Over a mountain she climbed


With her blonde hair spread out on her pillow, the young girl stared at her ceiling thinking to herself. I imagine, she breathed, closing her eyes. Images of stages and tour buses, all-nighters and hastily scribbled song lyrics played like a film on the back of her eyelids. Creating visual art always came easy to Hadley Lange, senior. Music however, she had to work for that.

“She’s been gifted at art since she was little,” Trenna Travis, Lange’s mom, said. “When music came along she had to work harder [to overcome her shy nature]. Because she had to work really hard for it, she appreciates it more. The fact she has to really dedicate herself to it that also has built her confidence. She knew she had to overcome fears and make herself vulnerable. From difficult things we learn more.”

According to Travis, Lange was too timid to order her own food at restaurants. Lange said her shyness was an obstacle, especially when it came to her music. When Lange’s first onstage performance at a coffee house came along, she shook in anticipation. Despite the nerves, once Lange began singing, Travis claims she was a force to be reckoned with.

“When she started music she was very shy,” Travis said. “Her very first performance she sat down and held my hand, trembling. Now she’s up on that stage like nobody’s business. She owns it.”

Before her freshman year in 2014, Lange joined Kirkwood’s School of Rock, a program designed to help kids and teens collaborate and perform musically. Through School of Rock, Lange met many friends including Avery Rhoades, sophomore. 

The stage is a place where you can put on the confident persona of yourself. That’s what I do.

— Lange

“School of Rock allows you to perform often and get the hang of [performing],” Rhoades said. “Everyone there is so supportive of each other. It’s a family.”

According to Lange, within the supportive environment she found herself opening up. Everyone is focused on bettering their music and helping others do the same encouraged her to be who she was without fear of judgement. Through her School of Rock family, Lange found an outlet for all emotions she kept inside: the stage.

“The stage is a place where you can put on the confident persona of yourself,” Lange said. “That’s what I do. I’ve become better at talking with people too. I have a hard time with getting myself out to people, but on stage I have fun. I like to perform in front of strangers because they don’t know who I am offstage.”

While Lange put on the persona of herself that allowed her to do what she loved, her family watched her open up. According to Travis, Lange was finally able to be fully herself without holding back, which proved to be the best gift a mother could receive.

“What School of Rock did for her was help her find her voice, and be confident in that voice,” Travis said. “When she would get on stage not only was she able to project her voice, but she was bearing her soul. [The stage] is a very vulnerable place, but it built her strength. Being vulnerable is a really powerful thing, she revealed herself to people even though it was scary at first. Music is her way to express herself.”

Offstage, reality seeped in. School work piled up and classes got harder. According to Lange, after joining School of Rock and starting high school, she did not possess the luxury of downtime.

“It was really difficult [to balance school and music],” Lange said. “I had to put a lot time into school, but then I’d also have rehearsals and music lessons for 2 hours after school. Doing all those different things it was hard to figure out what time to do all the work, so I really had to push myself.”

According to Lange as time passed on, her love for all musical genres, especially jazz, only grew. Her singing got stronger, guitar playing more consistent and her self-written songs deeper. However a new obstacle was approaching: the future.

“There were a lot of times [I doubted pursuing music],” Lange said. “Being an artist in general, is really difficult, but it’s what I love. If it means I’ll be a teacher someday, that’s okay. As long as I play music then I’m doing what I love. That’s all that matters to me.”

Lange plans to attend Columbia College Chicago to pursue music business, as well as building connections in the city to pursue her dream no matter the risk. According to Lange, she hopes her music helps to inspire people and reassure them they are not alone. For her, it is all about connection with the lyrics, the style and most importantly the story.

“Hadley feels very deeply,” Travis said. “Walking through the halls, she has so much love for people around her. She’s sensitive to the feelings and emotions of the people around her. She’s creatively gifted in all aspects, whether it’s art or music or even the way she thinks or sees people. She is a light, one people don’t necessarily see. If anyone would take time to know her, they’d see the deep sensitivity she has for others. She conveys that love through her music.”