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Musician/ex-pro athlete Sami Grisafe talks Etheridge, Trump, Clinton
by Sarah Toce

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Lesbian former professional athlete Sami Grisafe is aware of the fact that she sounds like another familiar voice when she sings—and she's fine with it.

"I am honored to be compared to Melissa Etheridge," Grisafe said. "She has such a strong voice, both as a singer and songwriter. I am inspired by her choice to use her platform to bring people together and create change for the better. Whether it be 'I Need To Wake Up' or 'I Run For Life' or her latest song inspired by the recent tragedy in Orlando, 'Pulse,' she creates music that shines a light on issues we can no longer ignore. I hope to have the same impact with my voice."

Grisafe not only hopes to have a similar impact as Etheridge—she already does. Her single "All-Un-American" has surprised all expectations, hitting the 50,000-view mark on Facebook and continuing to rise.

"I wrote 'All-Un-American' as a love song to the United States of America. Yes, I knock a certain somebody in the song, but that's because I believe his campaign is threatening the very things that make this country great," she said. "Yes, we have an unsavory history, as many nations do, but what we stand for, what we strive for, the words that we have chiseled in monuments and woven into our fabric are our moral compass. We should be working to get closer to achieving these proclamations, not recklessly abandoning them."

The songs asks a simple question: "Who do we want to be as Americans?"

"The song resonates with me, because America has lived up to being the land of opportunity for me. As a woman, I was given the opportunity, because of Title IX, to play football in high school which would later lead to playing for my country," Grisafe said. "As a lesbian, I have the freedom to marry, just as my straight friends do. As an artist, I have the freedom to write songs like this and not be persecuted. I love this country and I would rather fight for our potential, than cower to fear-mongering divisiveness."

Not to name names, but it's apparent who she's talking about throughout the song. Even so, she has fighting words for one Mr. Donald J. Trump—as any former pro athlete might.

"I don't hate you and I'm not delusional to think that I am in a place to give anyone political advice," she shared. "For me, it all boils down to this: 'What message will we send to young people in our country about what it means to be a leader?' We need to take a hard look at what we want to role model for our children. This is not a reality show. This is our future."

Speaking of the future, Grisafe works tirelessly to sculpt her own.

"Music helps me find clarity and peace," she said. "Anytime I am faced with something difficult in my life, I know it is just a song away from being understood. Sometimes it's through the process of writing a song that I can understand an obstacle, and sometimes someone else's song enlightens me. Either way, music clears my mind and fills my heart."

The former footballer broke the glass ceiling in her own life as a young adult.

"Football is a microcosm of life. You have big and small goals," she shared. "You put together a plan to achieve those goals. You have to work with people to execute your plan. Sometimes everything goes your way, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I have never met an obstacle in life that I couldn't solve from my experience playing football. We're all trying to win at life, but like football, when it's all over and the clock reads zeros, all that matters is that you prepared to the best of your ability, gave it your maximum effort, learned from your mistakes, embraced your teammates and respected your opponents."

Football taught her many lessons, including: "One, think bigger than yourself. Two, hard work pays off. Three, fight for your dreams like you're inches away from them, because you just might be."

Grisafe's upcoming passages have roots in a list she builds on every single day.

"Every time I scratch something off of my to-do list it feels like five more things have been added in its place," she said. "I want to connect with millions of people all over the world through music, write books, act in thought-provoking films, produce documentaries that tell inspiring stories, mentor young people, help create a world that is more aware, proactive, and kind. I have many more goals, but that should keep me pretty busy for a while."

Well, that and re-inventing the internet with her music.

"It's hard to anticipate any kind of traction on the internet," she said. "You never know what will 'hit' and what won't. At the same time, I had confidence in the talent of the musicians, the producers involved and the quality of production, both the song and video. Working with producers Colin Wolfe ( Dr. Dre, Michael Jackson, Madonna ) and Evan Ryan as well as the incredibly talented musicians ( Evan Ryan, Keaton Simons, Edouard Korvin ) and videographer, Zach Ginnever, was a powerful experience."

The video for "All-Un-American" itself made for quite the entrance.

"The music video features archival footage of the Rosa Parks and the fall of the Berlin wall as well as recent events including a Black Lives Matter march and Chicago's 2016 Pride Parade with pictures of those murdered at the Pulse Club in Orlando. I knew that we had a strong song musically as well as a provocative message within the lyrics and visually through the music video."

Mission accomplished.

And her message to the countless families left behind following the Orlando Pulse nightclub attack?

"We've never met, but I know you. You are my parents, my brother, my grandparents, my girlfriend," she said. "You are the people in my life I love with all my heart. Your tragedy is our tragedy. Our tragedy as a community, our tragedy as a nation, our tragedy as the human race. May we all learn from your strength and love. May we remember your loved ones for the beautiful people they were, not as nameless victims."

Make no mistake about it, Grisafe will be voting for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 General Election.

"I am pro-Hillary," she shared. "Full-disclosure: I was a Bernie supporter at the beginning of this election. I was inspired by his dedication to the people and his unwavering tenacity to stand up for the hardworking American. I don't believe his campaign ended in vain because Bernie's ideas are now influencing some of Hillary's plans. Hillary Clinton has made mistakes in her career, but so has every person who has been put in a position to make difficult decisions. It's easy to stand back and criticize someone's work in the comfort of our ignorance, righteously in hindsight. None of us know what she knew: the pressure, the consequences, the options she had in the heat of the moment."

Then, she came up with an analogy only Grisafe could pull off.

"I liken it to the Monday morning quarterback, which pales in comparison to running a country, but a subject I feel comfortable with none-the-less. Every quarterback is criticized about decisions they make in a game. 'Clearly, that receiver was open, why didn't you throw it to them?!' The fact of the matter is every leader wants to do a good job. They want to win the game. But there is so much more happening during in the moment than the bystander knows. There are personal dynamics, history, stat quotas, and the ever-ticking clock. The point is, if we are going to have someone lead our country, I would much rather play a quarterback who has lost a couple championships than someone who has merely watched a game from the box seats."

Learn more about Sami Grisafe and listen to "All-Un-American" here:

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