Moved to action by struggles her sister and others experienced, a Mullica Hill resident recently released a song that sends a powerful message about bullying.
Gianna LaGuarina, who goes by the stage name G.Ma’ Ri, released an empowerment song titled “Mean Girls” on Nov. 12. The single garnered more than 10,000 listens in the first week just on Spotify, and attracted thousands more since then.
One of those listeners was her sister, 9-year-old Francesca, who was an inspiration for Gianna while she recorded the song in a Blackwood studio early last year. Francesca, a student in the Mantua Township School District, started feeling isolated a few years ago after she was bullied by a group of girls.
When she listened to Gianna’s song, Francesca became emotional, but she also began to feel less isolated and, instead, empowered.
“She felt empowered by the song after she felt that she had something to stand behind,” said Carla LaGuarina, Gianna and Francesca’s mother.
Gianna said the song is meant for anyone who feels bullied, isolated or unheard.
“I just want to let people know that they’re not the only one going through it,” Gianna noted. “You’re strong, you’re beautiful, you’re enough.”
Kiersten Chinnock, a teacher at Mantua Township’s J. Mason Tomlin School, is a friend of the LaGuarina family and refers to the single as a “super special song.”
Commenters on social media shared their appreciation for a standout line in the song: “I’m special. I am strong. I am beautiful. I am enough.”
Gianna says the positive comments about the single — co-written by a family friend whose daughter was bullied in school — is a boost of confidence for her career.
“It feels really good,” she related.
Gianna began publicly singing the National Anthem at Clearview Regional High School basketball games during the sophomore season. Now, as a freshman student at Rowan College of South Jersey who also plays basketball, she hopes to get her degree while also pursuing a music career.
“I want to do what I love, which is to perform on stage,” Gianna said. “I want to get my degree, but it’s a backup if my singing career doesn’t fall through.”
A music video for the single is expected to be released Dec. 29. Gianna plans to release another single shortly after. Her music can be found on all music platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music and Youtube, by searching her stage name.