Country singer Lindsay Ell has released a new single and video, “Make You,” dealing with the trauma of a rape she endured at 13 and realizations and healing that didn’t occur until many years later — topics she also addressed in a People magazine interview published Tuesday.
“I wanted to release it on Global Forgiveness Day,” Ell, 31, told the magazine. “Forgiving people in our past is a huge thing for whatever reason, but forgiving yourself is so important. There’s an incredible amount of healing that can happen, and it can’t happen until you can truly open up that forgiveness for your own heart.”
The opening lines of the song set up just how specific its lyrics will be to her circumstances: “Thirteen, staring in the mirror / You still look so innocent / But that was all gone yesterday / At eighteen, you’ll see it a little clearer / As something that was taken / Before you could give it away / And you’ll feel dirty / You’ll feel guilty / For what was done to you / There’ll be a canyon in your chest / For what you can’t undo…” The song ends on a stanza of hope: “It’s amazing where a broken heart can take you / All the things that bend and stain and break you / That’s what’s gonna make you.”
The video for the song, which has Ell sitting crosslegged and gazing directly into the camera, ends with the phone number for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.
Ell told People more about the story behind “Make You,”, which she co-wrote with acclaimed singer-songwriter Brandy Clark. (The song will also appear on her new album, “Heart Theory,” due August 14.)
“I was raped when I was 13, and it happened again when I was 21,” she told the magazine. “The song only talks about the first time. It’s just a difficult thing to talk about, and it’s something that I process every day still.” The perpetrator in the first instance, Ell said, was a man in her church who groomed her before assaulting her.
“Part of me talking about it now is liberating the little 13-year-old Lindsay and the 21-year-old Lindsay. “Pain is something we can let control us if we don’t deal with it, but the minute you put a voice to your story the shame has no power. … I felt so alone for so long, like ‘This only happened to me.’ But it’s not true. If I would’ve known that when I was 13, I would have felt such a deep feeling of relief.”
The title of her new song also figures into the name of the Make You Movement, which she is starting up under the auspices of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to support survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse and assist at-risk youth. Proceeds from the single are being earmarked for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) through the Make You Movement.
Ell has previously released two other songs in advance of her upcoming album, “I Don’t Love You” and “Want Me Back,” the latter of which goes out for country radio adds on July 13.
The singer is currently up for new female vocalist of the year and vocal event of the year at the postponed ACM Awards, delayed from April and now set for September. The vocal event nomination is for “What Happens in a Small Town,” a duet with Brantley Gilbert that went to No. 1 at country radio.