Lianna Gutierrez is a 15-year old singer of Filipina descent who is generating an amazing buzz as a protégé and mentee of Patti Austin. She sings the duet Over My Shoulder with Patti Austin; the songs lyric written by Dawn Carroll about hope, courage and transformation that has become the anthem of the Over My Shoulder Project, a national mentoring initiative that uses music to raise awareness about the impact of mentoring both cross-culturally and cross-generationally.

A Mentor. Something that every girl my age wants but doesn’t speak about. Why? I don’t know. Maybe they don’t want to admit it or maybe they’re embarrassed to ask for advice. Having Patti Austin as my mentor has helped me not only with my singing, but as a person. She told me to always stay humble and never change. Seeing her in the studio helped me see who she really was; funny, humble, and extremely down-to-earth. Recording Over My Shoulder was a really thrilling experience. I got more comfortable in the studio and actually got to know Patti. One thing that I learned: once she enters a room, there will be non-stop laughter. We had a blast! Laughing and joking around, it got so bad that we had to stop ourselves mentally and get back into focus mode.

But one thing that Over My Shoulder taught me was that having a mentor is really important. We young girls don’t know what could happen in the future, but the wiser beautiful women have been there and know how to handle things. I’m super glad that I have such a wonderful mentor that I can ask questions of and shop with.

In High School I see many girls make poor choices. These girls are my friends. Sometimes I tell them to do the right thing…sometimes they listen…sometimes they don’t. I wish they had someone older who has been there to tell them that they need to wake up and smell the coffee. I wish they had someone to tell them that they’re so much better than that. That’s why Over My Shoulder is so important to me because I’ve seen girls ruin their lives all on their own. I want every girl out there to realize that they can make a difference in other girls’ lives and that we’re all sisters. We need to help each other out. We should be there for each other. It shouldn’t be war.

So next time you see a girl that is in dire need of a friend/mentor, be there for her. Tell her that whatever she’s going through will subside and she can get through it. Tell her she’s a beautiful person inside and out. Tell her that she can make a difference if she stays strong. Tell her that she can make a difference. Be there, Over her Shoulder. And tell her that you’ll ALWAYS be there. Always.

This post originally appeared on Lianna’s blog after she premiered the song Over My Shoulder with Patti Austin at the June 2009 Power Girls Gala.

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