DECATUR — At 15 years old, Aria Brown has already grasped an understanding of the human spirit and its intertwining with others.
The Eisenhower High School freshman bares her soul in cover songs she has recorded and others she has created. The music can be heard and seen on her YouTube channel. Her most recent contributions are devoted to Black History Month, including her cover of "Silence" by Marshmello and “Listen” by Beyoncé.
Aria studies various genres of music. Aria said she is attracted to songs that aren't always part of her culture, but she works to make them her own.
“That was really important for me to bring it out for this month,” she said about her productions during February. “Black History is a very important thing for America and the world.”
Music is a relatable artform for the high school student. For a song to be recorded by her, it is often filled with a message she finds important.
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“Or speaking out to say things that people are uncomfortable in saying, that isn’t right or needs to be fixed in the world,” Aria said.
Aria’s versions of cover songs will sound different than the originals. Along with the music, the vocals will be adjusted to her own style.
“I don’t like doing one thing with my voice,” she said.
Variety and creativity have been instilled in the teenager since she was a child singing along with her family.
Her mom, Natasha “Breezy” Brown, 37, bought her a studio to support Aria’s talent. Along with a microphone and computer equipment, a keyboard was important to the music.
“She taught herself how to play,” Brown said. “She even wrote her own songs.”
The voice and music heard on the videos are all created by Aria. “She does all of the background vocals herself,” her mother said. “She taught herself how to edit her videos as well.”
As a parent, Brown encourages her children, including Aria’s 17-year-old sister Harmony, to follow their dreams. “And see them all the way to the end,” she said. “Whatever you decide to do in life, you need to have passion, you need to have patience and you need to have persistence.”
Brown leads by example. She recently returned to school to earn her master’s degree in business administration. “My drive makes their drive go that much harder,” she said.
The family works together musically by singing in harmony throughout their home. Their father, Raymond, performs positive Christian rap music. “We are all musically inclined,” Brown said.
According to her mother, Aria’s expectations for herself are high.
“She’s a self-driven, self-motivating, self-therapeutic type of person,” Brown said. “She doesn’t rely on anybody else to be happy.”
Cheerleading coach Amanda Seider has seen the compassionate side in Aria. “I have one word. Amazing,” Seider said. “She is so sweet, kind, supportive of her teammates, a hard worker, fast learner, smart, like I said, amazing.”
Aria has a way of helping her teammates and leading them, “without even realizing she is doing so,” Seider said. “And that is a testament to a real leader.”
Seider isn’t surprised by her student’s musical projects. “She is speaking volumes, and inspiring people with her message,” she said.
Aria is one of Adam Carlisle’s most engaging students, he said. “For me to have even learned about what she is currently doing, speaks volumes about her confidence and pride in her work,” he said. “Anyone that takes a few minutes to see what she is doing, can clearly tell the level of talent in her.”
The Decatur Public Schools’ remote learning format has been challenging for the teachers to get to know their students. During class time, Carlisle asks students how they are doing and what new and exciting things are taking place in their lives.
“From those little interactions at the beginning of class periods she opened up about this project and her passion in it,” Carlisle said. “I can see how excited she is about it and what she plans on doing with it over these next weeks.”
Aria has been recording music and Youtube videos for nearly two years. Singing is only a part of the active teen’s life. Aria is also involved in volleyball, cheerleading and hopes to join the track team.
Although Black History Month is coming to an end for this year, Aria plans to continue recording socially conscious music in March with songs relating to National Women's History Month, such as BEBE Rexha's “You Can’t Stop the Girl.”
“I am big on women’s rights,” she said. “I just want to sing songs that are empowering, that are helpful for women who feel powerless or feel like they are worth less than a male.”
29 celebrities with Decatur ties
29 celebrities with Decatur ties
29 celebrities from Decatur
Gary Forrester, a New Zealand-Australia based musician, composer and poet who was profiled as one of the major figures in the Australian music scene during the 1980s and 1990s, was born in Decatur and grew up in the Effingham, Quincy and Tuscola areas.
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Jenny Lou Carson
Jenny Lou Carson, originally known as Lucille Overstake of the Three Little Maids, was born and raised in Decatur. She went on to write "You Two-Time Me One Time Too Often," which was the first top country hit written by a woman. She was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Association Hall of Fame in 1971.
June Christy, an American singer hailed as "one of the finest and most neglected singers of her time," was known for her work in the cool jazz genre. She was born in Springfield in 1925 and moved with her family to Decatur when she was 3.
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Brian Culbertson, an American contemporary jazz/R&B/funk musician, has written and produced over 25 No. 1 contemporary smooth singles on the R&R, Gavin and Billboard Radio charts. He was born and raised in Decatur.
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Howard Warren Buffett
A graduate from Mount Zion High School, Howard Warren Buffett currently is a faculty member at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and was previously a policy adviser in the Executive Office of the President of the United States under President Barack Obama.
Steve Hunter, born and raised in Decatur, is an American guitarist best known for his collaborations with Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Bette Midler and Meat Loaf.
Richard Peck is an American novelist who was awarded the Newbery Medal in 2001 for his novel "A Year Down Yonder".
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Icon for Hire
Icon for Hire, formed in 2007 in Decatur, is an American rock band that has had two Billboard-charting albums.
CeCe Frey is a pop singer from Mount Zion who finished sixth place on seasontwo of "The X-Factor."
Charles Earl Boles
Known as Black Bart, this English-born outlaw lived in Decatur during the 1860s before becoming one of the most notorious stagecoach robbers to operate in and around Northern California and Southern Oregon in the 1870s and 1880s.
Homer 'Boots' Randolph
Best known for his 1963 saxophone hit "Yakety Sax", "Boots" Randolph played with the Dink Welch's Kopy Kats in Decatur from 1948-1954.
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Herbert Dickens Ryman
Herbert Dickens Ryman, who grew up in Decatur, was an artist and Disney Imagineer who drew the first illustrations of Walt Disney's vision of a theme park that eventually became Disneyland. His filmography includes Art Director of Fantasia and Dumbo.
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RonReaco Lee is a television and film actor best known for his roles as Tyreke Scott on "Sister, Sister" and Jamal Woodson the BET romantic comedy "Let's Stay Together." He was born in Decatur.
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David Joyner, best known for his role as Barney, was born in Decatur and graduated from MacArthur High School in 1981.
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Historian Stephen Ambrose, born in Decatur and raised in Lovington, was the best-selling author of books about Lewis and Clark and World War II.
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Howard Graham Buffett
Businessman and philanthropist Howard G. Buffett was the Corporate Vice President and Assistant to the Chairman of Archer Daniels Midland from 1992 - 1995 and is the founder of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. He currently resides in Decatur.
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Most recently known for her worked on Clint Eastwood's "Changeling," Decatur-born Kerri Randles also opened the first ever Hollywood Fringe Festival with her one-woman show "Can't you Hear Me Knockin?"
Musican-actor John Doe, born in Decatur, paved the way for alternative rock with his band X before turning to acting in movies such as "Great Balls of Fire!" and "Boogie Nights".
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Eisenhower alumni Bill "Mad Dog" Madlock, Jr. was a right-handed hitter who won four National League batting titles and is one of only three right-handed hitters to have won multiple National League batting titles since 1960.
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Freddy Krueger, the world's No. 1 professional water ski jump champion, was born and grew up in Decatur.
James W. Loewen
James Loewen, a sociologist, historian and author best known for his book, "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong," was born in Decatur and was a 1960 graduate of MacArthur High School as well as a national merit scholar.
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Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR