Amanda Grace, of Winona, writes and performs music in multiple genres — acoustic rock, soul, children's music and Christian music.

When she isn't writing and singing songs, she still spends her time writing and speaking — each spring, she speaks at young writers conferences throughout Minnesota and will be teaching this spring for the Rochester Young Writers Conference, May 19-21.

Also, she teaches a songwriting class and spent about two years doing sheet music for her kids' CD with hopes that more educators bring it into more schools and libraries because it's happy-go-lucky music for toddlers and elementary-aged kids.

Grace's career in music began after graduating from Winona State University, where she earned a degree in communication studies and music.

"Right after school was when I really began to go after music," she said. "It took me a while, like most performers, to really figure out what I was going to do and what my goals were, what I wanted to write about and where I wanted to go with my music.

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"I'd been writing songs since I was a little girl," she said. "That was how I expressed myself, so writing itself is not new to me, but producing music and turning it all into something I want to do as a career is still relatively new to me."

Asked to describe her music, Grace laughed and said it's hard because of its variety.

"My first CD, 'Trains, Cars & a Trip to Mars,' is for kids and in memory of my nephew Bryce, who was actually treated at Mayo Clinic," she said. "Bryce's song on that album is called 'Rainbow Skies' and was inspired by the stained glass rainbow-themed window at the children's hospital in Rochester."

Grace's cover of "You are my Sunshine" on that album was featured in Parents Magazine in 2010.

Her second CD, "Embrace," released in 2012, is a more alternative album with acoustic rock/adult contemporary sounds. In June, she released her third CD, an EP titled "Keeping Hearts." It contains six new acoustic rock songs.

To promote her latest release, Grace had a blur of shows through the summer. You can see her performing live tonight at 9 at Wicked Moose.

For more details, check out her website:

Service matters

Congratulations to Darrin, of Dodge Center, who works five days a week at Walmart South in Rochester. Last week, Darrin was spotted by a secret shopper who was very impressed with Darrin and his kindness to customers.

Because of that, Darrin was given the "Service Always Matters" award. Darrin is a client with Opportunity Services, a nonprofit that helps disabled adults find employment. He is the second client to receive the award, said Hannah Weiss,an Opportunity Services spokeswoman.

If you see Darrin, be sure to tell him congratulations!