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Meet The Hollingsworths: The Family Behind ‘Gracie’s Corner’ On Their Process, Their Impact, And Going From 100 Followers To A Million Leave a comment


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At the sound of Graceyn Hollingsworth’s voice, my nearly 2-year-old drops everything he’s doing and comes bounding down the hallway, his feet smacking the wood floor with each unsteady step.

That’s the effect 10-year-old Graceyn has on her devoted audience. But they don’t know her by that name. To my son and millions of other children, she’s Gracie from the YouTube channel Gracie’s Corner

Launched just three years ago during the COVID-19 pandemic, the channel was a response to the lack of representation her parents, Javoris Hollingsworth and Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth, noticed in their children’s preferred programming.

“Everyone deserves to be seen or feel like they matter,” Javoris tells ESSENCE. “We felt like there was a lack of representation, especially in edutainment. And we figured, ‘Hey, let’s be proactive and create our own.’”

Their own channel now boasts 1.9 million subscribers. Their group of 100+ videos have been viewed over a billion times. HBCU marching bands have covered their songs. They’ve been cosigned by celebrities. And now, Gracie has collaborated with rapper Snoop Dogg. More on that later.

The success they currently enjoy was a steady climb. And in the beginning, Arlene admits that they didn’t know what the future would hold.

“We had about 100 subscribers and they were all family and friends,” she says. “But at that one-year mark was where we started to see momentum.”

The family attributed their success to more than just catchy beats produced by Javoris and Gracie’s cherubic voice.

“It usually starts with us trying to understand exactly what parents will find value in,” Javoris explains. “What would you like for your child to learn?” Once they’ve landed on a concept, he writes the songs and produces the beats. He specializes in spicing up the old classics, tying in various genres of Black music from all over the world, including everything from Afrobeat and Soca to Reggae and Trap. Then Graceyn jumps on the track.

That process can take a day or two. Then Arlene reviews the script to make sure it all makes sense and is on brand. Afterward, the family sends the video to an animator. The entire process of creating one video, start to finish, can take anywhere from 10 days to three weeks. All of it can be a serious commitment for a child. But it’s one Graceyn is still happy to shoulder even after three years.

Being 10, the young voice behind the channel is older than her target demographic. And it raises the question, does a preteen really enjoy singing children’s songs? For Graceyn, the answer is yes.

“I feel great,” she says about performing. “It’s just been so fun spending time with my dad, while also making the music. I’ve been enjoying this journey.”

Her mother says Graceyn’s engagement in the channel can shift and wane as she desires thanks to the beauty of animation.

“There hasn’t been tons of pressure for her,” Arlene explains. “When we talk about the animated series with longevity, the people who do the voices aren’t necessarily the same people. She’s a child. She’s 10 years old now, but we’ve told her several times, ‘Honey, if this is not what you want to do, you don’t have to.’”

Another child or adult voice actor could step in and lead the videos. But Graceyn isn’t ready to hand over the reins just yet.

“She’s like, ‘This is mine. I’m Gracie,’” Arlene adds. “She’ll get really territorial. I think it’s because it’s something she loves. I know she’s getting older, she can’t always have this young, small voice. But right now, while she does, it’s fun and she enjoys it.”

And collaborations with rap legends help to sweeten the deal. The partnership between Gracie’s Corner and Snoop Dogg’s 3D animated series Doggyland came when the managers from both camps connected.

“We had a chance to speak to their team and we vibed really well,” Javoris says. “I love what those guys are doing and it really aligned with what we’re trying to do. So we figured this would be the ultimate collaboration, especially considering it’s such an icon like Snoop.”

While the rapper has the bigger household name, his home has been touched by Gracie too.

“He was even saying that his grandchildren enjoys Gracie’s Corner,” says Javoris.

With Snoop’s hectic schedule, the family didn’t get a chance to actually meet in person but after some back and forth, the song came together.

“They sent us the words and they even made it very detailed,” Graceyn explains. “At first, my dad didn’t know what to do. We started singing and then we gave it back to them. [They said], I think something’s wrong with this part. So I redid it and sent it back to them and then he did his part and we sent it back to them and they finally said yes.”

The result, “Girl Power,” is an anthem for Gracie’s core followers and Snoop’s youngest fans.

Article continues after video.

In the future, the Hollingsworths certainly see more collaborations happening, in addition to live events and longer episodic videos for their YouTube channel.

But with all that they’ve accomplished up to this point and all they will achieve in the future, the family is still most encouraged by the way their work has affected families around the world.

“For me, what kind of touches me the most are the messages from parents that say, ‘My child wasn’t talking and now they’re verbal.’ ‘My child can count to this number’ or ‘My baby is saying the word quintessential.’ You have this idea and you create something but you never understand the impact that it can have on someone,” Javoris says.

The way Gracie has sung her way into our living rooms, our babies’ hearts and even onto a couple of adult playlists, there’s no telling how widespread of an impact she will have soon enough.


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