By Mags McGagh
Seventeen-year-old Megan-Louise has had her musical talents compared to Taylor Swift.
Taylor Swift said of the people who bullied her “If they don’t like you for being yourself, be yourself even more.”
This is, of course, often easier said than done.
Megan Taylor, and her father Chris, recently spoke to the Irish World about her traumatic experiences at the hands of bullies and how she turned her music and talent into a positive way of helping other youngsters.
Chris told us that, as a little girl, Megan tried out many of the activities that all children do, like gymnastics and dancing before declaring she would like to learn to play the guitar: “I thought here we go again, another money pit. Eventually we gave in and bought her a cheap guitar. Little did we know that she had found her thing.”
Megan ceaselessly watched YouTube videos and taught herself to play. One Christmas Megan was taking part in her school’s Christmas production and a teacher heard Megan sing one of her own songs and asked her to perform it with the school choir backing her.
“It was just wonderful,” said her proud father. “Some friends of mine ran open mic nights at local venues and Megan was keen to perform at them. As she was only eleven, she would go in at the start of the night do her two songs and we would head off home. It all started to grow from there and she was asked to many different events. Even though she was so young she was more than capable of holding her own when she performed.
“By the time she was thirteen she was writing her own songs.
“This was during the time she was getting badly bullied. She wasn’t going out like other youngsters as a result of this. Writing songs was her only way of expressing her emotions.
“(But) the open mic events gave her confidence singing and performing. She began playing at places like Joe McAdam’s Whiskey in the Jar.
“He had seen her at those open mic nights and has been a wonderful supporter of her music. This in turn lead her to performing on radio shows. She has also been a contestant on the BBC show The Voice Kids” but didn’t get through. It was a great experience presenter Emma Willis asked her why she thought they had not turned for her and she replied: ‘I don’t think they are quite ready for country music yet’. That was quite insightful for a fourteen-year-old. She has been a regular at the Monday Night Club at Liverpool’s Cavern Club which is run by Ian Prowse, a massive supporter of her music. All artists must perform their own compositions, no covers”.
Megan told us about how she has turned her bad experience into a positive: “I suppose, looking back, I was an easy target for the bullies. I was small, wore glasses, was an only child, and a bit of a geek really. They would hurt me, break my glasses and by the time I was in Year Two it had become so bad I had to move schools.
“I moved on to an all-girls school. Unfortunately, it started there too. This time it wasn’t physical, it was more of an emotional form of bullying. I was left out, isolated and generally made to feel unwanted.
“I look back and try and figure out what it was. Was it that I was joining a class which already had strong friendship bonds? I still don’t know. Also, leaving a former school where I had been bullied, I had gone there with no confidence and low self-esteem and again I was an easy target. It continued at high school but in a different form, cyber bullying.
“I began to get death threats, calls at 3am telling me to drink bleach and die, or someone telling me that they were going to bring a knife into school the next day to stab me. It was horrendous.
“At that time, I was starting out with my music and getting lots of attention through that. When I think back it was probably jealousy on the girl’s part. I made the best decision of my life and moved to a performing arts school called The Hammond.
“I met lots of likeminded people and made some wonderful friendships. I discovered that they, too, had gone though similar experiences. I suppose a young girl singing and writing country music would seem strange to some other kids.
“I now feel that I actually know me. When you are being bullied you never stop to think about who you are. You are in a constant fight just to survive each day. The one thing that got me through was my music.
“After all my experiences of being bullied I can empathise with others and would like to spread the message on how I came through it.
“A lot of people think that it is mainly a problem that affects high schools, but it starts much earlier on, in primary school.
“As I had written lots of songs about bullying, and thought I would like to use them to help other kids who may find themselves in a similar situation. I visit schools to do workshops.
“If there had been something like that when I was growing up, I wouldn’t have felt so alone, I would have had someone to relate to. Teachers are great, but if a child has someone who is closer in age and who has been through similar experiences, I think it would be a great support to them, I know that would have helped me.
“I am doing my A-Levels this year so don’t have as much time to devote to the workshops as I would like, but after my exams in the summer, I can concentrate on doing more.
“If I can make one child feel less alone, then it is a job well done. Country music helped me get through my darkest times.
“The music is about storytelling, it was a brilliant way to get my feelings out and tell my story. The workshops are also a wonderful way of introducing children to country music while doing something worthwhile. I’m really looking forward to finishing my studies this summer.
“I am still song writing and I have recently been uploading them to my Instagram page to canvas people’s opinions on them.
“It’s a great way of finding out what people like. I have lots of exciting things coming up this year, tours, festivals, new music and of course the workshops.”
For more information, go to http://www.meganlouise.co.uk/