PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A high school senior in Pensacola is making music, making waves in the music industry, is also making a difference in the lives of pediatric cancer patients. Tris Weeks is just 17-years-old. But she’s an old soul. Tris has been performing since the age of three.
“It was just a little school production, but I fell in love with it. I found that I could be myself on stage in a way that I wasn’t able to in regular life,” said Tris.
Tris is a classically trained vocalist, a solo artist who also sings in the rock band Classic June. Her musical influences range from modern alternative like the groups Imagine Dragons to songwriters from the ’60s and ’70s like Cat Stevens and Paul Simon. She began composing her own music about 4 years ago.
“I was able to combine poetry and emotion that I was feeling with singing and performing, which are the things I’ve grown up loving,” said Tris. “Sometimes I’ll come home and be really sad and write a song about how I don’t fit in. But I also write about fun experiences,” Tris says with a laugh.
Tris is also making a habit of proving cynical grownups wrong.
“I had a lot of people tell me I was too young, that I was never going to make a significant impact,” said Tris. “I had a lot of teachers telling me you’re never gonna be able to make money in music, you’re too sensitive, but I’ve found that my sensitivity is my greatest strength.”
That sensitivity kicked it when, while working as a movie extra, Tris met a boy who changed her life.
“We were so much alike, except that I wasn’t fighting for my life,” said Tris.
The boy had brain cancer. His battle caused Tris to face some realities.
“I take going to school for granted every day. He just wanted to go (to school) without having chemo interrupt something,” said Tris.
It was a turning point which inspired Tris to turn her music into something bigger.
“It felt like a calling, like something so much greater than me, like I almost didn’t have a say in it,” said Tris.
Tris began organizing fundraising gigs, singing to raise money for the Tyler Robinson Foundation which supports pediatric cancer patients and is backed by the popular group Imagine Dragons.
“I was able to raise over $30,000 for this foundation I believe in.”
Imagine Dragons took notice, and Tris was honored at a national gala in Las Vegas.
“I had to give a speech in front of Imagine Dragons and 2000 people. It was incredible. Tyler Robinson’s family cried when I gave my speech. To see how much it meant to them and to have other cancer families tell me that my work has changed their lives, I can’t ever put into words how incredible that feeling is,” said Tris.
Fame is fine, but for Tris, it was home from Vegas and back to work. She’s in her final semester of high school and is looking for the perfect college fit. She’s hard at work, too. Without an agent, she’s boldly sought out, and landed, solo gigs in New York City and Chicago.
“Do what my heart tells me to do and trust that everything is going to work out,” said Tris with a smile.
She’s continuing her fundraising to support the Tyler Robinson Foundation and is spreading the word to others who have a dream.
“Just really believe in what you’re doing and let that passion be stronger than the words of people coming in that might say you’re crazy for wanting to do that. If you really put your heart and mind to something no matter how young you are, how old you are, you can change the world.”
Not a surprising word of encouragement from a young woman who penned these lyrics: “I’m a dreamer, a survivor, the girl who lights the world on fire.”
Tris and the band she sings with, Classic June, will be performing at Gallery Night tonight in downtown Pensacola.
Watch Tris’s full interview below:
Watch Tris perform her original song, Breaking Down,here.