Cyril Jackson Senior Campus student Vanessa has high Hopes for her singing career


Vanessa Hopes has turned her life around to become a singer-songwriter and graphic designer.
Picture: Andrew Ritchie        d459600
Vanessa Hopes has turned her life around to become a singer-songwriter and graphic designer. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        d459600

A PASSION for music helped Embleton singer-songwriter Vanessa Hopes overcome a history of drugs and homelessness and now she wants to heal others through her first album Free.

Hopes, a music and graphic design student at Cyril Jackson Senior Campus in Bassendean, started using drugs aged 12 and left home at 14.

“We were breaking into empty buildings that were vacant for a while; sometimes the dust would be at least a centimetre on the floor,” she said.

“I had all these memories; it is actually really hard to deal with when you are there like that, having to sleep in those kinds of conditions.

“It was beg, borrow and steal from anyone, I did not care who it was. There is no honour among people who do drugs; you cannot trust anybody, all you can do is trust yourself.”

The 31-year-old said she had lost many memories from her teenage years and still suffered from memory loss.

“I was pretty much doing the wrong thing all the time and I just got sick of it,” she said.

“When I was about 16 or 17, that was when I started looking into music.

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“I knew I could sing. I ended up getting into the music side of things and I got into a band with my uncle.”

After her best friend’s death, she said her passion for music helped with her “healing”.

“I was always writing stuff down like lyrics and even poems,” she said. “Now I reflect back on the things I used to see, like the people I used to roll with, because I have seen people die.

“One of the lyrics is ‘the rooms are made of sweat and watch the blood drip down the walls’ because literally that was what I saw, smelled and felt.”

The mature-aged student first went to Cyril Jackson at 17 and returned as a “whole new person”.

“I was really bad on drugs and one of the teachers there, she is an arts teacher and she said, ‘you were really scary back then’,” she said.

“I feel like I get to influence the school in a positive way, in ways that maybe younger kids at the school may not understand.”

Hopes said her nine-year-old daughter inspired her music.

“I think since I had my daughter, it made me want to show her that it does not matter what you have been through, where you come from and what your experience is, you can make anything happen if you want it enough,” she said.

Hopes said her album was a mix of different genres and reflected her views as a woman.

“I felt like I accomplished what I set out to do and the whole process has made me even stronger,” she said.

Her album will be launched at The Game Sports Bar on Aberdeen Street on October 28 and will be released digitally.