If any musical realm should be open to physically handicapped performers, it's contemporary Christian music.
Rachael Bae "Grace" (digital single)
If any musical realm should be open to physically handicapped performers, it's contemporary Christian music. It shouldn't matter among the Lord's people whether those with talent enough to sing of Him commercially are pop star photogenic. Speaking as a physically disabled person myself, this seems to me like one of what should be several distinguishing characteristics between cCm and the rest of the musical spectrum.
The above point wouldn't matter in relation to straight-A high school freshman Rachael Bae if she didn't appear in her wheel chair in the picture accompanying her debut single, "Grace," Bae has Ullrich muscular dystrophy, and her arms are stronger than her legs. Her voice is still girlish, but nonetheless packs a substantial whallop.
A good part of her impact is that she's up to the lush arrangement on "Grace." This is the kind of reverent, orchestral inspirational song not heard in rotation on cCm radio since probably the mid-1990's. Nowadays, this could, perhaps, pass muster on stations specializing in the counter movement of conservative Christian music; even then, perhaps only by dint of the youthfulness of Bae's instrument, it may still be a touch too much for that listenership's core demographic. In any case, her mother has written a worshipful throwback of a number, recalling the lush sweeping heyday of Larnelle Harris, Sandi Patty, et al.
Bae's not about to compete with the kind of powerhouse presence embodied by Patty nor, for instance, Cynthia Clawson. Not yet, anyway. Bae's singing has its own pleasing warmth, though. And it's encouraging to hear someone of Bae's age pursue a a style this mature and not succumb to whatever defines the current iteration of tweenpop. Good on champion of Christian handicapped inclusiveness Joni Eareckson Tada for giving Bae some exposure on her daily radio commentary, where I found out about her.
-Jamie Lee Rake