Like a lot of kids her age, singer Hannah Mrozak was a victim of bullying in middle school.
The Richfield resident, now 14, moved to a new school in fifth grade. "I was a little on the heavier side and I just didn’t really think I fit in," she remembers. "I was different from a lot of the girls in my grade."
Mrozak got picked on and called hurtful and "just nasty, nasty" names. She endured physical abuse and had a locker slammed in her face and a book thrown at her head.
"I had no one to turn to," she says. "It got me in a little bit of a depression."
Now that she has a few years between her and the painful experience, Mrozak wants to help other young victims of bullying.
Her latest single, entitled "It’s In Me," speaks to the power of bullying and the strength of a victim to overcome it. Inspired by her personal experience, Mrozak penned the tune herself. The music video was directed by Eric Seguim-Arnold and filmed at her Richfield home and Slinger High School, where she is a freshman.
The video depicts Mrozak receiving verbally-abusive texts and being mocked by classmates. It ends with her performing triumphantly on the school stage and holding a sign that says "I control my own destiny."
The song was featured on the website of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Mrozak has been speaking at schools and churches about her experiences with bullying.
"I am so proud of her and I just want to do everything I can to support her," says her mom, Melena. "She loves to make people happy and wants to make people happy with her music."
A singer since the age of 4, Mrozak has performed for years at local talent shows, festivals and coffee shops and has sung the national anthem at Brewers, Bucks and Marquette games. Last year she released a CD entitled "Hopes and Dreams" which includes covers of songs by artists such as Etta James, Adele, Christina Aguilera and The Beatles. In 2011 she won the Milwaukee’s Got Talent competition at Winter Fest, and returns there this year as a judge.
"Music is her life and she is doing everything that she can to pursue her dream," says Melena.
The future looks bright for Mrozak, who is currently recording a new single, "Oh Santa," with producer Tony Schueller at Anton Music Productions. It’s another original composition of Mrozak’s that she plans to release on iTunes later this month. Come January she will begin recording her new pop/R&B CD, and "It’s In Me" is the disc's first single.
"My love of music was a very big inspiration, I think, for me at the time (of the bullying) – just to make me stronger," she says. Winning Milwaukee’s Got Talent made her feel "like the coolest person in the world."
Mrozak will be a judge at Winter Fest at the Delta Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave on Dec. 28.. Winter Fest will be held Dec. 26-31. For more information about Mrozak and her career, visit her website.
Colleen Jurkiewicz is a Milwaukee native with a degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and she loves having a job where she learns something new about the Cream City every day. Her previous incarnations have included stints as a waitress, a barista, a writing tutor, a medical transcriptionist, a freelance journalist, and now this lovely gig at the best online magazine in Milwaukee.