Update: Sad news today as we received this statement from Olivia’s cousin, Jeff Kassel: “I regret to inform you that Olivia Wise has passed away this afternoon on Monday, November 25, 2013. She died peacefully in her home surrounded by the extraordinary love of her family.
I wanted to thank you for helping to add to her legacy and memorial and for drawing attention to the LivWiseFund.com.
Thank you so much for all that you have done.”;
The same day Olivia was in the studio recording “Roar,”; the inspiring young girl also recorded an a cappella version of song she wrote when she was 11 called “Simple Girl”;.
Watch the video below.
Katy Perry shared her condolences to the family tweeting:
Olivia Wise, I can hear you singing with the angels now. Your spirit & strength has inspired me & so many others… May you rest in peace.
— Katy Perry (@katyperry) November 26, 2013
Terminally ill 16-year-old Olivia Wise has brain cancer. Since a video of her covering Katy Perry’s “Roar”; surfaced online in September, Olivia has been hailed as a fighter, the girl who stole Katy Perry’s heart after Katy posted her own message to Olivia and one helluva singer. Her video, which was shot at Toronto’s Orange Lounge recording studio, has now garnered more than 650,000 views on YouTube.
The idea for the video came from Olivia’s cousin, Jeff Kassel, who enlisted the help of Canadian producer-songwriter and friend Jon Levine. In the video, the 16-year-old is seated in a wheelchair to cover the song because Olivia can no longer walk or stand, and doesn’t have her full breath or energy. The last line on her YouTube page says that “While her physical condition was rapidly fading, her spirit remained untouched,”; and you can see in full effect during the video when this amazing young woman sings the line “”Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar,”; with a smile that lights up the room. The cover video is a visual reminder of Olivia’s positivity and spirit which touched our hearts deeply so we reached out to Olivia’s cousin, Jeff Kassel, to tell us more about his courageous cousin.
Olivia has always been a joyful, ambitious, positive girl with a great sense of humour who loved to sing, not with the hopes of being a pop star, but for the joy of it. When she was diagnosed with Brain Cancer just after her 15th birthday in January 2012, she didn’t let the grim prognosis or the wearing treatments change her spirit. She focused on the positive and kept on singing. As her treatments proved to be ineffective against the cancer and her deterioration was becoming apparent, a sense of urgency set in to have her recorded properly and to give her the experience of being in a real recording studio.
When L.A. Producer Jon Levine (X-Factor, Nelly Furtado, Cher Lloyd, K’Naan, Bono, Emblem3, Serena Ryder) heard about Olivia’s situation and love for music, he made sure to come to Toronto and arrange for her to record at The Orange Lounge studio. No one was sure that Olivia’s health would be strong enough for her to make the session and since she was unable to practice or learn a new song, she was asked for a list of songs that she liked. Katy Perry, one of Olivia’s favourite artists, song “Roar”; was on the list. Olivia would later say that the song just spoke to her. What people can’t see when they hear her recording, is that she was confined to a wheel chair, which was new to her just a few days earlier, or that she was having troubles breathing, or that her left hand wouldn’t move. You can’t hear the pain that she was managing too, but you wouldn’t notice that even if you were in the room with her.
For those who have never been in a recording studio, it can be a very nerve racking affair. You have to sing in front of strangers who are staring at you and listening critically to your every mistake and telling you to do it again and again. It’s even harder with no rehearsal and just a short time to record in, not to mention not having your full voice or breath, or even being able to stand and deliver for that matter. But Olivia is a battle hardened fighter and everything going against her just rolled off her back as she gave it her best, and did it with a smile (along with the always incredible encouragement of her mother, Kari and sister’s Sabrina and Kaily). Gracious and humble she was thankful for her experience and after Levine’s tasteful and unique arrangement was added, the video was posted to YouTube for Olivia and friends and family to enjoy, and that was that.
But that wasn’t the end, the video started getting passed around and going viral. People were being inspired and loving Olivia’s voice and story. Word was getting back to Katy Perry from friends and strangers alike prompting her video response to Olivia .The attention that the video has received and Katy’s message to Olivia has provided much positivity and excitement during such a difficult time for Olivia and her loved ones. It has helped give Olivia a legacy of inspiration to thousands of people around the world and is drawing attention to the Liv Wise Fund raising money for Brain Tumour Research so that others may be saved from the disease that Olivia has so bravely been fighting.
Since recording the song, Olivia’s family says that her health has greatly deteriorated and that she is now drifting in and of consciousness. “She’s at the end,”; Jeff told CNN. “She is still conscious at times and taking it all in.”;
The Liv Wise Fund, started in her honour to support brain tumour research, has a goal of $150,000. You can help by donating here.