Doing it for Dolly: Rapper, country singer team up against bullies
TWO Bundaberg musicians have joined forces in the hope that bullies, wherever they are, change their tune.
Thirteen-year-old rapper Hayley Wheeler and 15-year-old country singer Ariana Brogden decided to spread a message of awareness the best way they know how - through the universal language of music.
The local teenagers met in October when they started a collaboration project with fellow Bundy musician Pete OBrien and have since recorded their first track, Those Words Can Hurt.
Having experienced bullying first-hand, the girls said the song was not only a therapeutic way to deal with their own feelings, but Hayley said she hoped it was also a means to inspire others to "speak up".
"It was really good expressing our feelings and putting it into a song and knowing that we'd both been through something was helping and might help others too," Ariana said.
"But it's not just for people who've been bullied, it's also a song for the bullies. Hopefully it opens their eyes."
At the start of the collaboration, the talented teens said they had their doubts about mixing the genres but were eagerly awaiting the release next month.
Hayley said she had been singing and rapping since a young age, looking up to superstars such as Eminem and Iggy Azalea, while Ariana's country inspiration stems from artists such as Kelsea Ballerini and Carrie Underwood.
"The song is unique because it's a cross between country and rap - it really pushes the message through," O'Brien said.
"We had the girls on our online music show and I'm in charge of C Factor so I've been watching their progress and I wanted to help them kickstart their career.
"They chose the topic themselves and the writing all happened pretty quickly - Ariana has a nice smooth country voice and Hayley's rapping is fantastic, you don't see many female rappers.
"The song is targeted at a younger age group so it's really uplifting and upbeat. What they've written is amazing."
Despite having started the writing process last year, the theme couldn't be more relevant in the wake of the shocking death of 14-year-old Amy "Dolly" Everett (pictured, above left).
Dolly's death made international headlines after her father posted about it on Facebook, saying she had taken her own life after being relentlessly bullied on social media.
The track is set to be released with a music video at the end of February.
If you or anyone you know needs support, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14. Young people aged five to 25 can phone Kids Helpline on 180055 1800.
The song will be released next month.