Jillian Jensen wasnt bullied because of her looks, the singer/songwriter was bullied because of who she was.
When the Massachusetts native was in seventh grade another student asked her if she wanted drugs. Jensen refused the offer and informed the schools staff about the situation.
Shortly after the incident Jensen found herself being bullied on a regular basis. The bullying continued throughout much of her time in school. Eventually the harassment got so bad for Jensen that she switched schools and attempted suicide multiple times.
I shouldnt be alive, Jensen says. There were nights when I overdosed and I dont know how I woke up.
On June 11, Jensen released her latest single titled I Am Whole to iTunes. She says the song was inspired by her realization of how important music has been to her in her life.
The song is called I Am Whole and basically a couple months back I got the opportunity to sing with my inspiration Ed Sheeran, and that night went home and I thought about how important music has been to me in my life, she says. Music means everything to me.
I Am Whole is just one single in a series of singles that 20-year-old plans on releasing before putting out an album.
Ive been releasing all singles, she says. Theyre actually all planned for when they are going to come out. I have another one coming this year called Keep Going and another one called Breaking You.
Jensen released her debut album, Reflections, in 2007 and her second album, Green Light Go in 2008. The former Bishop Stang High School student says after releasing a series of singles she will be ready to release another album sometime next year.
I want to take my time and release something that I am proud of, Jensen says. I think it is a little bit easier and more time efficient.
On July 13, Jensen will be making her Canadian performance debut at the Opera House in Toronto as part of the Pop Explosion Tour.
I am excited, she says. I am super-stoked to finally perform in Canada.
Jensens musical journey began when she was two years old. By the time she was eight she was writing her own songs.
Growing up music was already around the house, she says. My mother is a vocal coach.
Jensen was influenced greatly by artists such as James Taylor, Alanis Morissette and Johnny Cash.
I think that those influences definitely influenced my style and the way I sing, she says. I want to be able to write songs that literally take the person and make them feel like they are not the only person that feels the way they do.
Not only has Jensen written over 100 songs but she can also play a number of instruments including the guitar, saxophone, violin, drums, ukulele and bass.
Jensen is no stranger to performing in front of large audiences. In 2010 she performed for U.S President Barrack Obama and opened for James Taylor. The following year she performed as a backup singer for former Pussy Cat Doll Nicole Scherzinger on Regis and Kelly. She has also performed the U.S. national anthem at Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and New York Mets games.
Last fall Jensen made headlines with a memorable and emotional audition on X-Factor USA. After sharing her emotional story, she performed Jessie Js song Who You Are and won the approval of the judges Simon Cowell, Britney Spears, L.A Reid and Demi Lovato.
Being on X-Factor was super cool. Ever since the first season of American Idol, I told myself if I could ever get the approval from Simon Cowell then my life will be complete, Jensen says.
Although she was eventually eliminated her X-Factor audition has over 16 million views on YouTube. She was able to bond with Demi Lovato, who has publically spoken about her experiences as a victim of bullying.
That was an amazing achievement to be able to look her (Lovato) in the eye and say thank you for doing something I am a passionate about too, Jensen says.
Since appearing on X-Factor Jensen has become a bigger role model for thousands of girls worldwide. Jensen is the facilitator of Magic of Music Scholarship Program, which provides musical scholarships to children who cannot afford music lessons. She also does speaking engagements in schools across North America about bullying.
Its a really amazing feeling, she says. Whenever I go to a different school and speak it is definitely one of those moments where I say to myself this is what made it all worth it. This is what made all the nights struggling and crying myself to sleep worth it.
Although Jensen was initially bullied for informing her school about a drug dealer in school, she says there was never one exact reason as to why she was bullied.
Its always really difficult, it wasnt just one thing in my life, Jensen says. There was never one answer why I went through it.
The bullying Jensen experienced became more intense when she decided to go public about her music career in the eighth grade.
By the time Jensen reached high school she tried to fit in as much as she could but was still bullied. Not only was she abused physically and verbal but she was also consistently harassed online.
There was a Facebook page that had this yellow rubber duck that said I bet this page could get more likes than Jill Jensen, she says.
On one of the nights she attempted suicide Jensen wrote a song called From the Outside, which she says explains her situation.
I think music has a way of expressing itself and helping others, she says. I think, truthfully, the only reason I survived was to take my experience and help others going through the same things.
I truly shouldnt be here now, she adds.
Despite appearing on X-Factor USA there have been people who have criticized Jensen about her recent weight gain. Jensen says she was bulimic at the time of her audition and has since gained 30 pounds.
I think the definition of perfect should be happiness, Jensen says. I am much happier now than I was when I was throwing up every single meal. My body is my own personal definition of perfect. I think that everyone is perfect in their own way. I think that self-worth and self-happiness is the most important aspect that you could ever pertain.
After her performance on X-Factor USA and having a private performance with Ed Sheeran, Jensen is looking forward to the summer. She will be performing in a handful of cities including Chicago, Los Angeles and Orlando.
I am actually going to be in California for two of the Pop Explosion Tour dates, Jensen says. After doing those two shows in San Diego and Los Angeles my plan is to drive back home to Massachusetts and do shows the entire way going back.
Last year Jensen was awarded Humanitarian of the Year at the 2012 Boston Music Awards. The Massachusetts singer has no shortage of advice for anyone whos going through similar experiences as her.
I am firm believer that those who bully others are only bullying them because theyre below them. I think that when someone sees something that they want in someone else, that is why they are trying to knock them down and I experienced a lot of that, Jensen says. Success will be your greatest revenge.
For more information on Jillian Jensen visit www.jillianjensen.weebly.com or follow her on Twitter: @ItsJillJensen.
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