Teen who overcame health struggles releases inspiring song to spread hope during pandemic


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A 14-year-old singer wants to spread a positive message during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Former Savannah resident Makayla Oates recently showcased her strong vocals in a new song, “I’m Free.”

The teen tells WSAV.com NOW that she recorded the uplifting song in the studio just a day before the coronavirus-related shutdowns began.

“It’s just showing that through this pandemic, we are free and that no matter what we’re going through, depression, any type of feeling like, ‘I have nobody to talk to, I can’t reach out to anybody,’ just know that we’re free,” said the North Carolina native, who now lives in Orlando with her family.

“This is the time that we can come to God, speak to him and just find our way to Christ, because this is what this pandemic is really all about,” Makayla said. 

The talented young vocalist, who spent three years living in Savannah, says she’s passionate about touching others through music.

”I feel like that’s my ministry, and that’s the way that I’m going to reach and do my destiny for God,” she shared. 

Makayla hopes her new track touches those that have been impacted by the pandemic in some form or another.

She says the gift of song has been with her “since the womb” — but that wasn’t all that was given to her as her mother brought her into the world. 

“I was born with cerebral palsy, and once I recovered from that, I had hearing difficulties in both ears,” Makayla said. “They told me that I wouldn’t be able to walk, talk, hear, none of that.”

Incredibly, she significantly recuperated from both issues after two years.

Today, there doesn’t appear to be any lingering signs of her earlier health struggles — and nothing holding her back from living life as a normal 14-year-old kid.

“Now, I’m playing basketball, I’m playing volleyball and singing!” Makayla said.

“It was like a 1-in-1,000 chance that would ever happen, so the fact that I’m still here, it’s like a miracle from God,” she said. “Nothing else could’ve happened but God.”

The lyrics to “I’m Free,” written by Makayla’s former church music minister, have a special and personal meaning to her own journey. 

“There’s a part in the song, ‘the devil tried to kill me young,’” Makayla said.

“By [my minster] watching me grow, it’s crazy how he took my story and put it in a song that just really blossomed and showed how I’ve grown as a child growing up to a teenager,” said Makayla, who’s been doing her part to help her community by sewing face masks. 

The optimistic teen says she wants everyone to “hang in there” as they ride out this difficult period.

“This pandemic is not going to last forever, it has an expiration date,” Makayla said. 

“We’re going to make it through this and even through tough times, we’re free, and God has the final say,” she said. 

Listen to Makayla Oates’ song, “I’m Free,” below.

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