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BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Watch now: Decatur teen uses music to raise awareness

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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.”

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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.”


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Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR

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