On Wednesday, Chicago-area native and out singer/songwriter Steve Grand invited fans to invest in his first album through a Kickstarter campaign. As of Friday afternoon, 2,078 backers, which Grand humbly refers to as his GrandFam, have already pledged over $131,000.
"I have a lot of faith in my fans," Grand told ChicagoPride.com of his grassroots effort. "I really knew they'd come through for me. For this to happen so fast, I'm just blown away. I'm so grateful."
Grand, who turned 24-years-old today, was hoping to raise $81,000 by March 30 to make his dream of releasing a full-length album a reality. Within 24 hours, his Kickstarter campaign had been shared roughly 9,000 times on Facebook. In less than two days, it became one of only 32 out of more than 27,000 music projects in Kickstarter's history to successfully realize $100,000 or more in funding.
"My fans are the reason I've gotten this far. I love them all," Grand said.
It's those fans who sounded off on his Kickstarter page, hailing him for his same-sex country songs like "All-American Boy," a song based on his own experience of falling for a straight friend during summer camp.
"Love you, and love what you said about believing that expressions of love in art can't be trumped by a damn pronoun. Amen!" one backer wrote.
This time last year, Grand was a little known singer-songwriter who graduated from Lemont High School in 2008. But that changed on July 2 when his self-funded music video, "All-American Boy," a song about unrequited love between two men, posted to YouTube. The video quickly went viral, accumulating more than 2.75 million views, landing Grand in the national spotlight.
Hailed as a "viral sensation" and one of America's "first openly gay country stars," Grand then released a second single, "Stay," and then a third, "Back to California," which offers a sneak peek at what fans can expect on his first record.
"Now that we've reached our original goal, we can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that this album is definitely going to be made," Grand said Friday.
With the album fully-funded, Grand is back at The Studio in Las Vegas with Aaron Johnson, who is best known for producing the first records from The Fray, working on the second set of songs that will be on the album - twelve in all.
"This album is pulling from a very large catalog of music that I've written all on my own for all the years that I've been writing," Grand told ChicagoPride.com. "Some of the music is songs from when I was 18 and some songs that I've written over the last couple of months."Grand said he's put a lot of thought into what was going on the album.
"It is like a big chunk of my soul that I'm putting out into the world," he said.
Four of the twelve tracks have been competed and the album is expected to be completed in May with a release party planned in Chicago, according to Grand.
"I can never give enough love to Chicago," he added.
Grand told ChicagoPride.com that the additional funds from the successful Kickstarter campaign will be used to market and promote the album properly. If you'd like to support Grand's efforts visit Kickstarter.com
. Listen to "Back to California"
In addition to "All-American Boy" and "Stay", Grand released "Back to California" this week. Each song is an example of what fans can expect from his new album. You can download "Back to California" for free on Bandcamp