Lisa Heller ’18 has reached out to the world through her music, and the world is reaching back. Her single, “Hope,” has drawn more than 1.5 million views on YouTube, trending to number one in five countries. Through her song, its video, and the accompanying campaign, she’s touched people around the world.
Heller found her love for singing through a series of serendipitous events during her sophomore year of high school.
“I was in the middle of running a race and my throat started closing up,” she said. “I wasn’t sure what was happening, but I just couldn’t get the air in.” Heller ended up collapsing over the finish line. A few months later, she was diagnosed with vocal cord dysfunction. Her doctor advised her to relax her vocal cords by singing or humming during her races.
Around the same time, Heller taught herself how to play the piano when a Steinway was passed down in her family. “I wrote my first song and, after that, I became addicted to it, and I couldn’t stop writing,” she said.
She wrote “Hope” in January of 2016, recorded it in Los Angeles, and taped the video in May. “I wanted to make it universal enough that anyone could relate to it,” Heller said of the song that has an all-embracing message of inspiration.
On seeing the video, a neighbor of hers, who has a son with Down syndrome, began to cry, telling Lisa that the song felt “so relatable” and “so inspirational.” Heller said that she knew then that there was “something more than just the music in this song.”
Heller took “Hope” to children with terminal illnesses in her community, playing the song at hospitals and homes. As her music video attracted more views, her message spread further, too.
“People from around the world started to reach out to me about how it inspired them,” she said. The response motivated her to create the Hope Wall, an online forum where people can talk about their illnesses as well as the hopes and dreams that push them to persevere.
At Colgate, Heller is a psychology major, following in the footsteps of her mom, Wendy (Loeb) Heller ’88. Lisa is also the event director for the Student Committee on Providing Entertainment, on the Colgate Activities Board’s music committee, and in Kappa Kappa Gamma. Hoping to make music her career, she’s just released a new song, called “Things You Never Said,” and has another video coming out soon. Check out her music and latest releases here.