Sarah K finds her voice with the Soul Collective

North Vancouver r&b singer performing at Amanda Todd Legacy fundraising concert

Amanda Todd Legacy fundraising concert at the Calabash Bistro (428 Carrall St., Vancouver), Thursday, June 13 at 9 p.m. Tickets $10.

For more information visit amandatoddlegacy.org.

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For r&b singer Sarah K bullying was a part of her life as a teenager.

I am definitely very passionate on the subject because it something that I have always struggled with growing up, she says.

The 26-year-old says that when she was growing up she was often criticized because of her aspirations.

Kids would tell me that I would never become a successful singer and that I was no goo. Even though they had never even heard me sing. Being told this time and time again made me angry and frustrated.

Instead of letting the negativity bring her down, Sarah K used it as motivation. The North Vancouverite has since gone on to perform at various venues around the Lower Mainland.

On June 13, Sarah K and her band the Soul Collective, will be performing at the Amanda Todd Legacy Fundraiser Concert with 2013 Juno nominee Elaine LilBit Shepherd and MC Static.

The show completes a two-part concert series with all of the proceeds going to the Amanda Todd Legacy Memorial Fund.

I know that a lot of kids are suffering in regards to bullying. I think its important that we raise awareness about these issues, she says. I know I went through it and sometimes it is hard to bring it up, especially when you are being judged.

The North Vancouver-native began writing music when she was 13-years-old. Her first live performance came two-years later at Capilano University.

Sarah K says since taking the stage as a teenager her vocal ability has improved significantly.

Ive found my voice, she says. I am much more confident on stage, and because of that I am able to connect with my audience.

The Argyle secondary graduate has been influenced by artists such as Alicia Keys, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Lauren Hill and Joss Stone.

Mariah Carey talks about overcoming obstacles in life so she definitely inspired me to write songs, Sarah K says. I love the sound of Lauren Hill as well . . . I like to write about everything, and things that people go through every day.

Last year her career got a big boost when Chris Steffler of Mercury Management and Element-80 Records signed her.

He (Steffler) helped me get my foot in the door, she says. I needed professional guidance and he was able to provide that.

In July Sarah K will be releasing her debut album, All My Life.

I started recording the album three years ago, she says. I would say each song was a different experiment. Ive evolved in those three years and you will notice that.

One of the songs on the album Fly shares her experiences of being bullied and aims to inspire listeners.

Its a song that I wrote about going through situations where people dont want to see you succeed, Sarah K says. Its about believing in yourself.

She plans on donating all the royalties from the song to the Amanda Todds Legacy Fund and the CKNW Orphans Fund.

The fundraiser is not the first time Sarah K has used her musical talents in a philanthropic way. In 2010 she headlined Cops for Cancer at The Cellar nightclub. That same year she participated in the Miss BC Pageant which raised money for the Cops for Cancer charity.

According to Sarah K, her most memorable performance came earlier this year when she was invited to perform at the Sage Awards, an event that celebrates the accomplishments of Vancouvers community leaders.

Evander Holyfield was the special guest speaker, as part of his cross Canada anti-bullying tour. Carol Todd, Amanda Todds mother, was the other guest of honour, she says. I was invited to sing my anti-bullying song Fly, as it was the theme of the evening. I remember people being touched by the lyrics and message of my song.

I have never been so emotionally connected to an audience until that evening. It changed me as a singer, she adds.

Sarah K and her new band the Soul Collective connected in 2012. She says finding the right mix of musicians who are supportive and committed can be difficult even in a musically diverse community such as Vancouver.

I am so blessed that I have the band members that I have, she says. We all have the same goals and I think that is great. Its been a great experience so far.

Sarah K credits social media for allowing her to connect and collaborate with various music industry professionals from around the world. Her Facebook page has over 1,400 likes.

Ive collaborated with a producer in Germany and with a producer in Louisiana, and a rapper in Washington D.C., and its all due to social media, she says. Ten years ago I wouldnt have made those connections.

Sarah Ks song Hands Up! has received airplay on Star 94 in Atlanta, Kiss 108 in Boston, Magic 1152 in Manchester and 105 Capital FM in Yorkshire.

While she admits shes a bit of a glamour diva, the singer says she has another side to her that most people might not expect.

Im a nature girl too, she says. I dont think people know that about me and they might be a bit surprised. There is this other side of me that loves nature and loves to hike.

For more information on Sarah K visit sarahk.ca or follow her on Twitter: @SarahKSings.

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