KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — An up-and-coming musician is helping other kids who want to experience music.
Marlee Arden has been singing all her life and picked up the guitar three years ago. The 8th grader is also a songwriter who recently came up with one in just a few hours.
"It's called 'A Little Goes a Long Way' and it's about helping out the community and how the little things in life can really mean a lot," she explained.
Marlee song focuses on helping others and so does her life.
Her music teacher at Grace Christian Academy is Tracy Rodgers.
"She is known by her leadership skills with the way that she acts and the things that she does in class and the way she gives to people and the way she cares for people," she said. "I am absolutely so proud of her for what she is going and her songwriting abilities keep improving every single day. And her performance ability obviously goes without saying is fantastic."
Marlee said, "I tried out for America's Got Talent when they came to Knoxville. It was a great experience. I met a lot of people and even just sitting there, there were people with banjos, everybody just came together as one big music community and we all started playing things."
Jay Apking is the founder of the ACE Awards, formerly known as the Bijou Awards. He said Marlee recently won the Rising Star category at the ACE Awards and also the Audience Choice Award. Part of her prize was $500 to give to a music or fine arts program.
"I wanted to give back to the community and people who really needed the help. I have a cousin that works at Adrian Burnett and she comes back with stories about how she wants to help out the people at the school so I thought it would be good to give back to them," Marlee said. "What I have experienced here at Grace, they have a really good music department. I would like them to be able to experience it too."
She feels a connection to the elementary school.
"I got and sing at Pizza Hoss once a month, the last Wednesday of every month. And so I've decided to give my tips to Adrian Burnett too," she said.
Her music instructor said, "She loves people and she loves kids and I think she wants others to have the experience that she has had."
Marlee said, "Anything that I can do to help the community I want to be part of that."
Marlee works with an artist-development company in Nashville called PCG that helps guide her talents.
We're always looking for outstanding students who are making a difference in our community. Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.