I’m Raphaella, a 23 year old, English-Persian singer songwriter from North London. Alongside my music career, charity and philanthropy has always been an incredibly important part of my life. I first came to know about the Kids Count Charity when performing at their annual Inspirational Awards at the House of Commons in 2012, and immediately fell in love with everything they stood for. A proudly youth led and driven charity, they strive to bring the issues of young people to the forefront of both politics and the general public, providing support for young people suffering from a wide range of issues including Gang violence, knife crime, bullying, teenage pregnancy and drink and driving amongst many others.
I shortly afterwards became an Ambassador for the charity, and instantly knew I wanted to create a campaign that was close to my heart. Being very overweight, having frizzy hair, braces, and a bonifide ‘geek’ loving english and history, I was bullied from a very young age and all throughout my school life until 6thForm, which impacted my life incredibly. For a number of years I was quiet, lonely and unconfident, affected by being on the receiving end of often subtle, sly and manipulatative bullying from my peers. I remember one specific incident when a girl turned around and suddenly said ‘I don’t want to be your friend anymore’, worried that I’d done something wrong or upset her for some reason I asked why, but she simply replied... ‘just because you’re you’. When someone says that to you, it’s the worst kind of remark, because it’s insulting and ridiculing the very core of who you are. You can change your hair, your body or your clothes, but you can’t change your personality or yourself. It made me completely question my self-worth, and lose all self-confidence… I remember some nights just coming home and crying all night in my room because I couldn’t understand what was so wrong with me that no one would like me.
But slowly, and after a little while I began to gain confidence. While all the other kids were in the playground playing or busy being bullies- I locked myself away in the school music rooms and spent my lunch breaks writing songs and honing my craft as a singer-songwriter. I found something I loved and was good at as well as it being an amazing release, being able to write down how I was feeling through music. There was a course Pineapple Performing Arts School put on with The Metropolitan Police where they took kids from schools who were being bullied, and doing the bullying and threw them into a completely new environment for a week of singing, dance and drama to see if it could combat the problems. There I found a group of people who loved and respected me for who I was, my art and my love for music. I subsequently joined the weekend school, which allowed me to grow in confidence and skill while realising my self worth. I found because I was bullied, I was then actually able to be hugely more independent because I had learnt to be alone for so long- relying only on myself – which has helped me enormously in my adult life in such a competitive industry.
Since finishing school, I graduated from a Music Degree with first class honours and top of my class, signed a Publishing Deal to the hugely respected UK indie label Phrased Differently, had over 20 international cuts with major artists worldwide, a certified Gold record, songs on a number of Top 10 albums internationally: EXO, Chenoa, Nabiha, Ivy Quainoo, etc. a contestant on ‘The Voice’ of Germany covered one of my songs ‘Price of Love in her Blind audition and I’ve sung with and supported Texas, The Rizzle Kicks, Beverly Knight, Joss Stone and Natasha Bedingfield and am about to release my second E.P in February.
I was able to overcome bullying and my past, appreciate and love myself for who I am and realise that actually all my quirks and differences are what make me ‘cool’ and beautiful. Thanks to my music I didn’t let bullying get the better of me and I want to be able to provide the same release and help to kids who are going through the same things I did and make them know that it’s not the end of their lives, they can find confidence again and they are wonderful and interesting people who are worth so so much.
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