“For me, it wasn’t a decision,” says rising country singer Reyna Roberts. “I’ve always known that I was going to be an artist. I’ve always known I was going to be a singer. That’s all I’ve ever done; it’s the love of my life.” Roberts has confidence paired with incredible enthusiasm and determination; the kind of grit needed to be a star. After releasing her single “Stompin’ Grounds,” which has over half a million streams on Spotify, her talent caught the attention of many including Carrie Underwood and Mickey Guyton. This year, she was named as a part of CMT’s Next Women of Country class of 2021 and was booked as an opening act for Jamey Johnson’s tour.
Roberts was born in Alaska to military parents. She also spent the years of her youth in California and Alabama. She was a premature baby and her parents were encouraged to play music to help with her growth. “They played different genres for me every week. So they would play country, they would play rock another week, and then they would play classical, pop; they would play blues. They would play everything to help with my speech development,” she explains. “That’s why I love so many different genres of music and why I’ve been influenced by so many different voices.” She also cites Gretchen Wilson and The Chicks as being the soundtrack to her childhood because they were her mom’s favorite artists.
Roberts recalls a conversation with her parents where they told her that she was humming and singing before she even spoke her first words. “I can’t remember a moment in my life when I wasn’t singing,” she tells us. “I never really second-guessed being able to sing. I never wondered if I was bad at singing. I’ve always just done it, and people responded great. So I’ve never questioned myself.”
Despite her young age, she has a strong conviction. She knows who she is and she knows what she wants. Even though her positive attitude sparkles through her tone, she still notes that she’s shy, and always has been. When she was little, a woman heard her singing in a clothing store, approached her, and asked if she could listen. Roberts was hesitant and scared but was encouraged by her mom. “After singing and talking to the lady, my mom was like ‘Whenever somebody asks you to sing, you need to sing. You need to do it.’ From that moment on, I always sing everywhere,” she exclaims excitedly.
Music was the clear path for Roberts, but she did go to college. It was never seen as a backup plan through her eyes, she just loved to learn and had an interest in psychology. When people would ask her what she wanted to be, she would respond with a simple answer: a famous singer. “When I say famous singer, it’s because I wanna have songs that are so great, that they outlive me,” she says. “Some people would be like, ‘Do you have a plan B?’ And I’m like, why would I have a plan B?”
Her latest single “Raised Right” came to her while watching Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in the movie theatre with her family. “Kylo Ren is a favorite character of mine, and when I was watching his scenes I remember thinking of the title ‘Raised Right’ and I was like, wait a second, that sounds really cool. That could be a great song,” she tells us. She wrote a few lines, came up with possible melodies in her head, and then presented the idea to her co-writers Danny Myrick and Kylie Sackley over their first Zoom write; they loved it and went for it. Roberts describes the new track as something that’s “genuinely about her” and “Gretchen Wilson wild.”
Photo by Chelsea Thompson
All of the lyrics are authentically Roberts. One specific line that she has a story for is, “I’m a little whiskey in my sweet teeth.” The lyric comes from a time when she was battling a horrid cold. Her dad told her to put whiskey in sweet tea, drink it before she goes to bed, get wrapped up in blankets, sweat it out, and hopefully feel refreshed in the morning. She ended up putting in too much whiskey. “I ended up drunk. I was just drunk and sick. I did not feel better, I didn’t sweat anything out,” she says through a laugh. “Raised Right” shows Roberts’ knack for translating real anecdotes from her life into autobiographical, rockin,’ country music.
A few weeks ago, Roberts had the chance to perform at Watershed Music Festival. She’s also set to perform at Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is in the lineup for the 2022 Stagecoach Music Festival taking place in Indio, California next year. Even with her busy schedule, Roberts is in the midst of creating an EP.
She recently performed with Luke Combs for the TV special CMT Giants: Charley Pride. Together, they sang Pride’s biggest hit “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin;’” they both sang vocals with Roberts also on the piano. “He’s one of my favorite artists and he’s actually the first artist that I’ve ever performed with which is insane to me,” she says. “I feel like things are coming full circle.”
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