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Grace Anna debuts in the Big Apple

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Casey County child appears on ‘The Katie Couric Show’

By Larry Rowell

Grace Anna Rodgers, the 3-year-old who has captured millions of hearts around the world by singing in videos posted on social media, swiped additional hearts when she made her national TV debut recently on the Katie Couric show.

“It’s crazy. I’ve never seen the likes of anything like it in my life. It’s a little overwhelming,” said Angie Rodgers, Grace Anna’s mother.

The little girl, born with a rare form of dwarfism called Conradi Hunemann Syndrome, uses her beaming smile and voice in singing the Star Spangled Banner and Amazing Grace on YouTube videos and on her Facebook page.

As news of Grace’s talent and love for singing has spread in all forms of media, the offers to appear on TV shows and other events are pouring in to the family who lives in the South Fork area of Casey County.

Angie said that on Jan. 24, a producer from the Katie Couric show in New York City contacted her at school where she teaches in Russell County to ask if the family ― dad Jeff, and big brother, Isaiah Seth Spears, would appear on the show the following Tuesday.

“One of the producers saw Grace Anna’s video and they e-mailed about contact information on Friday,” Angie said. ‘We want you on the show. We think Grace is a little hero and she’s really inspiring to us,’” Angie said she was told by a producer.

The family flew to NYC on Monday and checked into their room at the Empire Hotel.

Jeff said that the show gave each family member $50 per day for food and the next morning, tired from the whirlwind journey, they decided to order room service at the hotel.

“That breakfast ending up costing us $150,” Jeff said, adding that he and Angie had eggs, potatoes, and breakfast meat, Grace had a fruit tray, and Isaiah got the biggest surprise of all ― $25 for pancakes and sausage.

“They were blueberry pancakes and I don’t even like blueberry pancakes,” he said. “They made me feel bad for not eating $25 worth of pancakes but I ate them,” Isaiah said, smiling.

At noon, a limousine chauffeured the family to the studio in Manhattan where they began the ordeal of preparing for the show by meeting with the producers and getting makeup and hair done.

At the appointed time, the family was ushered onstage where they met Couric during a commercial break.

“It was surreal. I told her I was really nervous and she said, ‘Look at me and talk to me, you’re just talking to me,’” Couric told Angie. And, it wasn’t only Angie who was nervous.

“I was so nervous that I could hear my own heart beating,” Isaiah said.

When the show went live with the family seated on stage, the thunderous applause upset Grace but it didn’t take her long to get settled down.

Angie, Jeff, and Isaiah fielded questions about Grace’s ministry to the world using her music and personality to lift hearts and sagging spirits.

A special surprise during the almost five minute segment was the appearance of fellow Kentuckian and country music start Naomi Judd, who was born in Ashland.

As Judd presented Grace with a huge basket of gifts, she began softly singing Amazing Grace to which Grace said, “Don’t sing that.”

Laughing, Angie said that Grace considers that her song because she sings it all the time.

After the show and a photo session with Couric and Judd, the family was whisked to the airport for the flight back to Kentucky.

Movie deal

Angie said that an announcement will be made this week about a special movie documentary featuring Grace that will be filmed in Nashville.

“Where is the Love?” is produced by Elizabeth Anne Martin and will be a series of uplifting stories of people who have overcome adversity.

And, based on talks with Martin, Angie said that other TV offers will more than likely be forthcoming, including a film about the Rodgers’ family.

Still, Grace seems to take it all in stride.

“I don’t think it bothers her one bit. I think she enjoys the attention. She likes attention and she likes to sing,” Angie said.

The video with Grace Anna appearing on the Katie Couric show can be seen at http://katiecouric.com/videos/3-year-old-youtube-sensation.