Tatum Lynn has accomplished more than many artists have in their lifetime. She is a philanthropist, singer, writer and artist—all before her 21st birthday.
Lynn, who grew up in Phoenix singing in the school choir and performing in plays, didn’t necessarily plan her success as a singer. Despite the massive success her breakthrough song, “Later Baby XO,” in 2019, Lynn was actually a writer first. When many other kids strolled through their early years, clinching a safety blanket, favorite doll, or Marvel action figure, Lynn kept her journal close. It was her prowess for words and meaningful messages that gifted her opportunities to take her lyrics further and write with top-level songwriters for her debut record, Let Down Your Hair, out March 5.
Before working with a-list producers for her debut record, Lynn crafted her artist persona. “Later Baby XO” set a niche for the singer-songwriter, providing a link to not only her lyricism and message of encouragement, but also her role as an advocate for music therapy, anti-bullying and suicide prevention and awareness, which she has been involved in since high school.
“Those lyrics portray all kinds of different scenarios,” Lynn told American Songwriter. “My friend who had quit a job played ‘Later Baby XO’ when they left. My cousin went through a breakup, and she listened to that song. So, I think it works in many different scenarios.”
“Later Baby XO” offered listeners a way to cope with and re-contextualize life’s negatives. The same was true for Lynn’s next single “Let Down Your Hair,” which she wrote around the time of famed basketball player Kobe Bryant’s death, while in Los Angeles with producers Joey Barba and Lauren Christy. It ended up being a match made in heaven for Lynn, who was unsure of what to expect working with other songwriters.
“I was a little timid,” Lynn said. “I wasn’t sure about how it was going to go but it ended up being so great. I feel like we just got along. We kind of thought the same way and wrote the same way. It really helped me grow as a songwriter. I learned a lot from those sessions.”
“Let Down Your Hair” solidified Lynn as a collaborator, while also giving her an opportunity to implement other ideas like self-care into her song, something Lynn was needing after the death of Kobe Bryant.
“I just remember feeling the weight of the world,” Lynn remembered. “I was super sad about that and we started talking about how short life is. During those sessions we were just mainly focusing on how to live your best life and do what you love.
“We didn’t finish that day and then of course the shutdown happens. I started to see all the positivity but also negative actions going on in social media. It definitely opened my eyes to write and focus on that in the song as well. It’s just talking about letting down your hair on social media and in real life. Just live your life and love yourself while doing it.”
For Lynn, whose fanbase has told her their countless stories of online bullying and the horrors of social media, it was important for her to allow them to feel represented in her music. While “Let Down Your Hair” did that, there was another song from Lynn’s LP that fit that narrative even better—”With Me.” The track spoke to her fanbase as well as the infinite number of people affected in some way by loss from suicide. After a spike in suicides at her high school, Lynn was inspired to not only write “With Me,” but to also push forward with two of her most committed projects. The first, Teen Lifeline, is an organization that advocates for suicide prevention and awareness.
“I worked with Teen Lifeline a lot in high school, because I lost a lot of classmates to suicide,” Lynn said. “I actually wrote the song [‘With Me’] dedicated to those who we have lost and to those who are struggling with mental illness or just in their everyday life. I intend to use my music to help those people and to make sure they know that they’re heard.”
The second organization Lynn spearheaded herself is Music as Therapy, which teaches the power of music as a therapeutic resource for disabled people.
“I was involved with best buddies in elementary school all the way to high school,” Lynn said. “I gained a lot of friendships with kids who were on the spectrum of Autism and who had Down syndrome. I saw the effect that music had on them. And I also saw that schools were losing a lot of funds for music therapy and all those classes.”
Lynn bravely stepped up and began asking for donations to save the programs. Her efforts soon became widely recognized in Phoenix and beyond.
“It kind of just became a success in Arizona,” she said. “It was also a lot of fun to co-perform with the kids in their music therapy sessions. I hope to continue that for the rest of my career and even after.”
In a current societal climate where mental illness, bullying and suicide is running rampant, Lynn sought out more ways to love her own life and spread some positivity by releasing fun and upbeat covers of some of her favorite songs like, “I’m Just A Girl,” by No Doubt and “Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber. It’s these small but mighty instances of hope that Lynn wants to continue to incorporate in her own life and within her fanbase. The world and Lynn’s music will be better for it, especially with a young fanbase who are seeking a role model. With a mix of upbeat pop and hope-filled messages, Lynn has proven to be that person for the next generation of pop fans. She has no dreams of grandeur for her career, she simply wants to be seen for who she is on a human level.
“I feel like a lot of artists now, that you just see on Instagram—it’s like their life is perfect,” Lynn said. “I hope when people hear my album, they know that I’m just like them. I go through my good days and bad days. I feel like my album has a variety of uplifting, sad and emotional music, and lots of stuff you can listen to and feel happy. I just want people to know that I’m a real person, and my music is for everyone.”