Country singer Lizzie Sider a rising star
Boca teen to perform at TurtleFest in Juno Beach on Saturday
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
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When Lizzie Sider’s parents dropped her off at drama camp when she was 6, they probably didn’t imagine they’d be dropping her off to perform at places, steadily, for the next 8 years.
And these days, sometimes they have to buy a plane ticket to get to the venue.
The 14-year-old country music prodigy has regular songwriting appointments with some of Nashville’s best writers, and she’ll be performing at the famed Bluebird Cafe — for the third time – in June, and, locally, at TurtleFest in Juno Beach Saturday.
And she’s still a freshman in high school.
“A lot of people ask me about balance, and it definitely is tricky to keep that priority list. It’s hard, but somehow I find time to do it all,” Lizzie said by phone from her home in Boca Raton.
Lizzie goes to a private school in Fort Lauderdale that was open to accommodating her schedule. “The school is excellent about making both of our schedules work together. My teachers are fabulous about giving me time to make up my work and giving me time to come and talk to them if I need help.”
Lizzie loves school now, but it wasn’t always the case. When she was in elementary school, her classmates teased her about her love of singing, calling her names and excluding her. She came home crying nearly every day, she said.
“I begged my parents to home-school me. Anything to make the hurt go away. But then one day, before I left for school, my dad told me, ‘Nobody has the power to ruin your day.’ At first I really didn’t understand what he meant by that but after a while I came to understand it, and it was a turning point for me. I found my confidence in school. It made me be more myself, and without that experience I would not be who I am today.”
What she is is a stellar songwriter. Her first EP had seven delightful songs on it, including “Butterfly,” a song inspired by her bullying experiences, which she released as a single in 2012. The song didn’t crack Billboard’s Top 40, but it did make the Music Row chart’s Top 40, which earned Lizzie a spot at June’s CMA Fest, a three-day extravaganza of concerts and meet-and-greets with country’s biggest stars.
“I’ll be surrounded by a lot of the big names in country music and people will be able to come up and meet me. I think it’s important to make that connection with fans. A lot of people tell me they relate to my songs, and songs like “Seeing is Believing.” The things I’m going through, a lot of people have that same experience. It’s very universal.” (The song, about a cheating boyfriend, may remind listeners of a certain age of the Leslie Gore classic “It’s My Party,” from 1965.)
Lizzie’s music definitely connects with her peers, but it’s also polished and refined in a way that usually takes years to master. And even though she loves school, Lizzie would probably spend all her time songwriting if her parents, Don and Carole Sider, would let her.
“I love the songwriting process. I write most of my songs from personal experiences, and it’s a way for me to pour my heart out onto a sheet of paper or into a word document,” she says, laughing. “Songwriting is a way of expressing myself in a way that words alone can’t. It’s the coolest feeling and it’s the coolest accomplishment. I love writing a new song and thinking back on what made me write it in the first place. Like, ‘I Saw Him First.’ ”
The song is an adorable snapshot of what happens when two teenage girls like the same boy. Her songs are mature in composition and yet youthful in subject matter. She’s written with Liz Rose, Taylor Swift’s collaborator on her first album, and people like to make comparisons.
“It’s a little bit harder for me because people want to compare me to her right off the bat. But what I really thank her for is that she paved a whole new way for young female artists who have that country-pop kind of feel and want a career at a young age.”
Singer/songwriter Jamie O’Neal (“There is No Arizona”) also has taken the teen under her wing.
“She’s such an inspiration to me. What I love about co-writing with lots of songwriters is, every single time I go into a songwriting session I learn something new. I learn different styles of writing and I learn different ways to say certain ideas, and it just helps me grow as a songwriter.”
And Lizzie is literally growing every day.
“I have a brand new single that came out a couple of days ago, called ‘I Love You That Much.’ I just finished recording a brand new album with 13 songs on it. I recorded the music with Jason Aldean’s band, and that was a blast, getting to meet them,” Lizzie said. The album was produced by Joe Vulpis, who produced Lady Gaga’s first album.
Because she’s young and easy to talk to, Lizzie says industry pros are always offering her advice.
“I think one of the main pieces of advice I hear over and over is never lose sight of who you are. No matter who might try to change you, or try to form you into someone you’re not, stay true to yourself.
“My parents have said never stop believing in yourself. And I’m only 14, but I know you can never stop dreaming. Never stop chasing your dreams. It’s never too late.”
IF YOU GO
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Sider performs at 12:15 p.m.
Where: Loggerhead MarineLife Center in Loggerhead Park, 14200 U.S. 1, Juno Beach.
Info: 561-627-8280; www.marinelife.org
To hear Lizzie Sider’s song Butterfly, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJuu1hKo-u8