Recently turned 14, Doc Martin wearing, singer-songwriter Roma has already raised over £12,000 for local charities with her performances and sales of her self produced EP and album. She has appeared in the press and on the radio, performed at Ipswich Music Day, Felixstowe Carnival and is the first local artist to be stocked in HMV Ipswich.
HC: When did it all start?
Roma: Mum was volunteering at The Ipswich Winter Night Shelter and I wanted to help, but I was only 11 at the time and couldn’t do much. I wrote a song ‘Father’ in about 15 minutes, we recorded it at home and when we listened back to it we didn’t really know what to do with it. Then the idea came up to sell it and raise money for the shelter. The song is about my grandfather who passed, and I thought of what my mother was thinking about. We launched the EP in 2017 with a target to raise £2,000 and in 6 months we raised £4,500!
HC: Wow, that’s great, how did it make you feel with it being so successful?
Roma: It was a good promotion for the charity as they do a lot for the homeless. It made me happy, being recognised for the work I do for the charity and it gets the public involved. My main goal is to get all the charities noticed and to tell the public they can do it too.
HC: What instruments do you play?
Roma: I taught myself to play the piano and I am teaching myself the guitar – so I can play songs badly! I’ll never play when I’m busking! I’m getting there slowly.
HC: Prior to the first EP in 2017, what have you done musically?
Roma: I’ve been part of Stagecoach since I was four years old and I was asked to perform in Shrek The Musical when I was 10 years old. It was a great experience to be in a professional show and everyone was lovely. I feel lucky to have done this and I love Shrek!
HC: So the song writing and fundraising is taking you on a path that wasn’t part of your plan?
Roma: I want to be a music producer too. I want to show and inspire other girls, to say girls can produce music. It gives me another skill and not having to rely on others.
HC: How is school? You do so much out of school, do you actually like it?
Roma: I do now. I had to change schools as I was being bullied. I got bullied because of the fundraising and my singing and song writing. I’d go into the music room and write songs every single day. It got to the point where I was being physically abused on the bus, everyday some form of bullying happened.
HC: That must have been a worrying time, Is the new school better?
Roma: Yes, the new school is great and are very supportive of my fundraising. There is one song on the album ‘Stronger’ written with my friend Chris Silvester. He did the lyrics and I came up with the melody. It’s about being strong and fighting the bullying. Not physically. Social Media is causing mental health problems. There is too much body shaming and the need to be body perfect. The song is about trying to promote you are not what they say you are, you’re not too fat, or too skinny – you are perfect the way you are and you don’t need to listen to anyone else. My album ‘Teen Spirit’ is all about teenage life and what goes on, you have love, break-ups and bullies.
HC: How do you chose the charities and the targets?
Roma: We have targets each year of what we want to reach and we have reached them. When I was bullied, I never used to go out, never went into town, never had any friends but doing this fundraising I’ve met loads of people of all different ages and I feel my followers understand me. They support me. I want to help those charities who are able to support the things I am passionate about, like mental health. We are currently raising for 4YP (Suffolk Young People’s Health Project).
HC: Who is your inspiration?
Roma: Ed Sheeran. I don’t really listen to the music but the words. They tell a story of his life and what he’s seen, and that’s what I do. I write about my life. I’ve written sad songs but that was during the bullying and now I write uplifting songs. I feel I have changed a lot listening to what I used to write and what I write now.
HC: How do you choose which song to use for the EP/Album?
Roma: We discuss a lot as a family. We are all really close and we go through the songs and make the best choice.
HC: What’s next for you?
Roma: We are working on a 5-track EP and will be launching for next year’s charities. Also I am Miss Junior Teen Suffolk. We’re also releasing a new charity record in October. It’s a new song that I have written about teenagers and self-harm. It is being used in a 15-minute documentary with Student Life Magazine, which will be shown in schools to highlight mental health issues, it’s called Who Am I? For the latest updates and to hear the new single, to be released in October check out: