How did you start singing?
Every summer my parents and I go to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. There is a local theater called the Jackson Hole Playhouse. I was 6 years old. I couldn’t even read yet. [My mom] would read the lines to me and I would repeat them back to her. I loved being in front of people. There’s something so special about sharing that human experience. I started playing piano at 6. When I was 9, I sang my very first professional national anthem for The Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
You’ve promoted your anti-bullying message in more than 300 schools nationwide. What was your experience with bullying?
I was teased and bullied when I was younger. That was hard for me. I didn’t understand why I was being treated that way. It just happened. As I’m going to these schools, and as I’m being exposed to more classes and grades, I realize that I just happened to be the kid who was picked on.
Tell us about the school tour.
The theme of the tour is that “nobody has the power to ruin your day.” My dad told me this on my way to school. When I did [learn to brush it off], the kids that were being mean to me, they stopped. I talk about encouragement and loving your dreams. That’s so closely tied to the message of anti-bullying.
How does it connect to your music?
The theme song is “Butterfly.” It has a message of spreading your wings and flying. We follow the life cycle of a butterfly. You start out as a cocoon and shy, and then you eventually blossom and spread your wings.
The message carries a lot of responsibility. How do you handle it?
If you want to go into this field, you have a responsibility to be someone that is looked up to – someone who really assumes that role. I want to spread my goodness around and [share] my vulnerability in my songs. That’s what’s so special to me about music. As an artist, we have a message that we want to convey. Whether it’s a message about the world, or about liking a guy. That’s what I love about music.
When you’re back in South Florida, what do you enjoy doing?
One of my favorite places is Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. [My friends and I] just like doing Florida-y things. If you live by the beach, you don’t take advantage of it as often. We go mini golfing and bowling. We’ve always wanted to go paintballing.
I don’t’ think I would be a happy person if I was not able to perform. It’s such a passion of mine – a love of mine. I’m in it for all the right reasons. There is no plan B. My goal is to impact the world – to be a name and to be somebody who is remembered.