♪ LINDSAY: If I didn't have songwriting in my life, I think I would be a completely different person.
Songwriting and music have just been this thing to help me connect to who I am.
♪ Growing up, I didn't even really understand how much this gave back to me and was an outlet.
There's something about holding a guitar on stage.
It kind of makes me feel like Superwoman, like I can do anything.
♪ I wrote my whole last record about how art helps us process our feelings, that words or just explaining something can't fully tap into.
It kind of connected all the dots, and it was like, "Oh, yeah, music is therapy."
♪ I'm always looking for new ideas on what to write or how to craft a song.
And I've heard about this woman named Greta who is helping survivors of sexual assault tell their story through art.
I am so excited to meet Greta.
I am so inspired by what she's chosen to dedicate her life to.
The minute I heard about your story, I could not wait to meet you and to see your blue hair in person.
[Greta laughs] LINDSAY: And what she doesn't know is I'm gonna take her story and turn it into a great song.
[cheering and applause] I'm Lindsay Ell, and Greta McClain is the inspiration for my American Anthem.
♪ [rain falling] ♪ GRETA: I'm Greta McClain.
I am a former police officer, was a police officer for 12 years, worked as a patrol officer before becoming a detective in the sexual assault unit.
And I believed it was important work, trying to help victims process what they went through and hopefully help them find justice.
I wanted to encourage people to come forward, but I understood why they didn't.
Not everyone in law enforcement necessarily believed or supported victims.
I...it made me really think whether I still wanted to stay in law enforcement.
I thought about it for probably almost a year, and just decided, "My heart's not in it anymore."
As a former police officer, I had the... feeling that...
I was maybe invincible.
And a few years later, I found out that that was a very wrong assumption when I became a victim of sexual assault.
I had stopped at a truck stop and had gotten 7 to 10 feet, I guess, from my car when I felt somebody grab me from behind and shove me against the hood of my car.
It seemed like the more that I tried to fight, the more that I struggled, the more he enjoyed it.
He would smile.
♪ He would actually laugh that I was trying to fight him off and that I had started crying.
♪ And when he was finished... he just got up and walked away like nothing had happened.
I kept thinking that, despite how long it had been since I'd been a police officer, that I still should have been able to fight him off.
Instead of filing a police report, I kept it a secret.
I did what a lot of victims do.
I started blaming myself.
The more I tried to pretend that it didn't happen, the faster I started spiraling into a depression.
I decided that I was going to kill myself.
♪ I started writing goodbye letters.
♪ And... [clears throat] ♪ I got through all of them just fine, until that very last letter to my best friend, Christina.
I could not put down what I wanted to put down.
So I finally got so frustrated that I just set it aside and thought, "Take a break, clear your head."
Next thing I remember is I'm scrolling through my Facebook feed.
I kept seeing the hashtag MeToo.
I started trying to research and figure out what this hashtag meant.
I was like, "Oh, my God.
There are so many people I know personally, friends of mine, who have, in one way or another, been sexually assaulted," and I had no idea.
And I thought, "You know what?
Let me give it a shot.
Let me give it tomorrow.
Just get through today, worry about tomorrow tomorrow."
As odd and maybe hokey as it sounds, the hashtag saved my life.
If that could save my life, maybe by me telling my story could possibly save just one person.
And that's how I ended up deciding to start my own organization, called Silent No Longer.
STEPHANIE: ♪ Don't know where I'm going ♪ GRETA: The mission of Silent No Longer is to provide creative programs for victims and survivors of sexual violence.
We have an event coming up called Shadows Ignited.
The poems, the plays, the monologues have all been written by clients, victims and survivors of sexual assault.
BETH: The owning of your own story is, is very powerful.
And then when you add art to it, it takes it to a new level of healing.
STEPHANIE: It allows it to become something beautiful.
♪ ...along the way ♪ [tapping rattle] [applause] [water dripping] ♪ LINDSAY: I am just about to walk inside and meet Greta for the first time.
I am so excited to meet this amazing woman and learn more about her story.
And my most favorite part about today, though, is I am just gathering information so that I can write a song.
It is inspired by her story.
GRETA: It's so good to finally meet you!
LINDSAY: It is so wonderful to finally meet you.
GRETA: Thank you for being here.
LINDSAY: Oh, my goodness.
Thank you for having me.
GRETA: I appreciate it.
You want to go inside and hang out for a while?
LINDSAY: Let's go.
♪ LINDSAY: Wow!
This is so beautiful.
GRETA: Isn't it, though?
I wish I had that talent.
LINDSAY: Me, too.
I am so happy to be here.
And I love your hair.
GRETA: Thank you.
I usually just do it for April because that's sexual assault awareness month.
LINDSAY: Of course.
GRETA: But I like it, so I think I'm gonna keep it.
LINDSAY: This place is really cool.
[laughs] GRETA: It is an awesome space, and I love the fact that it kind of goes with what Silent No Longer is wanting to do.
Silent No Longer started back in 2018.
And one of the things that we're working on this year is establishing creative expression programs for victims and survivors of sexual assault.
Pottery, painting... LINDSAY: Yeah.
GRETA: ...music, dance, poetry.
So I love the fact that, that we're here in a space like this, a creative space.
LINDSAY: I wrote my last album on my story and on wanting to demonstrate that you can find therapy through art.
And so, to hear you say that right now, it like hits me to the core.
GRETA: If you can do it in the form of a hashtag, then you can do it in poetry.
You can do it in song.
But you can also do it in painting and mixed media and sculpture.
WOMAN: So, you want your hips to be just above the wheel head, okay?
This is the pedal.
GRETA: There have been numerous studies over the years showing that creative expression through art is very beneficial as far as helping deal with anxiety, PTSD symptoms, depression.
Creativity can bring a lot of people joy.
It's fun using your imagination.
LINDSAY: There's something so magical to me about any art form.
LINDSAY: I got into painting over the past few years.
I, I would paint guitars.
LINDSAY: And I would like paint a guitar how that song would feel.
And it was so therapeutic, being able to just get my emotions out through color.
How would I use the paint with lace?
WOMAN: You could paint on the lace.
And then... LINDSAY: And glue it down.
GRETA: Is there any significance to using lace or... LINDSAY: Lace is like... so innocent and yet so strong.
It is so courageous to dedicate your life to something like this.
I was raped when I was 13.
And, um, it was from somebody in my church.
And so I was... terrified, and...
I couldn't tell my parents because I was terrified and thought they'd be mad.
And...I remember, um... he asked me if he could keep my panties.
And that was the moment I knew something was wrong.
And I said, "No," and ran away.
And then got on the train to go home and got off on the other side.
And my mom was there to pick me up, and I got off like everything was fine.
Everything wasn't fine.
You think that time can heal wounds like that, and a lot of times it just makes things fester and makes things worse.
And, um... [sniffles] ...that's why art is really powerful.
♪ GRETA: It lets us get that out, because sometimes it isn't easy to put into words.
LINDSAY: What are you writing?
GRETA: I'm writing the word "journey."
The whole process from assault to using it to help others has been a long journey.
And it means a lot to me that I've had the opportunity to go from the pain that I felt to trying to help people.
I was actually a sexual assault detective and had told people over and over, "It's not your fault.
It doesn't matter where you were.
You know, it doesn't matter what you were wearing."
If somebody goes into a bad neighborhood, you know, wearing a Rolex watch, that doesn't give someone the right to rob them and steal their stuff.
But I still felt, even though I knew that intellectually, because I had been a police officer, the fact that I couldn't fight him off and keep him from raping me, I felt very guilty, very ashamed, um, and do what so many victims do, you know, blame themselves.
LINDSAY: I feel that guilt so much, and sometimes I think back, "Okay, why didn't I report it?"
But I'm with you.
I was scared.
I felt like I had done something wrong.
GRETA: And that's the thing about not reporting, we can only process and do what we can do in that moment.
GRETA: And we shouldn't blame ourselves.
A woman is raped every 73 seconds in this country.
And then when you think that there are only 33% of those that are actually reported... LINDSAY: How often is this happening?
It could be many more.
LINDSAY: And that's why I'm so grateful that you are opening up really beautiful spaces, and like art classes, and, and places that survivors can come to that they know is safe, they know is okay.
So, Greta, I want to know more about the music that inspires you.
GRETA: Anything upbeat and empowering.
If the lyrics are good and the beat's good, got a good hook.
LINDSAY: Good lyric, good beat, good hook.
Greta, I knew we were gonna be fast friends.
[laughing] GRETA: I can't play a lick, but I know what I like.
LINDSAY: All right, Greta, my star guitar student.
Take that seat.
GRETA: Yes, ma'am.
LINDSAY: All right, so, I'm going to teach you today the most important guitar chord you will probably learn, C. GRETA: Okay.
LINDSAY: The, the... [plays chord] The people's chord, as they say.
GRETA: I hope the legacy of Silent No Longer is and forever will be that people care.
[laughs] GRETA: And I hope that that legacy lasts long after I'm gone.
It's so good meeting you.
LINDSAY: Greta, it was so wonderful meeting you, and I'm just so inspired by you.
How about you get a few friends together tomorrow night, and I would love to come over and play some songs for y'all.
GRETA: I can definitely do that.
GRETA: I'll see you tomorrow.
LINDSAY: All right.
See you tomorrow.
GRETA: Bye, bye-bye.
♪ Today I'm writing with my dear friend, Kristian Bush.
He produced my first album.
We've been labelmates, we've been bandmates.
He's pretty much like my older brother.
[laughs] ♪ Da no, da da no ♪ ♪ Da da da love is... ♪ That's cool.
LINDSAY: ♪ Da da da da da ♪ ♪ Ba da da da da day ♪ We came into the room today with just a bunch of... thoughts and ideas.
We knew, like, the feeling, I think, what our song wanted to feel like, but, um, we had no idea how to put all those puzzle pieces together.
KRISTIAN: If we're trying to do a thing that's going to be a mirror, if anything, the verses would kind of live in the desperation of feeling... LINDSAY: Yeah.
KRISTIAN: ...feeling unsettled.
♪ Words go ♪ Bzzz!
You're skydiving... KRISTIAN: Yeah.
LINDSAY: ...for the first time.
♪ The wonderful thing about writing with Kristian is just like anything is possible.
And we're almost like scribes.
Like, we just write it all out on a page, and then we piece it together and figure out, "Okay, what's like the best thing we could say in our chorus?"
Or, "How do we want our chorus to feel?"
LINDSAY: ♪ What makes you stronger ♪ ♪ Let... ♪ KRISTIAN: ♪ Let the words come out ♪ LINDSAY: When you suggested, "Let the words come out," as the first line of our chorus, it was just like, okay, that, that's part of telling the story.
♪ ...come out ♪ ♪ Let them make you stronger ♪ ♪ You can be a fighter ♪ One of my favorite moments in this write was writing our bridge.
The bridge, to me, is so, like, angsty.
You can feel the tension build.
And it really speaks to what Silent No Longer is about, is like connecting survivors to creativity.
And so we say like, "Use your hands, use your body, use the color."
♪ ...use the sky ♪ ♪ Feel the rhythm, feel the rain ♪ ♪ Let it run into your eyes ♪ KRISTIAN: You don't have a lot of space in a song, because you got to use like 10 lines 3 times.
I kind of look at the end of the bridge and the end of the chorus and the first line of the song.
And if you look at all those things, it should give you everything you need to know.
And, uh, and this is great because this means no one's gonna judge you.
When they're asking you to tell the truth, all you ever have to do is speak.
LINDSAY: 'Cause you know your truth.
All you ever have to do... KRISTIAN: Yeah, that's it.
LINDSAY: 'Cause you... KRISTIAN: Nailed it.
LINDSAY: Sometimes the scariest thing is, is being vulnerable about your story and things that happened to you.
And learning the power in that and getting to feel that freedom is so, so life-changing.
I really think she's gonna like it.
I really hope she's gonna like it.
♪ And let the words come out, yeah, ay ♪ ♪ All right, we just got to the venue.
The song is ready, and I cannot wait to play it for her.
I am so excited.
[cheering and applause] Greta, you've just inspired me so much over the past few days.
I just am inspired by your story, who you are, what you've dedicated your life to do.
So, um, I have a little surprise for you.
I would like to give you a present.
This is now your guitar.
I'm giving this to you.
You can play it, you can paint it, you can have fun with it.
But this is my gift to you.
[applause and cheering] And I actually have one more surprise for you.
Your story inspired me so much that, um, I actually called Kristian here today so he would write a song with me for you.
[cheering and applause] So we got here...
He lives in Atlanta.
He came here last night.
We've been writing all day, and we just finished a song for you inspired by your incredible story, and we'd like to play it for you right now.
This song is called "Let the Words Come Out."
♪ ♪ ♪ When you're at the end of the rope ♪ ♪ Tied to nothing ♪ ♪ You've given up, said your goodbyes ♪ ♪ Still missing something ♪ ♪ You don't want to be alone ♪ ♪ Can't find your way back home ♪ ♪ When there's no map or a light or a compass ♪ ♪ You'll never find your way back to what love is ♪ ♪ You can't go another day ♪ ♪ Know there's another way ♪ ♪ Let the words come out ♪ ♪ Let them make you stronger ♪ ♪ You can be a fighter ♪ ♪ You survive and be the lighter ♪ ♪ in the crowd ♪ ♪ Let them make you brave and ♪ ♪ Know that they can save you ♪ ♪ Keep you safe, it's not too late ♪ ♪ And when you feel like there's nothing left ♪ ♪ Go on and take a deep breath ♪ ♪ And let the words come out ♪ ♪ Eh, yeh-ey ♪ ♪ ♪ I know it's heavy, what you carry ♪ ♪ I can see it ♪ ♪ So I will listen to your story and your secret ♪ ♪ Know once you lay it on the ground ♪ ♪ It will never hold you down ♪ ♪ Let the words come out ♪ ♪ You can make you stronger ♪ ♪ You can be a fighter ♪ ♪ You survive and be the lighter ♪ ♪ in the crowd ♪ ♪ Let them make you brave and ♪ ♪ Know that they can save you ♪ ♪ Keep you safe, it's not too late ♪ ♪ And when you feel like there's nothing left ♪ ♪ Go on and take a deep breath ♪ ♪ And let the words come out ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ Use your hands, use your body ♪ ♪ Use the color, use the sky ♪ ♪ Let it rhythm, feel the rain ♪ ♪ Let it run into your eyes ♪ ♪ When they're asking you to tell the truth ♪ ♪ All you ever have to do ♪ ♪ Is let the words come out ♪ ♪ Let them make you stronger ♪ ♪ You can be the fighter ♪ ♪ You survive and be the lighter ♪ ♪ in the crowd ♪ ♪ Let them make you brave and ♪ ♪ Know that they can save you ♪ ♪ Keep you safe, it's not too late ♪ ♪ And when it feels like there's nothing left ♪ ♪ You won't believe how much better it gets ♪ ♪ So go on and take a deep breath ♪ ♪ And let the words come out ♪ ♪ Let the words, let the words ♪ ♪ Let the words come out ♪ ♪ Let the words, let the words ♪ ♪ Let the words ♪ ♪ Let the words come out ♪ ♪ [applause and cheering] It feels so good to be able to write a song from my heart and write a song about Greta's story and see it resonate with her.
It was one of the coolest things.
GRETA: It was amazing.
It was absolutely amazing, better than I ever could have imagined.
I'll never forget this night.
♪ [hissing] [ding dong] ♪