Songwriters, Teenagers Want More Than Just Love Songs

Aniya Mitchell

Aniya Mitchell is making her voice heard, without losing herself in the process.

As a firm believer that hard work will take you far, 16-year-old Mitchell is spending her third summer at the Otis Music Camp presented by the Otis Redding Foundation. Campers spend 10 days writing, learning, practicing and fine-tuning their own songs.

Last year, the Otis campers “just wrote songs about love and stuff because that’s mainly what people write about nowadays,” Mitchell said. This year, she strives to write a song that everyone can relate to.

As a high school student, Mitchell knows the challenges teenagers face in their lives and wants to channel those emotions in her music.

“This year we decided to write about something that a lot of people our age can relate to,” she said. “Like how you get into high school and a lot of your friends aren’t there for you like they were in middle school and elementary school.”

The process of songwriting varies for each camper, but Mitchell begins hers with a poem. The music and technicalities of the song are not added until after it has been written. The tempo of the song is left up to the writer.

In years past, Mitchell has written both slow and fast songs, but the faster song was more popular among the campers. Mitchell attributed this to the “groovier” nature of the song.

The most difficult aspect of live recording a song for Mitchell is filtering through the opinions of others. She has a song in her mind, but making that song a reality takes patience and a strong sense of self.

Mitchell’s confidence has prevented her from changing her music to satisfy others.

“In my opinion, I never lost myself. I’m not the type of person that follows after people, that does what everyone else is doing. I just always have been my own person,” she said.