by: Pedro Heizer, The Boca Raton Tribune
When Lizzie Sider first stepped foot into the Jackson Hole Playhouse at the age of 5 to see her first-ever play, her whole life changed.
“I fell in love with everything going on on the stage,” says the 17-year-old music star from Boca Raton. “I knew that’s what I wanted to do; I wanted to be the person that interacted with the audience like that.”
At the age of six, Sider returned to the Jackson Hole Playhouse in Wyoming, this time however, for a Children’s Theater Camp. “They would teach you the basics of theater,” Sider recalls. “I attribute my love for performing to that playhouse, for sure.”
“My parents and I sat down and said ‘we have a pretty good voice here, let’s see where this can take us,’” explained Sider. However, it was after her first trip to Nashville, at the age of 13, that “everything changed”.
Sider connected with some of the heavy-hitters of the country music world and began to talk to the about possible songs.
In the summer of 2011, Sider wrote her debut single “Butterfly”, where she collaborated with hitmaker, Jamie O’Neal.
The song has a deep personal meaning to Sider, as she was the target of bullying from kindergarten until the 4th grade. “I was a normal kid,” explains Sider. “I was always happy, and nice to everyone. I don’t think I’ll ever know why I was the target of it.”
“I wrote the song ‘Butterfly’ based on my personal experience,” continued Sider.
Sider went back to that tough place and chose to create art with it. Sider remembers how the other kids would excluded her but then they would ask her to sing for them, just to run away laughing before could complete the first verse. ” It really made me feel down, and I would come home crying almost every day. I begged my parents to homeschool me, to get me out of that situation. Then, one day, before I left for school, my dad told me that nobody has the power to ruin my day,” Sider continued. She explained how she really didn’t understand what her dad was telling her but with time she grew to understand and take to heart what her father told her that day.
“Nobody can take away my self-confidence or make me feel bad. I found the strength in myself to overcome the teasing, and I felt like a ‘Butterfly.’ That’s where that comes from,” Sider explained.
The success of “Butterfly” and other tracks on her EP have led Sider to expand an already growing slate of live performances. She has opened for Jamie O’Neal, Aaron Tippin and Gloriana. Sider has also been a featured performer at the Ocala, FL and Inverness, FL Rodeos.
She has played at writer’s nights at Nashville venues such as Hotel Indigo, The Listening Room, The Red Rooster, and Rooster’s BBQ, and has been a featured artist at the Commodore Lounge. Sider performed multiple times at the famed Bluebird Café and played at Teddy Gentry’s (Alabama) 2013 birthday party in Nashville.
Due to the success she has achieved thus far in her young career, Sider was named to the Country Music Association’s “Who’s New To Watch In 2013″ list. She said that was a huge honor. “When I saw that, and I looked at the other artists, I was so excited. It was so hard to believe.”
Her song “Butterfly” made the Top 40 on the Music Row Country Chart, which earned her a booth in the 2013 CMA Fest, “Being a part of the CMA Fest that year was such an honor and a cool experience,” says Sider of her experiences.
In the summer of 2013, Sider began her Bully Prevention Seminar and since then she has gone to over 350 schools all over the United States and has reached over 150,000 students.
During her 30-40 minute assembly, Sider talks about her own story of being teased and bullied in elementary school, what it felt like, and how she delt with it. She talks about the importance of everyone standing up to stop bullying, and sings some of her songs, including her debut single, “Butterfly”.
Sider has said she has heard from many how the lyrics spoke to their own situation. “I want the song to inspire others who have been hurt, bullied, or teased. Hopefully, it can help them. It amazes me what the song has already done. Someone got a tattoo because of the song. I get Facebook messages where people will call me their inspiration. They will write ‘Thank you for giving me strength.’ It just means the world to me that I can do that.”
As for the immediate future, Sider plans on continuing to promote her single, and work on her album. She has recently finished recording her new DVD special where she about bullying prevention and creates a curriculum for teachers and students to follow. In December, Sider released her latest EP, Symphony, with song like “Hate To Break It To You”, and “Like a Girl”.
This year, Sider will also be returning to some of the 350 schools she visited during her assemblies and will be throwing a concert for the kids, “I’m looking forward to going back to where it all began and sharing my music with them,” says Sider. “I want to lift people up and inspire them with my music, I want to become an icon that has a very positive influence and inspires people.”