Seventeen-year-old Saphire Brown began singing to the public at the age of six at the Glenderado Evangelical Country Church. Her paternal grandfathers both played guitar and Saphire was fascinated; she wanted to be just like them. That Christmas she was given a guitar, but it wasn’t until age 16 that she learned to play it. Self-taught, the young artist loves the impact she is able to have on an audience. As for her songwriting, that began in first grade when she wrote a Christian song called “Jesus Rule”.
“I have no idea how I wrote it that young, but I do remember writing it on the school bus. I made it up to teach a younger girl about God because she did not know about him at the time,” Saphire said.
Still today God plays a big part in the life of young Saphire Brown who believes, “Everything happens for a reason. God doesn’t make mistakes.”
Beautiful words from a girl who has had some trying times. Sixth grade was the first time Saphire Brown sang in front of the whole school and that’s when the bullying started. In seventh grade she switched schools, but the bullying continued. That year, Christina Aguilara became a beacon of hope and light.
“She has an amazingly powerful voice and an amazing life story to go along with it. My favorite song is “Beautiful”. It explains me and has stayed with me since seventh grade.”
In seventh grade Saphire Brown asked her music teacher if she could sing “Beautiful” at the next concert. Her teacher said yes. Before Saphire sang she looked into the audience and said, “No one should ever feel hurt or ashamed for being who they are. You are beautiful.”
By eighth grade, Saphire Brown knew she never wanted anyone to go through what she had experienced. She began Saphire’s Courage Campaign. But her bullying experience was not over. In fact, it continued to get worse. The summer before eighth grade, her family moved more than three hours north of the town Saphire Brown and her sister grew up in.
Saphire said, “I transferred schools but it (the bullying) became more harmful and hurtful as the years went on. I got pushed into lockers, rumors spread about anything and everything the bullies could think of, and I was thinking that everyone would be better off without me alive.”
Just before ninth grade, still a victim of bullying, Saphire Brown transferred schools one last time to Northome School, about 40 minutes north of Bemidji, Minn. “If I didn’t transfer, I don’t believe I would be here today,” she said.
Bullying takes its toll. Thankfully today, Saphire Brown loves her current school, the support she receives, and the path she is on.
When Saphire was 14-years-old, Krista, a friend of Saphire’s mom, worked at Plummer Elementary School as a music teacher. Krista asked the principal if Saphire could come share her story with and sing to the students. The principal agreed to the visit and Saphire Brown spoke and sang to the students, who lined up afterward for pictures and autographs.
“I realized I wanted to be a singer and inspirational speaker when I saw the reaction of the audience that first time I spoke at a school and sang. I saw hurt, pain, but also I saw a calmness of knowing that someone out there (me) has been through something that they have also. I felt an emotional connection with the audience like we all understood each other’s problems. That happens with most of the schools I speak at. It helps me to understand that they are going through rough times also. If I can do it, they can do it. If they can do it, I can do it. We are in this together. That’s what I want them to understand: they are not alone and together we can put an end to bullying. Bullying, suicide, rough life, everything – the way they looked at me while I was telling my story made me believe that they also had been through a lot. Each and every one of them.”
Saphire said that knowing God has her life under control helps her stay strong. “Everything I go through is for a reason. If I would have never gone through the things I have gone through, I would never be the singer I am today.” Saphire continued, “I choose to talk to others about my story because I want them to realize that bullying and suicide is a huge issue everywhere and I want it to end. No one’s child should have to go through what I did.”
Saphire’s advice to other singers and songwriters and students is simple: “NEVER stop. No matter how many people push you down or tell you you’re horrible; if you lose every contest you enter one summer – keep pushing on. Never stop believing in yourself. Sure, one person may not like your voice. But another will. Another person will believe you are one of a kind. Keep dreaming and NEVER give up. Whether you’re having a horrible day or you’re feeling amazing and beautiful, put your deepest darkest thoughts into your music. People will connect with you more if you do.”
For Saphire Brown this journey, and Saphire’s Courage Campaign, isn’t about becoming big and famous. It’s about changing people’s lives and making them want to keep following their own dreams. She said, “Fame is not what I thrive for. I thrive to make a difference.”
A teen who seems wise beyond her years, Saphire Brown reminds others, “Stay strong! God made you for a reason. Although I went through horrible things, I never once want to take it back and start over. I know that God picked me to go through this so I could sing and go to other schools and share my story. I don’t ever wish I could take it back, ever.”
The 17-year-old will share her story publicly 7-10 times this year through Saphire’s Courage Campaign, connecting with and encouraging young people.
She explained, “I am doing a tour with the Axeman Football League which will be a week of speaking and singing at different schools each day. And I’m also a keynote speaker at a conference at the Sanford Center (in Bemidji) in March. Things are looking pretty amazing, and I am super excited to see what next year brings.”
For more information about Saphire’s Courage Campaign and to schedule a time for her to sing and speak to your students, become a part of Saphire’s Courage Campaign against Bullying on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/193628870669968/