Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, Renee Blair wasn’t always a country fan, she tells New York Country Swag in our most recent interview. Yes, the Dixie Chicks, Shania Twain, and Tanya Tucker, of course, played a big part in her childhood, but ultimately The Spice Girls and even the rise of Nelly really cultivated her love for performing. After taking voice lessons and dance classes her entire childhood, Blair knew that there was no plan B for her career, she was going to be an artist. “I had to be perfecting my voice and my performance and I was really addicted to music. I’ve never even thought about the fact that my life was meant to do something else. As much as I loved the popstars and that music, I definitely think I picked the right genre, the way that country music tells stories, I think I finally have a story to tell,” she explains.
Her story includes moving to Nashville when she was right out of high school, two tragic accidents within the same year, and a regrowth period that now involves mega producer and songwriter Shane McAnally. After moving to town, she, like so many people, thought that with her abilities, she would have an overnight success story, but looking back now realizes that her trials and tribulations with life and pursuing the career doesn’t always go as planned. A car accident and then a boating accident which left her arm paralyzed for 6 months, changed her perspective and left her wondering where her place was in the music industry. “I kind of went through a few years of questioning life and myself and my purpose, moving to Nashville for this dream and now I was just known as the accident girl and music was what really kept me going and as corny as it sounds, it made me want to wake up in the morning and try to get better,” she tells us.
The little girl from St. Louis who rocked a piece of tape on her cheek in homage to Nelly while in Catholic school laughs as she explains how Nelly’s rise to stardom influences her music today. “I think it is a huge testament to where music is right now, it’s becoming very cross-genre. I think it’s awesome,” she says of his recent collaboration with Florida Georgia Line. “The fans are the best judgment, they just like good music and they don’t care what you call it and I think it is a great way to just bring everyone together.”
Her debut single, released earlier this year, “Gotta Quit Drinkin'” is as real life as it gets and definitely has that R&B vibe while telling a story. Blair explains that mistakes she has made over the past couple of years with ex-boyfriends only happen after she’s had that second or third drink. “All day long I never text this dude, but as soon as I have my second drink my thumbs go wild and I’m all ‘Where are you’ and ‘I miss you’,” she laughs. After it became a running joke with her friends, she took the experience that is completely relatable into the writing room one day and “Gotta Quit Drinkin” was written. “We definitely told the truth and in songwriting it is all you can ask for, every word of that I did and I lived it, there are other songs that I’ve written that might have better radio success but this is a great representation of where I’ve been at, its authentic to my story,” Blair says.
Blair is working on her debut EP which is being produced by Shane McAnally and released by SMACK Songs. McAnally who has worked closely with country megastars such as Sam Hunt, Old Dominion, Kacey Musgraves and has written hits for tons of other artists is helping to shape the music Blair is releasing. One interesting anecdote that she explains is how he caters his talents to each artist individually, helping to keep each sound unique. “He helps to bring a light to the artist and pull out the best parts of them, he has really helped me tap into myself and asked me questions that I haven’t even thought about,” she says of her working relationship with the producer. “He is a great person, with all of the success that someone has had, he is still kind to people and works really hard, he is so kind and I think the world of him.”
She already has an album’s worth of songs that she has written and is working to record new music and hopefully release a few tracks later this fall. She is opening for Billy Currington in October on three of his Texas dates. “I am so excited to do those dates, I’ve been in the writing mode for 2-3 years so I am so excited to get the music out to the fans and start playing it all,” Blair says of finally getting on the road.
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