Anastasia Richardson's walls are covered with posters of her musical idols, teen pop stars that adorn most other teenagers' rooms.

But for Richardson, a 17-year-old junior at Edison High School, the posters remind her of her goal while she strums her guitar and sings along. She wants to be on posters someday.

To reach that goal, Richardson has posted videos to YouTube, grown her Twitter followers to near 56,000 and has been traveling to Tennessee to record an album.

"I was pretty blown away because I didn't think that anyone would see my stuff," Richardson said. "I didn't realize everyone else had been sharing it until a friend from school said they were sharing it with their friends, which I thought was pretty cool."

Thanks to the positive feedback she's received from social media across the world, she's been motivated to hone her vocal and guitar skills, hoping to someday take the big stage singing pop country music, she said.

But for now, she's still building her fan base, writing songs and recording, hoping to release her first album by summer.

Her use of social media outlets like Twitter and making her music accessible on YouTube has helped her gain attention, similar to the way most current pop stars connect with their fans.

It was seeing one of those pop stars perform that was a big motivating factor for her interest in music.

"I wasn't serious with (singing) until when I was in about eighth or ninth grade I went to the Justin Bieber concert in 2010," Richardson said. "That's when it hit me, when he did a slow song. The way he was performing blew me away. I thought that's what I want to do. Since then, I've been pushing myself to my goal. I want to be as big as he is."

She started taking guitar and voice lessons and posting on YouTube, and with pushes on social media, she had video views in the tens of thousands, with one video reaching more than 100,000.

"For me as a mother watching her, I always said whatever you want to do, I will stand behind you," said her mother, Susan Dale. "But when she told me she wanted to sing —— we had never heard her sing."

But as things started to happen with more views online, Dale said she and Richardson realized they could make this goal more of a reality.

Her strategy was to follow as many people as she could while reaching out to more people, a strategy that helped get her music in more people's hands. She even had celebrities spreading her music, including Lance Bass of the pop group NSYNC and recently from the official account of the Oak Ridge Boys.

That prolific online presence has concerned Dale, who said she is active with her daughter's online presence.

"She does all the communication," Richardson said. "I see who's following and who I should block. It's scary out there."

Another motivation for her to succeed was the poor way she was treated at school, she said.

Teenagers were relentless in poking fun at her, she said.

"I knew it was bad when she put a post on Facebook saying she wished the bullying would stop," Dale said. "I was at the school in 30 minutes."

It's part of the reason Richardson retreated into her music.

"I would ignore it and when I came home, I would put my headphones on and listen to music all day," Richardson said. "It would just take it all away."

Things have turned around for her, but she now sees anti-bullying campaigns as a way she can do what she loves in music while giving back. She has said that money from each album sale made will be donated to such organizations as the Freedom Girls Foundation.

Through social media, she was able to connect with Big Matador Recording in Tennessee, which has worked with many big names in country music and continues to help artists get their music to the masses.

She's set to record later this spring, putting her one step closer to her teenage dream.


Jerry Wofford 918-581-8346