“’Raised Right’ is a swampy representation of who I am as an artist,” says 24-year old 2021 CMT Next Women of Country class member Reyna Roberts about her soulful, just-released single that comes after a year wherein she’s toured with Jamey Johnson, been tabbed to play 2022’s scheduled Stagecoach Festival, plus been featured on CMT’s Giants: Charley Pride alongside Luke Combs and Robert Randolph during a performance of the country groundbreaker’s 1971 hit “Kiss An Angel Good Morning.”
When pressed to describe exactly who and what she is as an artist in one statement, she pauses. “Let me ask you a question, then,” she says. An artist interviewing an interviewer is unique but not unprecedented. “Do you mean, who is ’the artist Reyna Roberts, or who is the Reyna Roberts beneath the artist,’ she asks quizzically. She continues, “If you want to know who I am when I wake up in the morning, well, she is blessed and grateful to have the support of her friends, family, and her team as well, [my career] has been growing these days, by leaps and bounds.”
After searching for words in finishing her answer, she pauses and takes a deep breath as if to focus her point with a definitive exclamation. Upon finding one, she says it:
“Reyna Roberts wants to conquer the world.”
Roberts’ rise is closely tied to the idea that she’s an assertive self-starter with show-stealing, powerhouse vocals who is now slowly beginning the process of self-actualizing her core humanity. She’s now also doing this while simultaneously quickly learning the ropes of mainstream country music’s industry. It’s a combination that she’s cognizant of and able to discuss, too.
“So many firsts have happened for me, she exclaims while breaking down her whirlwind past two years. “My debut single, ”67 Winchester,’ became a radio single, then I had my first sync with ESPN, for [2020-released single] ’Stomping Grounds.'” She describes the former as a “simple” piano ballad demo that she uploaded to Spotify on a whim. As for the latter, she notes it was a “hard rocker” that she found her groove within “rather quickly.”
However, in the year that has passed since “Stomping Grounds,” several positive artistic and personal steps have occurred that allows for the following lyrics to emerge in “Raised Right” that showcases how she’s more “locked in” to her hopes and aspirations for music industry success:
“I’m a little bit of whiskey in my sweet tea/ I’m a little bit of city in my country/ A little hell yeah in my hallelujah…I got a little bit of wrong in my raised right”
Weeks after watching having a moment while watching Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker and feeling inspiration strike, Roberts sat down with songwriters Danny Myrick and Kylie Sackley over Zoom and exclaimed, “Y’all, I have this idea called ’Raised Right.’ here are some lyrics and the melody I have in my head.” sharing Roberts’ excitement, the talented duo set about helping the performer craft the eventual single.
For Roberts, “Raised Right” symbolizes her “growth and evolution” as a songwriter. Not that she’s impatient, but the ability to seamlessly combine her strong talents in idea development with heavily seasoned creatives able to flesh her ideas into songs that bear the polish that only veteran tunesmiths can provide is testament to her ability to trust the process of growing into her potential stardom.
“I used to use stories from TV and movies I’d watch for inspiration. Then, I’d write songs, but I absolutely wouldn’t put myself into the stories those songs were trying to tell, because I didn’t think I had a lot of interesting things about myself to put into songs,” Roberts offers. However, her latest material reflects a matured desire to be more introspective, honest, and willing to reveal her own story in her material. “Now I’m comfortable with opening up and sharing things about myself because I want my fans to be able to relate to me more while also developing into a stronger artist.”
When asked to divulge a story that’s emerged in song form for her of late, she discusses her youth and frequently moving nationwide and how that played into “Raised Right”’s development in the writing room. “When I moved from Alabama to California, that’s where the ’a little bit of city in my country’ came from. I have an accent, so when I switched schools, my classmates, they had to adjust to the fact that I say ’y’all.’ Plus I dressed differently than they did, and I eventually picked up a little of how they dressed and spoke, too.”
As noted earlier, it’s not an understatement to say that her voice combines the gritty countrified soul of Gretchen Wilson with the angelic bombast of Christina Aguilera. However, a tool without purpose is merely a useless object. The key to an intelligent, motivated artist like Roberts working with veteran songwriters is that it allows for her smarts and her instrument to combine forces finally. Whereas her previous singles articulated her promise, “Raised Right” offers a glimpse into her ability to create an impact that offers the promise of her growth in Nashville’s industry.
Even deeper, when asked about what she looks forward to moving ahead, she offers a mantra-like answer that both highlights her love of the stage and also her laser-like focus on actualizing her lifelong goals for music industry acclaim:
“When I’m on the stage these days — just like it says in ’Raised Right’ — I’m definitely getting ’baptized under the neon lights.’ I’m thinking, ’I am made for this. While spending four hours a day, practicing in front of my mirror, this is what I was dreaming of doing. I prepared my whole life for this. This is what I’m created for. I’m supposed to be under these lights.'”