On February 14, 2018, country music songstress Liddy Clark was much like countless other college students, attending the University of Southern California. She had left her Parkland, Florida, hometown to pursue an education across the country. She was taking a full load of classes that kept her quite busy. And on that particular Wednesday, she was craving an afternoon nap.

So, she laid down and fell asleep. When she awoke, her whole world — really, the whole world — had changed.

"I remember being so upset,” Clark tells Taste of Country of the moment she learned there had been a mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Seventeen people were killed that day. "Up until then, no one knew where Parkland was, and now, someone had gone and tried to ruin the safest place I knew. I was terrified."

Yet, like so many other resilient young people, Clark went and conquered her fear by standing up, speaking out and singing loudly. She returned to her hometown of Parkland on Saturday, June 6, to perform at the Wear Orange: Healing Through Harmony concert — a youth event honoring survivors and communities affected by gun violence.

"It was really amazing to be a part of such an incredible cause," says Clark, who in the past has performed alongside artists like Chris Stapleton, Scotty McCreery, Jake Owen and Jerrod Niemann. "So many people were there talking about their pain. Of course, there are so many parents and teachers and people in the community that are still hurting."

At the event, Clark performed an original song called "Won't Be Shot Down," a song that she wrote in the months following the tragic event. "After the shooting, I had a lot of feelings pent up, but I wanted to make sure I got it right so I waited for three months," she says. "I went on a writing retreat and I forced myself to write about it, and for 20 minutes I couldn’t stop writing. It just made me feel complete to get all of those feelings out. It’s obvious that this not just another song. Actually getting to perform it at the Healing through Harmony event was a big thing for me, because I’m still not centered emotionally about the whole situation.”

And while the healing is sure to take a long time, Clark says she finds inspiration through the young activists who are speaking up regarding gun violence.

"Many of the students that are out there speaking up are the same kids I went to theatre camp with," Clark says. "They are very educated and very passionate about what they have to say and what they believe in. It’s just sad that we can’t be kids anymore."

It’s also sad that Clark and so many others who call Parkland home won't be able to see their town without those painful memories of that tragic day in February. "When I came back for Spring Break, there was still such a looming sadness,” Clark says quietly. "There are memorial flower beds all over town serving as sad reminders of what happened. My little brothers best friend went to school and he’s terrified to go to school. This will forever change my hometown."

Clark's new EP, Testing the Waters, is coming later this summer.

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