Boys had cyberbullied the shy, introverted girl at school with hateful texts, but Autumn Helene found her own way to fight back.
Not with her fists.
Instead, she wrote, “You Won’t Regret A Thing,” a powerful song to express the physical sensations and emotions she was feeling at the time.
Soulful music with a punch.
“It was a really difficult situation,” Helene recalled of her experience. “The back-and-forth messages left me feeling really bad about myself, even though I did nothing wrong.”
The song proved therapeutic, helping Helene cope with the pain of being a victim. It was her way of taking her power back.
“It kind of all came to me,” Helene said of the song. “When you’re really good at inspiration, it just comes to you. It came out kind of perfectly. It took me an hour or so to put the song together, and I quickly found all the chords for it.
“Music is a way to help people,” she said. “For me, when I’m feeling really down, I listen to music.”
The song – released last summer – resonated with listeners on internet streams and eventually caught the ear of national director and producer Lisa Lee Martin, who recently selected Helene’s single for her “Hunting Jessica” TV series. The new, American dark fantasy thriller series revolves around Jessica, a vampire slayer living in the fictional town of Devil’s Bend (Newkirk, Okla.).
Helene, an honors student in the seventh grade at Cascade Middle School, is one of the youngest composers in history to receive IMDb credit for a song to be used in a TV show.
She will use spring break to film on location in Oklahoma. Filming is expected to wrap up in April.
Helene also has been invited to make cameo performances for Season 2, with a chance to work with Martin on a new song for Season 3.
“We are proud to introduce Miss Autumn Helene to our ‘Hunting Jessica’ series family,” Martin said in a news release. “Her music comes from the heart, with deep lyrics that resonate with anyone who has ever been bullied, or made to feel that they are not good enough. She is a young artist with an old soul and a bright future ahead of her.”
The sudden attention has surprised but not overwhelmed the young singer and musician.
“I’m so excited. I didn’t expect this to happen all at once,” Helene said. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”
Born to perform
Kathyrn and Matthew Chociej’s only child was “wired” to sing, it seems, from the very beginning. Kathyrn, a social worker, and Matthew, a bus driver for the Auburn School District, raised a girl with potential to entertain.
“When she was little she used to ask us if she was going to have other siblings, and we always told her she got all the good genes,” Kathyrn said. “We saved them all up. … She got them all, all the good genes from both sides of the family.
“She came out singing. She’s always been musical,” the mom said. “She’s always been very kind and compassionate, and that’s just who she is.”
Helene began to train and perform with Rainier Youth Choirs in the second grade and continues to blossom today as a soprano for the prized community choir. She plays the clarinet in the school band and joined her first rock band, The Sleeping Kings, through the Ted Brown Music Outreach LiveItOutLoud program.
A bright student who is mature beyond her years, Helene is accomplished in music theory. She studies piano, strums the guitar and explores songwriting.
She recently began to share her music publicly, performing solo on stages in Auburn and throughout the state at festivals, fairs, pubs, parties and special celebrations. She has played at venues such as Louie Gs, The Swiss, Jazzbones, Spanish Ballroom, Rail Hop’n Brewing, and Geaux Brewing. She plays regularly at the Auburn mall – The Outlet Collection – where curious shoppers stop, turn and listen.
Her reputation and her audiences have grown, as has her passion to write more music.
Shy in crowds, Helene is somebody else with it’s time to command an audience with a mic or guitar in hand.
“People are so shocked. They’re like, ‘I thought you were that quiet girl,’” Helene said. “I’m like, ‘Well, I am, but I can sing, too.’”
Recognizing that her music needs polish, Helene raised enough money from her performances, gigs and generous tips to afford 10 hours of professional studio recording. Her songs began to sound even better.
Helene has since released two additional songs: “Stars Align” and “Good in You,” available on most streaming platforms with followers in 42 countries; and can be frequently heard on Radio Wigwam in the UK, WSMG Radio, Indie Star Radio and SheWolf Radio.
Her songs can also be found on Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and YouTube Music.
An album is in the works.
Helene, who has been classically trained, enjoys all types of music, with a preference for contemporary pop. She especially follows the music from such artists as Adele, Tate McRae, Billie Eilish, Bea Miller, Taylor Swift and Sabrina Carpenter.
Music is important, but so too is college and the need to follow a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
“We don’t want her to be burned out. We don’t want her to be stressed out,” said Kathyrn, who manages her daughter’s schedule.
Music has been fun, an adventure.
“I don’t know where exactly it will go,” Helene said. “Music is kind of an unpredictable thing. I haven’t had this all playing out in my head just yet.”
Helene hopes her music strikes a chord with others, especially girls and those reaching out for help.
“It’s such a great feeling,” she said of performing. “It’s hard to explain, but it’s something that makes me feel so great …. and it’s a great feeling to be helping someone else who may be going through a similar situation.”