How do you express your emotions? Do you go for a run? Paint? How about writing a song?
At the age of eight, Aaliyah Baez experienced a life-changing event – she lost her father. Songwriting has since become a creative outlet for her to express her feelings.
“Writing a song about my father and sharing it made me feel better,” said Aaliyah, now 14. She wrote “Daddy’s Little Girl” as a way to cope with the hardship of becoming a teenager without a father.
To me, you’re the greatest dad in the whole wide world.
Daddy, it’s just not fair,
That you have to watch my life go by up there.
I’m always going to be Daddy’s little girl.
Don’t worry, one day I’ll be next to you,
Looking down on the world.
“I remember I wrote half of a song and sang it to [my Music Will teacher] Mr. Flora. He said I have a gift and that I should never give up,” she said. “It was a poem before, but it started to get boring when I said it with no emotion. I wanted to put more feeling in it. I wanted a melody to make it even more special.”
Aaliyah built up her confidence and asked her classmates to help turn her poem into a song. “Songwriting makes me feel powerful,” she said. “I couldn’t wait to touch everyone’s hearts.”
“I felt touched because I’ve also been separated from my father,” Ellesia, 13, said. “It has impacted me emotionally. I wanted to help out because I believe a lot of daughters without their fathers feel the same way as Aaliyah.”
Her classmates, many of whom she plays with in a band, helped her channel her emotions into a melody, rhythm and structure, effectively turning her poem into a full-fledged song.
“Music Will influenced my life by telling me not to give up, to keep going and to live my life doing what I love to do.”
A few months later, Aaliyah was asked to perform at Music Will’s 10th anniversary gala at the Hammerstein Ballroom, where she’d be performing for over 1,000 people on the same stage as Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt Elvis Costello, Tom Morello, Darlene Love, and many others.
As she belted out her emotional opus, E Street Band saxophone player and Music Will honorary board member Jake Clemons came out of the shadows and laid down an incredible sax solo.
Students like Aaliyah are evidence why music education matters in a child’s life – because it gives them something at which to excel. It gives them the tools to create an artistic expression of their inner most feelings, and the confidence to collaborate with others.
Music Will is the only national music program in the U.S. public schools that encourages song composition. Your gift helps students like Aaliyah express their emotions in a safe, creative way that will strengthen their character, and give them a reason to feel proud.