Keisja Cox performs at TeenFest in Nanaimo on Saturday (Sept. 13).

Musical motivator

As a victim of bullying, singer Keisja Cox uses her voice to promote peace.

After being frequently harassed by a group of girls, singer-songwriter Keisja Cox decided she’d had enough.

“I was in Grade 7 when I had an experience with bullying,” Cox told the News Bulletin.

The constant harassment eventually drove the Comox Valley teen to take matters into her own hands.

“I went to the principal about the situation about a couple of girls that weren’t treating me very nicely,” Cox recalled. “He told me to write a song about my experience with bullying.”

At the same time, Cox, who was student at Valley View Elementary in Courtenay, enrolled in WITS (Walk Away, Ignore, Talk it Out and Seek Help), a program that teaches conflict resolution to students.

“I knew a lot about [WITS]. I knew it was there for when you got into situations with bullying,” Cox said.

It wasn’t long after she enrolled in the program that she wrote, You Can’t Change Me, which details her experience as a victim of bullying.

“I thought I would take the situation I had with bullying and the experience I had with WITS and put it into a song,” Cox said.

Cox then performed the song in front of her school and the girls who had been bullying her.

“Yeah they were there,” Cox said about the bullies.

From that moment forward, Cox was no longer being harassed by the girls and found herself spreading words of positivity to students across the province.

“It ended really well,” Cox said. “I resolved it by just talking to them.”

On Saturday (Sept. 13) the now 16-year-old singer/songwriter will be performing and judging at TeenFest, which takes place at Maffeo Sutton Park. The event also features live music from Sirreal and Trace the Sky and a presentation from author S.S. Segran.

“I am really excited about it,” Cox said about the upcoming performance in the Harbour City. “I think I did it about two years ago when it was in Victoria. I just performed and gave a speech and everything and I had a lot of fun with it. It was a cool environment and I thought it was a great idea.”

Cox’s journey into music began in 2009 when she decided to enter a contest and try her hand at singing, something she hadn’t tried before.

“I entered a contest in my hometown called Valley Idol and I thought why not go out on a limb,” she said. “I had no singing lessons before so it was really just going out on a limb.”

Despite having no prior experience, Cox won and decided she’d found her calling card.

I just found that I really liked it,” Cox said.

In 2012, Cox released her album, Take Me Away, to Highland Music Multimedia Productions, a Comox-based company that provides industry-related services for artists.

“It’s songs of mine from a 13-year-old girl’s perspective,” Cox said about Take Me Away. “Of course my sound has changed a lot over three years.”

The Mark Isfeld Secondary School student is still in the process of finding her musical identity.

“I am always writing consistently in alternative singer-songwriter vibes, but then there are times when I want to be pop or rock,” Cox explained. “But I am consistently writing in an alternative singer-songwriter style and I think that is what I am.”

Despite her age, she is no stranger to performing to large audiences. Cox has previously played at the Comox Valley Exhibition, the Sunfest Country Music Festival and the Vancouver Island Music Festival.

“That was amazing,” Cox said about performing at the Vancouver Island Music Festival earlier this year. “I’ve been going there since I was about 10 years old. I remember seeing Karly Summers and I was completely blown away and I wanted to be doing what she was doing.”

Her message of positivity has provided a result that not even Cox herself could have imagined. One of the girls who bullied the songstress is now one of her best friends.

“It’s really funny. People do change and things work out for the better,” Cox said. “It’s funny because we look back at the song and laugh about it because it was so long ago.”

Keisja Cox performs at TeenFest on Saturday (Sept. 13). The event takes place at Maffeo Sutton Park from 11:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. For information, please visit www.teenfest.ca or www.keisjacox.com. For more information about the WITS program please visit www.witsprogram.ca.

arts@nanaimobulletin.comTwitter: @npescod

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