Rylee, 10, hopes to inspire others with her song, ‘Stand Tall’
At ten, Rylee Lightbourne knows just how difficult it is to write a song.
It took her a month to complete her first song, Stand Tall.
“The hardest part was writing down the words,” she said. “Sometimes I would go blank.”
But she persevered and in June released the song as a music video on YouTube.
Her mother, Kendra Lightbourne, was her inspiration. She is constantly telling her daughter to “let her light shine”.
“She has a little motto that says, ‘Embrace your ‘flyness’; conquer your shyness,’” Rylee said. “She tells me every single day to be happy and that I am beautiful and smart.”
Some of the lyrics in Stand Tall are: “Stand tall, do it all. Keep on being brave and all. Never fall down to the ground. Turn that frown upside down. Let your pay be your game. Fly sky high, to the top. Never ever drop.”
Ms Lightbourne, a teacher at Prospect Primary School, worries about the way that social-media pressures young girls to look and act a certain way.
“I just encourage Rylee to be herself,” she said. “None of us look the same. None of us are going to be perfect. Everyone has flaws. I tell her to embrace her flaws and let her light shine. She has a lot to offer.”
Rylee takes voice, piano and drum lessons at No Limits Music School, run by Troy Washington.
“I love them all but singing is my favourite,” she said.
Her teacher, Shayla Woods, proposed a music video after Rylee sang at a school recital in 2021. Then nine, she was “really excited” and immediately got to work on Stand Tall.
“My music teacher helped me a little bit with the writing, but not a lot,” Rylee said.
Ms Woods then put music to the song. The couple then practised singing it for several weeks.
“I usually sit in on her voice lessons but they would not let me in during these practice sessions,” Ms Lightbourne said. “They wanted the song to be a surprise for everyone, including myself.”
The music video was filmed at Victoria Park and at the Arboretum.
“We did have to redo a couple of takes, but it was kind of easy,” said Rylee, who was thrilled to share it at the No Limits recital last Christmas.
“It was heart-warming,” Ms Lightbourne said. “It showed that she was listening.”
Rylee added: “I just wanted more people to see that I did a music video. I really wanted more people to see me singing.
“When the video came out, I set a goal for myself – I wanted to get 100 views. I was really excited when I reached that number but the number kept going up. Then I made the goal 150, then I made it to 200.”
Rylee’s school friends have been supportive of her efforts; one of them even played it at her birthday party, which Rylee described as both “exciting” and “a little embarrassing”.
Ms Lightbourne said her daughter had loved music “from birth”. She and her husband, Timothy Lightbourne, both play instruments.
“There was always music in the house,” she said. “That has always played a big part in our house. The kids had to pick an instrument to play and Rylee started with drums.”
When she was two, her drum set was “plastic and came with a little microphone”, which enabled her to play and sing at the same time.
Three years later, Rylee was singing in the choir at Salvation Army North Street Citadel. At eight, she began taking voice lessons with Ms Woods.
“The teacher is really impressed with her spirit and her drive,” Ms Lightbourne said.
Rylee, who has just graduated from Northlands Primary School and starts at Dellwood Middle School in September, also loves maths and science.
“When I grow up I am either going to be a Nasa scientist or a singer,” she said. “It is hard to decide which. Whenever we have career day at school I always dress up as a Nasa scientist.”
Rylee also dances with DanceSations and Anointed Steps Ministries. Her hope is that her song will encourage other people to be brave and courageous.
“Stand tall,” she said. “Don’t let anything get you down.”