Grand Forks native Abby Grimaldi releases ‘Dreamer’ music video, filmed at RRHS


GRAND FORKS — It took Abby Grimaldi only about an hour to write the single for her recently released music video, “Dreamer,” filmed earlier this year at Red River High School, where she graduated in 2012.

The Grand Forks native’s new single is the latest milestone in her nomadic life as the wife of Rocco Grimaldi, a former UND hockey player who, since graduating in 2015, has played with teams around the country — most recently the Nashville Predators. The “Dreamer” EP features five of Grimaldi’s recent singles.

The daughter of Perry and DeAnn Mattson of Grand Forks, she works in Nashville as a Christian pop recording artist, songwriter, performer and pianist.

Filming the music video for “Dreamer” at RRHS “was a dream come true,” she said. The video is available on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music, she said. More information on Grimaldi may be found at

“Growing up, I was a huge dreamer, and I always envisioned myself moving to a big city, pursuing music, being on a stage doing what I love, inspiring other people,” the singer-songwriter said.

When she married in 2016, she did move away, “but it also meant that I had to move a lot of different times,” she said. “And I didn’t necessarily have the chances I thought I would, to perform and to record music. I had certain limitations.”

Grimaldi also faced certain challenges with “the highs and lows of my husband’s career,” she said. “Each of these things, they kind of chipped away at the dreamer within. That innocent dreamer I used to be, felt herself becoming a little bit bitter, a little bit tired.”

She eventually realized that “even though I’ve lived a mixed life in my 20s, and I have faced some hardships, I still am that same dreamer that I was as a kid,” she said. “And that’s what inspired me to write the song. I actually cried the day I wrote it.

“I wrote it in about an hour. It was such an inspired moment, I think it was a gift from God. It was almost like connecting with who I was as a child to who I am today, and celebrating that I love that little dreamer within — she’ll always be a part of me,” she said. “Now I hope that that ‘Dreamer’ song can inspire other people who feel the same way.”

The “Dreamer” music video reflects her life here, as someone whose love of the arts was nurtured by teachers and others.

Living in other cities has deepened her appreciation for Grand Forks, which she calls “a unique place.”

She debuted “Dreamer” at the Off The Charts Festival last summer in Cavalier.

Grimaldi has also written and recorded other music, including her first EP with five original songs, including “You Are Free,” released in 2015; and a six-track holiday EP in 2016, “Christmas Time is Here,” which features an original piece, “O Holy Night (When I Believed).”

She also recorded a music single, “Faith Funk,” a Christian pop song, in April 2021; it was the first of several releases that year, she said.

Grimaldi traces her interest in Christian music to volunteer work at Cooperstown Bible Camp near Cooperstown. The camp is affiliated with the Evangelical Free Church of America, which is associated with Faith Evangelical Free Church, the church she attended in Grand Forks.

At the camp, “I had the opportunity to lead worship and make music and also be in a ministry-type role,” Grimaldi recalled. “And I feel like that was the place that I really felt compelled to pursue Christian music for the rest of my life.”

Strong Grand Forks ties

For the release of “Dreamer,” Grimaldi was determined to create a video, but moving for her husband’s hockey career made that challenging, she said. “And I really wanted to film it in Grand Forks, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it.”

Eventually, all the arrangements for filming at RRHS fell into place, she said.

“It all came together really well, probably as an answer to prayer. It was so meaningful to me that I got to tell the story of ‘Dreamer’ through video in the place where so many dreams began,” she said.

“Red River was a really huge part of my life as a musician,” Grimaldi said.

In her senior year, four of her eight classes were music classes. In her free time, she would go into a practice room to practice or write music, “because I loved it so much; I really spent a lot of hours dreaming in that high school, and I was supported by some really great teachers.”

“I’ve always been a very creative, high-energy kid,” Grimaldi said.

She started composing music on piano at age 9, and continued to work on compositions and musical arrangements in middle school. She started “formally writing music” at 16, she said. As her skills progressed, composing “was something that was really exciting for me, and it was almost like play.”

Abby Grimaldi, a 2012 RRHS graduate, recently released the single, “Dreamer,” which was accompanied by a music video filmed at Red River High School’s Performance Hall.

Photo by Jared Olson

Important influences

“I come from a long lineage of musicians in my family,” said Grimaldi, whose father enrolled her as a child in piano lessons; and “my mom sat by me every single day at the piano.”

Grand Forks’ school system offered “amazing music opportunities” to develop her skills and talent, which provided a foundation for her career, she said. Her involvement in the Grand Cities Children’s Choir, Summer Performing Arts (SPA) Company, and Northern Valley Youth Orchestras was transformative.

“My piano teacher, Joan Karner, was a huge influence,” Grimaldi remembered. And her voice instructor, Maria Williams Kennedy, offered “huge encouragement.”

Kennedy “encouraged me to be brave, because, at the time, I was still kind of shy about singing.”

Taking ballet classes at the Pasley Ballet School “was a very formative experience for me,” she added.

UND music faculty member Melanie Popejoy “was always such a positive role model to foster a love of music and to make a career out of your passion — just seeing the way that she taught with passion,” Grimaldi said. “Although I haven’t followed the teaching route, just seeing someone who creates a life around their passion for music as an adult, has always been something that’s really inspired me.”

“I am proud to be a product of my hometown community,” she said.

Becoming ‘adaptable’

Grimaldi was named Miss Grand Forks in November 2014 and second runner-up in the Miss North Dakota pageant in June 2015. She is a 2016 graduate of UND, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in vocal music education.

Since getting married in 2016, she and her husband have followed his hockey career to California, Colorado, Texas, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Illinois.

Moving frequently presents certain challenges, but it’s also been “a unique blessing,” she said. “It’s allowed me the ability to become really adaptable (and) to press into my Christian faith more than I think I ever would have otherwise.”

The experience has provided “really good inspiration” for her songs and has strengthened her marriage, she said. It’s helped them “to appreciate the small things in life.”

“When you live this kind of lifestyle, you learn to appreciate how special it was, for example, to grow up in a community like Grand Forks, where I had my (grandparents) nearby. I could see so many friends, I had a church family, I had so many different activities that I was involved in,” she said.

“And a piece of me as an adult will always miss that. But at the same time, I’ll always be so glad that that’s what I got to experience for the first 22 years of my life.”’

Abby Grimaldi is show here during the filming of the music video for her new single “Dreamer” earlier this year at Red River High School.

Photo by Nolan Johnson



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