew that God was taking my music ministry onto a more serious path. Then the Labor of Love project was born. I have three wonderful children- Christina, age 10, Annie, age 8 and Michael, III, age 7. Their most popular requests make up the Labor of Love CD. Including the lullaby I wrote for the kids, entitled He'll Be There. My children were the ones to 'approve' the final form of the lyrics for the song. When the song was finished, I played it for my husband, Michael. He cried and said it was the most beautiful song I had ever written. That was, and still is, the best complement I have ever gotten! Michael is my toughest critic. He tells me what I want to know, but most importantly, he tells me what I need to know-like it or not. He is my truest and most devoted friend. He was a great support to me throughout the production of both the Labor of Love and Running Home projects. I could never have done this without his love and support. The Running Home CD is a project that consists of many of the early songs that I wrote when I became a born again Christian. I am so excited about this project. The music is very personal and introspective. The listener gets to peek in at a portion of my spiritual journey. It's like peeking into my journal. You get to know all the good, bad and the weak sides of me. The Lord has given me something to say through my ministry. I am so blessed that He has given me this opportunity. I know that God will honor it and do incredible things with it.
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