This month’s Student Spotlight, Mercy, is one of the most incredible, inspiring human beings we’ve ever met. Though in a wheelchair, she does everything from surfing, to choreography, to Little Miss Wheelchair pageants. She’s also participated in our Songwriting Class, our Glee program, and our Pop Star Camp, along with her private voice lessons. Her long set of interests ranges from creative writing, to singing, to astrophysics. It’s hard to imagine anyone with a better attitude than Mercy. Not only is she always up for a new challenge, but she works tirelessly and passionately on her long-term goals as well.
MM: How did you get started with singing, and how long have you been at it (not just with us)?
MH: Everyone in my family likes music a lot. My mom listens to gospel my brother plays guitar, and my big sister is into classic rock. As a kid, I sang in the children’s choir at Christmas, but it wasn’t really until I started private lessons with Molly that I started looking at singing more.
MM: How have you been sharing your songs with others? What’s your favorite performance so far and why?
MH: Singing in lessons with Molly is already a lot of work, like when we were doing “Defying Gravity.” That was one of my favorites, but there’s a lot of powerful belting I had to practice. I’ve performed with the Glee Club, too, including a Kelly Clarkson song. I did one of hers at the Pop Star Camp, too – “Stronger.” The performance was good, but my favorite part was just hanging out with the other kids, dressing up, and having the photo shoot. (Note from Molly: That’s where the photo comes from!)
I also did a musical, where the performance was to pretend it’s an audition, and I did a Hard Knock Life from Annie. That was with South Coast Rep, where I also take acting classes!
MM: Who are a few bands/artists who have inspired you, and why?
MH: I really like Lindsey Sterling. She was in a Pentatonix song, but I like her own “Shatter Me” song the most. The music video is set up with her being stuck inside a snow globe as a ballet dancer and wanting to break free. She’s a violinist, not a vocalist – I want to learn violin now because of her. I found a YouTube video of a violinist who had a sort of cast to wear on his arm, since he didn’t have his full arm, it attached and had a bow attached so he could play violin. My mom’s trying to get something similar for me so I can start taking lessons, since I don’t have full movement in one of my hands.
But, I also really am starting to like classic rock because of my sister, like Queen. And I grew up listening to Disney songs. Especially with the new movie, Cinderella, who’s my favorite princess because of her story and struggle.
There are others though. Kelly Clarkson, Idina Menzel, Amy Lee, and Avril Lavigne are some of the big ones. I’ve never actually seen Glee, but I loved Wicked, and my sister introduced me to Rent this year since I was old enough. Amy Lee just has such a beautiful voice as Evanescence, and I like the way she makes high notes still sound low.
MM: What are some of your goals?
MH: I do want to be a singer. I’ve wanted to go to Yale since 2nd grade because I heard their choir on YouTube when I was just a little kid. I’m thinking about auditioning for OCSA next month, to do musical theater there.
But I also want to study astrophysics at Yale. I like astronomy, but I read a book about it and learned astrophysics focuses on researching an individual planet, to know about its weather and atmosphere.
I’m also a writer, though I don’t have any finished stories yet. For one of the stories I had the two characters write a duet together called “A Song to Sing.” That was about a year ago, and now I’m working on that song in the songwriting class. It’s tough: If I’m doing straight creative writing I’ll listen to music to get inspired, but with writing songs I want to make sure it stays original, so I don’t do that.