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How can Canton honor ‘Voice’ phenom Grace West? Here are 4 ideas

 How can Canton honor ‘Voice’ phenom Grace West? Here are 4 ideas

Grace West performing on “The Voice”. PHOTO: Tyler Golden/NBC

It’s not every day — or decade, for that matter — that a resident from a community the size of Canton can make everybody drop what they’re doing and huddle around their TV, riveted by what’s unfolding on the screen.

Allison Schmitt created a massive buzz during her multiple appearances in the Summer Olympics beginning in 2008, the year she graduated from Canton High School.

Allison had us all captivated by her world-class swimming talent — igniting an indescribable level of community pride throughout the township and beyond.

Thanks, Grace!

The community-pride producer these days is 19-year-old Grace (Rembinski) West, the 2021 graduate of Plymouth High School who has skyrocketed to national fame on NBC’s “The Voice”.

For 10-minute bursts the past few weeks, Grace — whose talent has propelled her to Monday’s Final 5 performers (out of the original 40) on a show that literally millions of performers yearn to perform on — has diverted our attention from the grind of everyday life and created a kind of magical escape.

Your recyclables weren’t picked up by GFL Monday night? Put your worries in the yard-waste bin for now because, hey, Grace is coming on.

Electric vibe

If you’re like me, a surge of good-vibe chills surged through your nervous system when Grace explained in pre-performance interviews that her hometown is Canton, Michigan — before taking the stage and wowing superstar “coaches” with her singing and guitar-playing skills.

Grace West has been wowing crowds since she was in middle school
Grace West has been wowing crowds since she was in middle school

We all need something to look forward to these days — and someone who we can root for and relate to, even if it’s only because that someone attended the same schools our kids attended, shopped at the same Kohl’s we shopped at, or lived in the same neighborhood.

I’m not sure Grace realizes it yet, but she’s uniting a community like no one since Allison Schmitt.

Heck, she’s forging a “She’s one of us!” bond throughout metro Detroit and the entire state of Michigan.

Favored to win it all

“The Voice” live finals won’t happen until Monday night beginning at 8 p.m. on NBC, so we don’t know what’s in store for our hometown hero.

On the bright side, DraftKings.com has listed Grace as the favorite to win it all (+200 with a 33% chance to win) — slightly better than her Team Blake teammate NOIVAS (+250, 28.6% chance to win).

Even if she doesn’t win, Grace needs to be celebrated by Canton Township, much the same way Allison Schmitt was in 2016 when she was the focus of a huge welcome-home gathering at Heritage Park.

Among the cool-yet-subtle honors Canton provided Allison was renaming the first lane at the Summit on the Park swimming pool “Allison Schmitt Lane”.

Genius idea, in my opinion.

Here are a few ideas I had regarding how Canton could show its appreciation for Grace, someone who has put the township on the country’s entertainment map.

A well-placed sign

Let's replace the rusty sculpture at the intersection of Canton Center and Ford roads with a Welcome to Canton: Hometown of Grace Rembinski West sign.
Lets replace the rusty sculpture at the intersection of Canton Center and Ford roads with a Welcome to Canton Hometown of Grace Rembinski West sign

One of the first significant structures visitors to Canton see when they’re traveling on Ford Road from the west is the rusted “Community Arch”, which dominates the intersection of Ford Road and Canton Center Road.

I’d like to see that replaced by a vibrant sign — as big as ordinances will allow — stating: WELCOME TO CANTON: HOMETOWN OF GRACE (REMBINSKI) WEST!

If an image of Grace playing her guitar could be etched on the sign, all the better.

Amphitheater dedication

As the centerpiece for musical entertainment in the township, the Heritage Park Amphitheater could be a perfect Canton destination to be named in honor of Grace.

The Grace West Amphitheater has a nice ring to it
The Grace West Amphitheater has a nice ring to it

I’m sure there would be some red tape to work through, but what better site to bear the name of a hometown musician who is on the verge of making a huge splash in the world of entertainment.

Renaming of a street or roadway

Initially, I was thinking renaming Canton’s stretch of Ford Road “Grace West Way”, but given the roadway’s history for traffic chaos and tendency for igniting less-than-graceful language from frustrated drivers, this is probably out of the question.

The unnamed road leading to Plymouth High School.
The unnamed road leading to Plymouth High School

Plan B: Let’s rename the road off of Beck Road that leads to Plymouth High School “Grace West Boulevard”.

When they pull into school every morning, students would be reminded that a teenager just like them made some incredible dreams become reality.

Dedicating a park to Grace

This is probably an idea a homeowners’ association would have to approve, but there is a tranquil little neighborhood park — Pickwick Park — a short walk from where Grace lived most of her formative years in Canton.

Pickwick Park, located just a short walk from Grace Wests childhood home.
Pickwick Park located just a short walk from Grace Wests childhood home

Wouldn’t it be fitting to rename it Grace West Park and mount a sign that encourages neighbors to bring their guitar to the property and fill the air with beautiful music, much like the neighborhood’s former resident?

Let me know what you think of these ideas by sending me an email at edwright@socialhousenews.com, and I’ll share the feedback — or other ideas residents may have to honor Grace — in a future article.

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Ed Wright

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