By Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times
DJ Annie Red is 9 years old, but she has a big voice and an even bigger following.
Red – who is from Brooklyn, New York – toured Birmingham this week on an anti-bullying campaign where she visited Charles F. Hard Elementary, Charles A. Brown Elementary, Oxmoor Valley Elementary and Jones Valley Middle School.
The pint sized DJ, author and rapper spoke to the crowd, most of whom were her age or younger, about what to do when being bullied or witnessing it.
“Tell a teacher or an adult,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to say something.”
She engaged the audience, which included Jefferson County Commissioner Sandra Little Brown, school officials and faculty, by showing off her mixing skills, having a dance competition among students, rapping one of her songs, reading from her book The Bully Stop, and having students take an anti-bullying pledge.
Red started DJing when she was 6, and it was her father who taught her the skill. When he saw she was serious, he got her certified at the New York’s DJ Scratch Academy.
“Your kids can succeed but they need your help,” said Glenn Horton, Red’s father. “They need to have a passion for it. We go to pageants, fashion shows and it’s apparent to me that sometimes the kids are not into it; this is the parents’ dreams. If your kid is not into it, it will show. If your kid has a passion, follow it. You may have wanted to do beauty shows, but if [your kids] are into science follow it.”
Red said she can relate to the message she spreads. She was bullied often about her raspy voice, but her reason for spreading the anti-bullying message was beyond her personal experience.
“People would say I sound like a boy,” Red said. “But [the reason I spread this message is] because I heard all these stories about people committing suicide because of bullying. I didn’t think it was right, so I wanted to change it.”
Red is well-known in Brooklyn, but she has also performed in New Jersey, South Carolina and Florida, she said. Her goal is to be a DJ when she grows up, but also to keep spreading the message about bullying. Her favorite thing about DJing is the crowd, she said.
“The way people get hype,” she said. “There’s this song called ‘Last Night The DJ Saved My Life’ and I liked it. It talks about how DJs can change things.”
Red said the tour was “tiring but it was worth it.”
Red spent her spring break in Birmingham, and her mother, Sonya Horton said it was important to them as parents that she spend it this way.
“This platform is important,” Sonya said. “We knew a long time ago that she had a big voice and she had messages inside that she wanted to share. In this chaotic world we need those messages. As parents its our responsibility to nurture that, whatever it takes. We are seeing that children can change the world. They have a voice. They may not be able to vote but they have a voice.”
The Hortons backed Red’s desire to be a DJ when they learned of her passion, Sonya said.
“Everything is possible; nothing is too much, nothing is impossible,” she said. “At a young age it’s important to nurture that and support that gift. It may change, but her being a DJ, author and rapper is what we’re feeding now. That’s what we’re called to do as parents. Kids can’t do it on their own. They can be geniuses, but they need a support system behind them. She can’t drive, take a cab, get a plane, I had to be here. We had to be here.”
Follow Dj Annie Red on Facebook at www.facebook.com/djanniered, Instagram at @dj_annie_red and Twitter at @DJAnnieRed1.