Bella Garland is an American singer-songwriter who strives to make a difference by inspiring, connecting, and healing people through her songwriting. Having faced some health challenges while growing up, Bella found comfort in music. Music physically, emotionally, and mentally healed her pain. At just 13 years old, Bella started to write songs. It quickly became evident that she held a gift for connecting deeply with people through her storytelling and songwriting.
Bella is originally from Sarasota, FL, one of America's most beautiful beach towns. She grew up spending the majority of her time writing songs on her piano and lugging her guitar and ukulele to the beach in search of inspiration. Bella's music spans multiple genres, such as pop, country, and folk. Bella now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she studies Music and Songwriting at Belmont University.
Recently, the iconic Bluebird Café chose Bella's original song "18" as the Golden Pick Contest Winner for July 2021, and she got to perform on the Bluebird stage in Nashville. Bella wrote "18" on her dorm room floor her first semester in college during the COVID-19 pandemic. It beautifully portrays the struggle and isolation young people face as the pandemic overshadows one of life's greatest milestones of transitioning into adulthood.
18 takes us on an emotional rollercoaster. The song starts off with some very warm guitar chords. Bella's smooth and youthful tone tells us tales of her golden childhood while reflecting on the conflicting, uneasy feelings and consciousness that come along with growing up. The song embodies "The grass is always greener on the other side." On the one hand, Bella says she can't wait to grow up, but once evolution arrives, she wants to go back in time.
Bella sings: "I wanted high heels, and I wanted lipstick, I wanted a boyfriend, I wanted one quick, and I wish I had known I was lucky then, cause when you grow up you realize fairy tales end." The relatability of this song is unmatched. Bella's hooks are both catchy and touching. The production of the record gives the song a very upbeat tempo, and Bella's ad-libs are those you'd find someone belting out during karaoke.18 casts a light on a tough situation that so many young people are facing today.
With the restrictions and obstacles that come along with the pandemic, these kids are challenged with having to adjust and accept that the fairytale life, let alone the typical social life they were promised, may be altered in real-time.
We absolutely love that you've created an anthem for your generation. What was the creative process of putting this song together like?
Thank you so much! I am so happy and truly on cloud 9. I wrote "18" literally on the floor of my dorm room at college. I had to start college in August 2020, right in the middle of COVID. It was so difficult to make friends due to the restrictions. It was the most alone I have ever felt. I know that a lot of young people can relate to that, especially college students. I turned to what I always do in difficult times: write a song about it. When The Bluebird Cafe picked "18" as the Golden Pick Winner for July 2021, I had a true full-circle moment. This song came out of such a horrible time, but it has already given me so much to be grateful for.
"Feels like every day you take a ride on a roller coaster called my pride" - This line is beautifully written! Can you please give us a small breakdown of the meaning behind this lyric? Is there a specific event or feeling that triggered this line to come to life?
Absolutely! Thank you so much for appreciating that line. It's one of my favorites because it perfectly describes how I, and so many others, feel during times of hardship. At the beginning of the pandemic, every single day felt like things were changing—one moment, I was set to start college in person. The next, we had been moved online. One morning cases seemed to be doing okay. The next day, they skyrocketed. All I could do was be safe and do my part. I could only take it one day at a time. This felt like a rollercoaster, and I never knew when the drop was coming. Everyone had told me how exciting college would be, and there I was, alone on a Friday night.
You said that you started making music at just 13. Do you come from a musical household? Who are some of your biggest musical influences and inspirations?
The funny thing is, my parents have zero musical ability. I love them so much, but they were more into sports when they were my age. My grandmother, however, grew up singing. She is where I get my voice and my love of music from. My writing does come from my mom a bit. She has always wanted to be an author, and she has a way with words. I feel that she has passed that down to me, just in a different medium: music. Growing up, my biggest influences were songwriters such as Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. I adore the stories they tell through their lyrics. I also grew up listening to Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and other incredible vocalists and writers.
What advice would you give to somebody struggling with their transition into adulthood?
Remember that nobody knows what they are doing. We are all learning and struggling, especially with everything going on right now. Finding an outlet can be so incredible and beneficial. For example, you are maybe writing or painting! These activities can help you work through any tough emotions you feel, and you get to make something beautiful.
What's next for you?
I have tons of songs I want to release, and I cannot wait to share them. I'm currently putting the finishing touches on several songs that I plan to release in the coming months. My music takes my listeners through the ups and downs of my life, and I can't imagine a better way to tell my story. I hope to grow my fanbase a lot this coming year, and I also would love to perform more around Nashville and other places too! No matter what, I know that I will always have music. I am so excited to continue this journey, and I am so thankful for my community of supporters who are willing to go on it with me.