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Juno Award winner shares her grown up advice with students

 Photos by Michael AJ Robinson

HER STYLE AND sound may have recently graduated from electro-pop to acoustic, but that doesn’t mean Lights can’t teach post-secondary students how to have an electrifying frosh week.

The Timmins-born recording artist is currently on tour visiting college and university campuses across Ontario to help usher in the back-to-school season.

Students at Algonquin College were treated to the singer’s high-energy show Sept. 5, when Lights performed songs from her latest album Siberia Acoustic at the Algonquin Commons Theatre.

The visibly excited crowd saw the 26-year-old artist in full head-banging mode, offering students—many of whom were away from home for the first time—an opportunity to de-stress and let loose.

“Playing a college crowd is a little different than playing a regular one,” Lights said. “Everyone is so excited to be away from home for the first time and meet new friends that it makes the whole concert environment that much more inspiring.

“I try to tell them that they need to take time to have fun while they’re at school, but they also need to have an intention for their lives that will keep them motivated through the rough times,” she said. “They need to have something positive in mind for themselves that they can’t be afraid to chase after.”

As the daughter of missionary parents whose work took them around the world, Lights knows something about having to adjust to new surroundings.

She spent much of her childhood living in different locations across Ontario, as well as in places as far away as British Columbia, Jamaica, and the Philippines.

“I moved away from home at 18. It was a really intense experience for me,” said the 2009 Juno New Artist of the Year. “There were times when I felt really frustrated and lonely. One thing that I learned is that you have to find people around you who are going to be good influences. You need to be willing to go to those people and learn from them, because they will help you set a good direction for your life.”

It’s a message that resonates with many Ontario students this time of year. For some, the stress of having to move away from loved ones and the pressure to perform academically can be overwhelming.

Psychologists say many students struggle to cope with the major changes that take place during this period of their lives and many develop issues with depression and anxiety. Some may even turn to substance abuse to help deal with the pressure.

But Lights suggested that students can alleviate some of their stress by giving themselves a little time to catch their breath and find some balance. In the meantime, she said coming out to one of her concerts may well be the best medicine.

“I want the students coming to my shows during frosh week to have a great night, to jump in with a whole bunch of strange people, enjoy some good music, and do a little bit of dancing,” she said.

“The whole point of our show is to have fun, play some bangers for an hour, and do some singing too,” she said. “Your voice should be crushed at the end of the night. You shouldn’t worry about anything else.”