Published by Winston-Salem Journal
Apr. 18, 2017
Written by Jenny Drabble
Lizzie Sider seen here with students in Chico, Calif. She will perform at an anti-bullying rally in Lewisville. (Warren Starks)
When Lizzie Sider was in elementary school, she was bullied relentlessly and came home crying almost every day.
Now a country pop star, the 18-year-old is sharing her story through music in the hopes of ending bullying for good.
“It was really hard, but ultimately it was the words of my dad telling me ‘Nobody has the power to get you down’ that got me through it,” she said. “I wanted to spread that message to others.”
The Florida-born recording artist is the founder of an anti-bullying campaign, “Nobody Has the Power to Ruin Your Day,” and has traveled to more than 350 schools around the country to spread the message.
The 18-year-old will venture to elementary schools in Yadkin County April 26 to speak about bullying before headlining an evening concert at Shallowford Square in Lewisville. The concert, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 6 p.m.
“I’m really pumped to come to North Carolina,” Sider said. “It’s been such an eye-opening experience to travel to different areas and perform and talk to the kids.” Andy Lester-Niles, principal at Vienna Elementary School, said a former colleague of his helped facilitate the concert in Lewisville, and he’s excited to see the community come together.
“My first thought was, ‘Wow, this is awesome,’” he said. “She has a great message, and I think it will be a very fun family-friendly concert.”
Sider’s anti-bullying message is parallel to the one they use at Vienna, Lester-Niles said, and as a father, her platform is one that hits home.
“One thing I really like about her is empowerment for girls and realizing phrases like ‘hit like a girl’ or ‘run like a girl’ are a positive,” Lester-Niles said. “This event really is a win-win.”
Sider performed in her first musical when she was 6 and has been singing and playing the piano ever since. About 8 years ago, she picked up guitar, which she plays in several of her songs.
A songwriter since the age of 9, Sider said she used music as an outlet for the pain of being bullied. In 2011, “Butterfly” was released as her debut single, climbing into the Top 40 on the Music Row Country Chart with more than 1 million YouTube views.
“In a way, we’re all butterflies,” she said. “No matter what we go through, we really do have those wings and colors and unique parts about us just waiting to be released that can set us free.”
The “I Love You That Much” singer has performed concerts across the country and opened for many singers, including American country group Gloriana and Australian country singer Jamie O’Neal.
Sider has sung the national anthem for teams such as the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles and has been featured on Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, The Queen Latifah Show and Fox & Friends.
She was also named one of CMA Close-Up Magazine’s “Artists To Watch” and a “Top 5 Female Country Newcomer.”
But Sider said what brings her most joy is using her passion for music to help others.
“Music is such a unique angle to attack (bullying) from,” she said. “It’s such a powerful way to connect with people, and it keeps it interactive and fun.”
In 2013, the Florida native kicked off her anti-bullying campaign with a two-month stint in California, sharing her story at more than 80 schools.
Sider created a DVD and workbook for bullying prevention — both of which are distributed for free to elementary and middle schools — that have reached more than 2 million students.
Sider said her parents have been her biggest inspiration and supported her in her journey to help mold future generations.
“My parents have taught me you can’t control what anybody else does or says, but you can control how you internalize it,” she said. “I really hope the kids come away with positivity and encouragement that they’re not alone.”