WHEELING - Wheeling Park softball coach Dee Davis doesn't always like it when Carly Greer throws a high pitch.
It's a different story for some record producers in Nashville. They can't get enough of it.
Greer, 17, an incoming senior and all-state softball player at Wheeling Park, is also an aspiring country music singer. If you've seen her play softball, or heard her sing, you might not be able to tell which she does better. That's to say nothing about her ability to turn the surprise back on a pop quiz. She has a 4.0 GPA; she's a first seat violinist in the All-State Orchestra; and she's also active in the community, volunteering at the Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling and becoming an instrumental figure in Digging for a Cure, a volleyball-based cancer fundraiser at her high school.
Photo by Jim Elliott
Carly Greer, left, and her mother, Stacey, have written an inspirational song about cancer survival that Carly will perform at the Ohio County Relay for Life on Friday night.
She plans to continue her work to help find a cure on Friday night, when she will sing her debut single at the Ohio County Relay for Life at Wheeling Park. The song, "Because I'm in It," was written by her mother, Stacey - a breast cancer survivor. It delivers a powerful message of moving forward with life, even through some of its most devastating moments.
Registration for the relay begins at 5 p.m. Friday with an opening ceremony and Survivor's Lap at 7 p.m. at Good Lake. A Luminaria Ceremony will be held at dusk. Teams will continue walking through the night until closing ceremonies at 4:30 a.m. Saturday.
Stacey Greer has been writing songs since she was a teenager, and she's now teaming with her daughter to bring them to life. Though their dual music adventure didn't begin with "Because I'm in It," the tune is taking center stage because it's the type of song that makes you stop and take notice. Nearly everyone, at some point in their lives, has been affected in one way or another by cancer.
"If you heard this song and you were going through what (Stacey) went through, I don't think you'd think anything else than to survive," Carly said. "You don't have a choice. Like she said, 'you sink or swim.' I think that's nice for someone to hear. Because a lot of times, you're just getting thrown all of this information at you, but to finally be able to stand up and say, 'I'm going to live through this, that's what's going to happen, there's no other way this is going to work out because I'm going to survive.'"
That's just what the song is about. And it was born out of a meeting with Stacey's doctor when she was given the news of her diagnosis.
"The doctor put his hand on my shoulder" and told me, Stacey said. "It was everyday for him. When he told me what my options were, I really was mad at him. I was like, 'Don't you dare tell me and sit there with no emotion while you're telling me something that's changing my life.'"
That was more than a year ago. Stacey had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, but was always reluctant to tell her story.
A friend "called me and suggested I write a song about it," Stacey said. "And I said no. It was too close to home. I put it behind me, didn't talk about it at all.
"Every (survival) song I've heard is so depressing, even the Martina McBride song, 'I'll love you through it.' ... All of my songs are removed. I watch people, then I write. But I thought if I did, it would be a positive song," she added.
Already in Nashville as Carly was recording a few other songs under the production of Kenny Royster with Direct Image Studios, Stacey woke up the very next morning with the song in her head. She typed the words in the notepad on her iPhone as they poured out of her head.
"I must have thought about it subliminally in my sleep," Stacey said.
Carly, who had been in the studio for 12 hours a day earlier, was awakened by her mother singing the melody. And she didn't want to be.
"She started singing. I said, 'Well I guess that's good, but I'm going back to bed,'" Carly said.
By the time they flew home, the song was complete.
Through it all, Stacey thought about her place in this world.
"It was there, it just came to me," Stacey said. "I don't know. I contribute a lot to this valley. I contribute a lot to my kids, taking them places. And I thought, 'they need me.'"
That emotion comes through in the lyrics of the song:
"Surviving's going to be my only option, yea that dyin' doesn't seem to be too much fun. She looked him in the eye and said Doc, I think it's do or die. There's a lot to take in so just sit there for a minute. But this world's a better place because I'm in it."
The next time the Greers went to Nashville, they recorded the song with some world-class studio musicians sitting in behind Carly.
They are the same studio musicians who work with the likes of Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift.
The song is one of seven the duo has written and recorded, with the hope that, because they write their own songs, Nashville will eventually find a place for them.
"As far as it will take me," Carly said of her singing aspirations. ''It's kind of hard with softball, everything is starting to happen. And with this, I'm being pulled in completely opposite directions. But I like it, it's a really good experience."
Carly has had no singing lessons, but she knows how to bring a song to life. She gets the inspiration from her mother, who knows how to bring life to life.
Copies of the single will be sold at the Relay for Life event, with all proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.
Carly said she won't cry when she performs the song Friday.
"I'll be mentally crying," she said.