“Don’t Give Up!”

Kelsey Coan

88+ Ways Music Can Change Your Life, published by Keep Music Alive, is a compilation of  over 150 inspirational stories & quotes from musicians, music educators and music lovers from all over the world. Included are a number of stories from Grammy winning and Platinum selling artists & composers.  The authors have given Music In A Word permission to post contributions to the book from time to time and we are thrilled to present one below.


I am a singer, songwriter, and actress from New Jersey. I recently completed my debut album including my single “Don’t Give Up”. This song is very dear to me, because it sends out a message out to “believe in yourself” and to know that “we are all special” in our own unique way!

I was bullied in middle school, so I know firsthand how hard it can be to live with that every day. I also have a brother with special needs, and he often goes through difficult times with people who are not aware of his situation. I hope my story encourages others who may be dealing with the same things I have, or some of the things I see happen with my brother.

When I was in middle school, I didn’t really fit in with all the other students. I wasn’t wearing name brand clothes and hardly wore any make up. As a result, I had only a few friends and mostly kept to myself. I was, however, always put in the middle of drama… starting with the first day of middle school. I was told about an awful rumor that was spreading like wildfire around the school about me. The person spreading this rumor was, I thought, my friend. Things just grew from there and I was made fun of, teased and excluded. I was into singing, theater and dancing and I guess to them this wasn’t “cool.” I was put down by my peers and also by some of my  instructors. When I was in show choirs and theater camp, they would say things like “you aren’t good enough for a solo or major role.” I was always in the background, given minor roles and usually placed in the ensemble.

After a while, I began to question myself… ”Was I that bad at what I love to do?” My self-esteem was crushed! My parents started to see that I was pulling back from any type of social interaction. They encouraged me to explain to them exactly what was bothering me. Finally, I told them everything. They immediately pulled me out of the public school that I was attending and transferred me to a local private school to complete my middle school education.

After that, I was enrolled in home-school for my high school years. Being home-schooled allowed me to fully pursue my career in singing and acting. I left the show choir and the theater program that I was with and auditioned for another theater program and landed a lead role! I started to sing at any and all coffee houses and open mic nights that I could find. This is where I finally began to realize that I had what it takes to make something of myself… doing what I love. Believing in myself has led to featuring me in magazine and newspaper articles and radio & talk show interviews where I was able to share my experiences and hopefully inspire others. I have also been cast in an upcoming TV series called, “The Familia” and am writing a theme song for a film based on a true story called, “Rise To Grace, A Genuine Street Story.” I continue to perform regularly including a live performance and radio interview at BB Kings for the upcoming CMA Fest in Nashville.

In addition to the message of “believing in yourself,” I also feel very strongly about those who have served our country. My grandfather is a veteran and served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1969. Inspired by his stories, I co-wrote another song on my album entitled, “Something to Stand For” with Nashville songwriter Chuck Thomas. This song is dedicated to ALL who have served, or are currently serving in our military. It was written to Honor them and Thank them for their service and for our freedom. Last summer, I was performing at a festival and introduced it as my last song for the show. I always dedicate it to all who serve in our military… past and present. As I began the dedication, a man walked up to the front of the crowd. As he listened intently to every word I was singing, he began to cry. I walked up to him during my performance and began singing to him and gave him a hug. I had to hold back a few tears myself so I could finish my song. After the show, he came up to thank me, saying that he was a veteran, and that my song had really touched his heart. I could not believe the impact it had. It was at that moment that I had realized and saw firsthand that telling a story through music can help people and bring us all closer together. I will never forget that moment.

I have been truly blessed, and I thank God every day for all He has given me! I understand what it is like to be “left out” and to be “made fun of” by your peers. It hurts! But, I have learned to overcome and rise above it! I learned to do what makes ME happy and pursue my dreams, and to never let ANYONE tell me that “I’m not good enough”. Being able to express my feelings through my music has made a real difference in my life, and for that I am forever grateful. Because of the negative experiences I’ve had early in life, I have decided to write inspirational songs with messages to help encourage people. Writing and performing has truly helped me “move on” with my life and my career, and I can only hope that I can inspire others to do the same. Always remember to never let anyone bring you down. Follow your own heart and “Don’t Give Up!” God Bless.

Reprinted by permission from Keep Music Alive Publishing – Copyright 2015

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50% of the proceeds from all book and ebook sales of “88+ Ways…” will be donated to foundations providing music instruments and lessons to schools and communities in need.

88+ Ways Music Can Change Your Life




Kelsy Coan  is a country singer/songwriter/actress from South New Jersey.  Visit her website at http://www.kelseycoanmusic.com/