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Delijah’s focused on funding ‘trip of a lifetime’

It was while in middle school that Delijah Symonds first realised she had a talent for singing.

She’d always sung around the house and in the choir at school but never thought about pursuing a music career until her classmates starting praising her for her ability.

She started performing at school talent shows and “every performance made me want to do it more”.

“I loved being able to express myself through music and just being able to sing to a crowd and have them enjoy my performance was a good feeling.”

The 18-year-old is now working to raise $30,000 to help take her dream to the next level. She has earned a place with Up With People, an international organisation that brings communities together through volunteer service and music.

The $30,000 fee will fund two semesters abroad. She estimates she has raised at least a third of that, through performances, bake sales and donations and must have the total sum in place by July.

“[Sometimes I think] I’m not going to be able to go, but I just stick to it,” she said.

“My mom has played a big part in that and she tells me to stop talking like that. She has been my backbone when it comes to staying positive and I just have to remember myself how badly I want it and try to speak it into existence.”

Miss Symonds learned about the Up With People programme in 2011 after a friend took part. She decided to apply and was accepted following a Skype interview.

“Up With People isn’t just about my singing,” she said. “You stay with host families and do everything they do. When you are not with the Up With People Foundation and performing and practising and learning with them, you do what your host family is doing and take part in charity work and community activities.

“Further to that I am just looking forward to the experience. In terms of my career, I feel Up With People will help get me one step closer because every time I apply for a school they look for people with that kind of experience.”

She hopes to eventually attend a performing arts school in Canada or England, and study musical theatre and entertainment law. She is currently enrolled in an art and design programme at Bermuda College and taking music appreciation classes as well.

Her ultimate dream is to be cast in ‘The Lion King’ in New York City. She performed as Nala with local youth arts charity Makeda Trust’s 2011 production of the Broadway musical. Miss Symonds said she was blown away when she got to see the US production by “how much more advanced and amazing it was”.

“The movie has always been one of my favourites, but to be a part of the musical and be one of the characters it’s got to be the best thing ever,” she said.

She has been performing steadily for the past few years and took part in Hal Jackson’s Talented Teens pageant in 2008/9 and Bermuda’s Youth Got Talent, where she finished in the top 20.

She said: “To me it’s not about if you win or lose, but just being able to display your talent to the community is great. Still to this day when I see people they say I have a wonderful voice and just for people to recognise what I am doing is good for me.”

Miss Symonds will have the opportunity to perform as the opening act for R&B band Mint Condition at the Fairmont Southampton on February 23.

Though a “bit nervous”, she said she was excited as this will be her biggest performance to date. “We are talking about a crowd of over 1,000 people and there will be talent scouts there as well. You never know who is there watching and what other opportunities will come out of it. I just want to do the performance, give my all and show what I’ve got.”

To help Miss Symonds get one step closer to her fundraising goal, e-mail lijahuwp@hotmail.com.

Useful website: www.lijahuwp.com

Delijah Symonds is raising money to take part in the opportunity of a lifetime with Up With People, where she will travel, volunteer and also perform in communities around the US and Europe.(Photo by Akil Simmons) January 24,2013

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Published January 30, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated January 29, 2013 at 2:01 pm)

Delijah’s focused on funding ‘trip of a lifetime’

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