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Ole Miss. Homecoming Queen Rocks Out


We are going to turn now to a regular feature we call In Your Ear. That's where some of our guests tell us about the songs that inspire them. Today, we'll hear from Courtney Roxanne Pearson. Last fall, she was crowned Homecoming Queen at the University of Mississippi - Ole Miss - the first African-American student to have that honor. Her selection was also noteworthy because Pearson is a larger-sized young woman, something she said she was teased about when she was younger and she told us about some of the music that helped her overcome that and go on to triumph.


JUSTIN BIEBER: (Singing) I know how I got here.

COURTNEY ROXANNE PEARSON: My name is Courtney Pearson. I am the 2012 first African-American homecoming queen at the University of Mississippi. What's playing in my ear is Justin Bieber, "Believe."


BIEBER: (Singing) Just look at me now 'cause everything starts from something, but something would be nothing, nothing if your heart didn't dream with me.

PEARSON: It took an incredible amount of faith to be able to do something so courageous as running for homecoming queen and there's a lot of people that had to believe in me.


PEARSON: Another song playing in my ear is Jason Mraz, "I Won't Give Up," and that's because it took an incredible amount of faith to make sure that I didn't give up on my dream and that the University of Mississippi didn't give up on me.


JASON MRAZ: (Singing) And, in the end, you're still my friend. At least, we did intend for us to work. We didn't break, we didn't burn. We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in. I had to learn what I got and what I'm not and who I am. I won't give up on us, even if...


PEARSON: The last song in my ear is "Put On" because I believe that I'm really representing my city, being from Memphis, Tennessee, and really representing my university.


YOUNG JEEZY: (Singing) I put on for my city. On, on for my city. I put on for my city. On, on for my city. Put on.

MARTIN: That was Courtney Roxanne Pearson. She was elected, last fall, Homecoming Queen of Ole Miss, telling us what's playing in her ear. If you want to listen to our previous conversation with her from last fall, just head to npr.org, click on the Programs tab and then TELL ME MORE.


JEEZY: (Singing) Put on, south side. Put on, west side. Put on.

MARTIN: Just ahead, it's bad enough that two teenaged boys allegedly had sex with a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio, who was apparently too drunk to know what was happening to her, but then they bragged about it to their friends, posting video, tweets and photographs of the incident online. We talk with a roundtable of parents and an expert on teen development for their perspectives on what's behind that behavior. Is social media pushing kids toward riskier and riskier antics or just recording what's already there? That's ahead on TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin.


MARTIN: If you tried to get a bank loan to start a small business in 2012, you might have heard something like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You don't have any track record. You don't have any money, so we're not going to give you any.

MARTIN: We'll have solutions for small business owners for the new year and your questions. That's next time on TELL ME MORE.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.