Ariana Rivas stepped up to the stage, stopping at the dead center in her R&B and gospel choir group.
She was ready to deliver the opening lyrics of their song, “There is a Reason.” She was worried about hitting the notes on her solo.
After pausing to take a breath, Rivas begins, swaying her hips and nodding her head to the song’s tempo.
“Singing has helped me with coming to God and staying connected with him,” Rivas said.
Rivas owes her passion for singing to challenges from her past. As a child, she was bullied by her peers. She said other students went so far as to create fake profiles of her on social media sites.
“[My family] would see me coming home crying, and not being the real me I was supposed to be,” Rivas said.
To combat the resulting struggle, she took up singing in her choir at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church. More experienced singers helped her grow and singing at church deepened her relationship with God.
“If there’s something going on I just look up to him and say ‘Is it going to be okay?’ and it always is,” Rivas said.
With the closing notes of Rivas’ solo, she exhaled, grinning in relief. Her voice was steady.