Lake Highlands resident Cameron Ernst, 22, is a musician on a mission. In high school, he started writing music — fluffy love-song type stuff, he tells us — but his college studies focused on acting and theater. When he entered the post-university world, he rediscovered his passion for making music. He started writing and recording, only this time with more maturity, selflessness and purpose. He recently joined the “Love is Louder” movement through which he travels to schools and youth groups to spread his inspiring message aimed at drowning out violence, hate and bullying.
Where are you from?
I live in Lake Highlands now, but I grew up in Wichita, Kan.
Your music is driven by a cause. Was this always the case?
Not really. When I was a teenager, I wrote sappy love songs. It wasn’t until I started caring more about causes, such as Invisible Children, an organization [that aims at protecting children in war-torn Uganda] I became involved with during college, that I began writing with a deeper meaning.
Did you always know you’d be a musician?
Actually, I was into acting and drama. At University of Southern California I studied acting and musical theater with aspirations of making it in Hollywood. TV is different that theater and music, though, and as I worked a little, I realized I missed the audience. The arrows started pointing in a different direction — music. Unfortunately, I knew nothing about producing music or recording, so I did an internship at Warner Bros. Records and learned all I could. Then I just somehow felt drawn to Dallas, which is also where my family lives.
And that is when you began seeing a larger mission in your music?
Even before then I had a passion for writing music about causes I cared about. As a senior at USC, another student and I recorded the song “Legacy”, which was inspired by the Invisible Children movement mentioned earlier. Recently, following much publicity about student suicides provoked by bullying, I read about the “Love is Louder” movement. I recorded a song by the same name in order to contribute to the effort. That time in particular, the song just seemed to come out.
Tell us more about the “Love is Louder” movement.
It’s a multimedia effort started by actress Brittany Snow [“Gossip Girl”] to rally love and hope and prevent bullying, depression, shame or suicide. But it’s not exactly an anti-bullying campaign because bullying is not the focus. The focus is on love and creating a positive environment. It goes for not just kids but for everyone. Bullying and hatred can happen in the adult workplace, too.
What exactly is your role in the movement now?
I go to schools — in fact, I recently went to my old high school — to address students. I perform the song, which has the type of pop style they can relate to, and then I share my experiences with them, tell them about the movement. I have been to several of the area Young Life groups, including at Lake Highlands, JJ Pearce and Berkner high schools, and hope to visit more schools in Richardson ISD during the next school year.
Did you have an experience with being bullied in school?
I was a drama kid, so I was picked on some. What I share with the students today, though, is mostly about how I stayed positive and successful through love and service while I was in school — being on the student council, for example, and working at the school newspaper. All the little things I did helped me to surround myself with positivity. The idea of caring for and loving your classmates is an important message for both bullies and those being bullied.
Is your message religious?
No — not necessarily. Personally, I am a Christian, but this is message is not denominational, but purely about love and its power to create a better world.
Learn more about Cameron Ernst and “Love is Louder” at cameronernst.com.
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lake Highlands.