Interview with Singer-songwriter, Briana Renea
Singer-songwriter, Briana Renea, is using her musical talent as a platform to benefit others and bring a message of social responsibility and accountability to school students. Via the Social Acceptance Public Service Ambassador tour (FREE concerts for schools), Briana Renea will be performing her original music and bringing awareness on important subjects to schools, their students/families/communities like social acceptance, eliminating bullying, juvenile diabetes, childhood obesity and self-harm. She took a break from her busy tour schedule to tell us more about it.
What first drew you into music as a career? Did you have a musical mentor?
When I was four years old I took the stage in a local Portland, Oregon play with my brother. To this day I still have a huge love for the stage. From playing Jasmine in my middle school's Aladdin to my high school summer plays and talent shows, I found every opportunity to be on stage. I have been singing my whole life. I've performed the National Anthem at county fairs and rodeos, at FFA's State Convention, and numerous other events. Placing third in my FFA State Convention talent show was just the beginning of my music career.
During my junior year of high school I began training with Barbizon where I began to conquer my goals in becoming an actress and singer. After finishing Barbizon's training I auditioned for IPAS and was asked to come to Los Angeles to perform in front of the industries' top agents and managers. My goal of launching my music career through this showcase is exactly what happened; I qualified for the final showcase at the end of the convention and was able to perform in front of all of the agents, managers, and participants.
I released my first EP, "Red Lips White Lies," in May 2015. On this EP, I collaborated with great Nashville writers, Cort Carpenter, Jason Wyatt, and Tony George. I have been blessed to work with such a wonderful and experienced group of writers. Songwriters like Steve Mitchell, Dee Briggs, Mason Douglas, and Jason Wyatt have helped shape and guide my music.
I have had a few major mentors in my life. The first and the biggest to me was Gregory Jones. He was my first vocal coach and is the reason I am as tough and dedicated as I am today. Gregory was the coach that got me ready to perform in front of the biggest agents and managers at the IPAS Showcase. He believed in me when I first started out and saw in me then what has taken me years to see in myself. He pushes me to be great even when I don't see him for years at a time, I always hear him in the back of my head encouraging me. Another is producer, Jason Wyatt. He got me started writing and introduced me to some of the most amazing writers I know. He helped me find and create my voice from my writing all the way through to the studio.
Tell us about your new single, “Unstoppable,” did you write the song and what is the story behind it?
I co-wrote this song with one of my good friends, Steve Mitchell. I started this song about a year and a half ago but ended up setting it aside. I had this idea for the chorus but got stuck on what I wanted the verses to say so I ended up not getting it finished until earlier this year. Recently, I was in need of a song that would help inspire people and deliver a positive message. I completely forgot about this song until I went looking through my catalog of songs and stumbled on the rough work tape of, "Unstoppable." I immediately sent the idea over to Steve and said can you help me finish this song? Steve and I sat down for a writing session and reworked the chorus a little to get the hook to sing perfectly and then began working on the verses. It took two writing sessions to finish the song but when it was done I was thrilled with how it turned out. My hope for this song was to help listeners feel like they aren't alone and to let them know that if you set your mind to something you can do it. I wanted people to hear "Unstoppable" and say "I can do it!" Or on a bad day know that someone somewhere is feeling the same way. I hope that when listeners hear "Unstoppable" they will be inspired. This song is about life and the ups and downs it throws at you and if you put your mind to it you can be a force of nature and be unstoppable.
Tell me about your Teens of America PSA school tour? What exactly does a school tour involve? How many schools will you visit?
Via the Social Acceptance Public Service Ambassador tour (FREE concerts for schools), I will be performing my original music and bringing awareness on important subjects to schools, their students/families/communities like social acceptance, eliminating bullying, juvenile diabetes, childhood obesity and self-harm. Many media outlets will also be stops on the tour. Schools can pre-register as a tour stop at http://teensofamerica.net/ .
The musical Ambassadors of Teens Of America and The Obesity Revolution, serve as celebrity influencers for schools, students and their families. Our Celebrity musical Ambassadors serve as the added voices to TOA Founder, Sean Mulroney. These amazing artists will be touring schools seeking student pledges for joining the Revolution for social acceptance and positive lifestyle choices. The goal is to reduce bullying, social shaming and act as mentors to aid the students forwardly. These amazing artists will join our headline artists in making history on the The National Day of Awareness for positive lifestyle adoption. I am very blessed to have written the theme song for the 2018-2019 Teens of America PSA tour. The program is still in its infancy. We have just begun the registration process and are just starting the routing as well.
Do you see yourself as a mentor to younger female artists?
I myself am a young female artist, but really try to be a positive role model for all the girls and boys I meet while I'm out on the road. Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating and I take that very seriously when I am performing. I am always very family friendly, and make sure that I take the time to talk to everyone, even the really little ones. Children are so special and easily influenced and that is so precious. Over the last few years I have met many young girls and boys and to this day there are two that have touched my life in such a way I never imagined possible because of how I influenced them. A little two year old girl saw a show of mine three years ago and after that show begged her mother to take singing lessons. Two years after that she came to my show at the same venue and told me that she started singing because of me. Another little girl comes to every show in her area and asked her mom to start singing lessons so she could learn to sing my songs. I am still finding mentors and learning from others myself, but I will always try and help mentor and influence others when and where I can.
Do you have a favorite place to eat when you are in Nashville? What do you order?
When I travel to Nashville I am almost always running from one place to another. I do always make time to stop and get coffee at The Well, they make a great latte. The last time I was in Nashville though I was lucky enough to have dinner at The Palm. This was by far one of the best restaurants I’ve eaten at in Nashville. I’m not very brave when I go out to eat and tend to stick with my chicken caesar salads. The salad was fantastic there, as well as their loaded mashed potatoes and spinach dip.
Do you prefer to cook at home or go out to eat?
Both actually. You can only eat out so much. Cooking at home and trying new recipes is fun when I can fit it in.
Is there an ingredient you are really enjoying cooking with at the moment?
I really enjoy pesto, artichokes, and spinach right now.
Where do you get your recipes? Any favorite cookbooks?
Most of my recipes come from random google searches or family/friends. I would have to say that my favorite cookbook is the “little blue box on the counter." It’s not really a cookbook, but it has all of our favorite family recipes and recipes that have been passed down through the generations and collected to share with everyone.
If you could be on a reality cooking show, what would it be?
I’m actually not much of a reality TV show girl. However I have seen a few clips from the show, "Guy’s Grocery Games," and I think that would be a fun show to be on. Since I am not the most experience or creative of a cook I think I would enjoy this show and style of competition. Having to search in a grocery store not under a time crunch is hard enough as is, it would be even harder and more entertaining to do it timed. Guy seems like such a character and I appreciate the fact that the show is fairly clean. This kind of competition seems like something I could last through at least one round through.
Besides the new music and school tour, what else are you looking forward to in 2018?
Music takes up a big portion of my time but I still find time to squeeze in school and showing my horse. I am very excited that starting in April I will be entering Pro-School for my Marketing degree and will be about a year out form graduating OSU with a BS in Marketing and minor in Psychology.
On the music side of things I look forward to more trips to Nashville. I also learned that I have been nominated as the Country Female Artist of the Year & my album, "Chasin' Trouble," as Country Album of the Year by the International Music and Entertainment Association (IMEA) for 2018! I am extremely excited to find out the results in June.
I am also very excited to start showing my horse in the Western States Stock Horse Association again. Our first show is in May and I am thrilled to be back in the show pen. This is my stress relief. My horse can make almost anything better!
Finally, if you could be sponsored by one food/drink brand who would it be and why?
Kern’s Peach Nectar- I TRY to eat healthy which is a little challenging when I am on the road. When I perform though, I almost always have Kern’s on stage with me. They really seem to help coat my throat for the better when I am singing. My band really loves them too, so we have the ice chest full of those, Gatorade, and water.
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