Kristen Grainger is a poet and performing songwriter living in the Pacific Northwest whose social justice songwriting has received national recognition for excellence. Her perspective reflects a career path that has twisted and forked a few times (she has served as a university vice president and also as speechwriter for two Oregon governors). Attuned to equity and social justice themes, her songwriting illuminates universal truths in ways that are moving and beautiful, but also fosters connection, seeks common ground. Complicated or difficult issues presented through song may be easier to access and process, even inspire activism. Her goal is public discourse that is more inclusive, more representative of all people, all communities, and therefore a more accurate and informed reflection of our collective experiences. That, she believes, will yield the best policies and laws.
Recognizing that women are underrepresented across all aspects of the music industry, Kristen co-founded She's Speaking with two other songwriters, a project to elevate and amplify women's voices, artistry and stories. Named for Kamala Harris' quip during the vice presidential debate of October 2020, "(I'm speaking!"), She's Speaking started as a YouTube channel during the pandemic shutdown, collecting more than 70 songs by women songwriters about women who inspire them, then produced live-stream concerts until public performances resumed. Since then, She's Speaking-LIVE, a road show of eight women songwriters, has traveled in Oregon and Washington during Women's History Month (March), bringing songs from across many genres to audiences of all kinds.
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