“How has music shaped me as a person?…. Well, with all my medical conditions, where I felt different, out of place, music was there for me, it was my outlet. The albums of my favorite artists, I would just listen to because it made me feel not so alone. That’s the kind of music I want to make. Music gave my heart a different kind of compassion for people. Hearing the way they hurt and the way they write through their music, its like magic. The world needs music so badly. People need to connect and be understood. People just want to be heard and music gives that. It’s a voice for people.” – KENDALL RENEE
Meet twenty-two year old, Long Beach native, Singer/Song Writer, Kendall Renee as she shares her journey from her past competitive U.S. Figure Skating Days to becoming a full time recording artist. Read about her life struggles, where she gets her inspiration, and why having a strong work ethic is key for an Artist.
DK: Let’s start from the very beginning…How old were you when you started this storytelling journey?
KR: It’s kinda funny because both my Grandparents are in music. My Grandpa is a Gospel, Opera singer and my Grandma is a concert pianist. So I was always around music and I remember I use to just sit in their piano room and listen to them and be in awe because I thought it was so cool. So as a little kid I was always just singing, my parents actually joke that I never really shut up. I was always just singing something, Disney songs, or jumping on the coffee table and making up my own songs.
But what’s crazy about my story is for 13 years I was a competitive U.S. Figure Skater. That was my whole life and that’s what I put all my time into. So I didn’t get serious about music until I was about 13. I saved up and got my first guitar and spent hours and hours practicing, making my fingers bleed.
I took a lot of guitar lessons and vocal classes, lots of everything. I was lucky because through my schooling I actually had a guitar teacher but I also took other guitar lessons. And then just started picking up stuff as I went and I’m still actually learning every day. I love the guitar, it’s definitely my instrument for sure.
DK: How was your work ethic as a kid?
KR: Because I had such a love for Guitar & music I wanted to learn and get better. I would lock myself in my room for like hours & hours literally playing the same chords over and over again. Writing too. My first song I ever wrote was when I was like a kid..it was about Goblins or something. It was terrible lol. I didn’t know how to play an instrument then so I would write about random stuff and sing it to people. But once I got a guitar everything started clicking. Then I could put the songs to the music and then I was just obsessed with songwriting.
But I do think a lot of my work ethic comes from my years of figure skating because with that you are training 5 hours a day. You have Olympic coaches yelling at you to do it over and over again but I loved it. If it weren’t for figure skating I don’t think I could handle the music industry. Because figure skating taught me so much about literally falling and getting back up, over and over again. And now when I am in the studio and my producers tell me, “okay do another take”, it reminds me of my figure skating coach.
I strongly believe everything happens for a reason and I think my years on the ice were definitely getting me ready for life. It teaches you the constant grind and how to deal with rejection. Because there is so much of it but learning how to take it and not got offended by it but to try and use it to get better.
It is hard to know who to take that criticism & guidance from because they’re so many people that can steer you wrong but I’ve always used my faith to navigate that. And so far I’ve been really lucky. I have had to walk away from certain opportunities and it’s hard because they offer you everything…..but if something doesn’t feel right I always listen to that.
DK: Did you always know this was going to be your career path?
KR: It’s funny, I think i did! I think for a while I was so focused on skating but honestly the reason I did so well in skating were my points always came from music interpretation. It was always about music for me, I would just feel the music.
Growing up my biggest dream was to have my own album. I would go and by them (CDS) and say “I want one of these, I want my own album insert, this would be so cool!” So the day it finally happened, I was like crying my eyes out. So I always knew something was gonna happen with music. I just didn’t know what. I didn’t know how it was gonna play out but God did. Then it became my life.
I am pursuing music 100%. When I was 18 I was about to head off to college when I got offered my recording contract with Harmony Studios. After a lot of thought I decided to take a year off but one thing led to another and now I’m in it, full swing. I definitely think college is super important and I want to start online classes. I do believe for the music industry you have to be all the way in. You have to be flexible and available at all times. It’s hard, there’s a lot that I’ve had to give up but this is everything to me. So if something calls, I have to go. Sometimes it may be just one or two people listening but if that one person takes something from my music, and it reaches them, that’s the coolest thing ever to me.
Everyone always asks me what do I want to do with music and I’m always like, I just want to be able to go into a room where people want to listen to my music and make a living doing that. I think so many people get obsessed with the idea of fame and to me it kinda scares me, quite honestly. There’s so much that comes along with that. The people that I know that are going throught that right now, its wonderful, its everything they asked for but it also comes with giving up certain things. It’s like a blessing and a curse at the same time.
DK: Who are your inspirations?
KR: My grandparents of course and my dad. He doesn’t play any instruments but he would always play for me the classics like; Springsteen, Guns & Roses, Sheryl Crow, and lots of older music too…so I grew up listening to lots of different styles. To get me to stop crying my parents would put me in front of the television with CMT (Country Music Television) playing and I would just watch the music videos ( I still do that actually) and watch it for hours. Those musicians that I would watch & listen to, I remember going to the store and buying their CDs, look at their lyric sheets and just be so obsessed.
And I’m sure everyone figures this being a blonde with a guitar but my first idol was when I was 11 years old and when Taylor Swift’s first album came out. I was obsessed, I just couldn’t believe she named the guy in the song. You can’t do that! She’s risky and I like it! I had a little karaoke machine and I would play her album over and over again. It was cool to see a young girl who had been through so much rejection in the industry finally breaking through. It was just inspiring to me, to just keep at it. Then I just started studying different artists.
In order to make your own sound, your own artistry, you kinda have to watch a lot of different inspirations from all areas and take bits and pieces, things you like, things you don’t like and then create your own voice.
My biggest musical hero is Bruce Springsteen because of his storytelling. He can transport you to a different scene, a different time, you feel like you’re in a movie inside his head. The songs are so…ahh the imagery, the storytelling…that’s what I want to do so bad with my music. To just be able to really take people away from reality for a second and just hear a story.
Another big part of my story is my medical condition. I’m like allergic to 95% of all foods, which is why I have a feeding tube where I get most of my nutrition. And because of that I wasn’t able to go to regular school. I had Home/Hospital school where the teachers would go to my house and teach for five hours a day. Once I got to high school and had electives, I wanted guitar so they found a guitar teacher, two actually that were amazing. It was such a great feeling to have two different people in music that I looked up to guiding me along; and they also took a listen to the songs I had written and they didn’t have to take the time to do that, but they did. And they always kept encouraging me. I still till this day whenever something happens in my career that I am really excited about I always like try to send them a message let them know I’m still at it.
DK: Who’s your biggest supporter?
KR: My mom and Dad! My mom is my ride or die roadie and because of my medical condition I usually always have to have someone with me. Its hard on my mom, she’s going everywhere with me but my parents have always been ride or die and I’m so lucky. A lot of people don’t have that. And of course my grandparents. And my small group of friends who have always supported me and believed in me even when I didn’t really believe in myself. Also the owners & producers of this studio have been huge supporters of my career.
DK: What are some obstacles you’ve come across?
KR: The biggest obstacle is just never giving up. I have had a lot of opportunities that were super exciting & promising, literally made it to the final step but things fell through. In the beginning I would get super sad but now I’ve kinda gotten use to it.
Another hard thing would be staying true to who you are. People will try to steer you wrong if you let them and I think my faith plays the biggest role in that because I know who I answer to and I know who controls everything that happens, so I’m not as worried about it.
DK: What do you hope your audience takes away from your music?
KR: I want people to get from my music is that its okay to be different. My first album was called Original because I really wanted people to know, because I grew up different that its okay to be the odd man out. So I just want those people who feel out of place, like they don’t belong, to hear my songs and be like, “Oh! Me too!”. That’s my biggest goal…is for those people to feel understood.
DK: Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
KR: The goal is just to show up to rooms and there be people there that actually want to hear me play. Or dogs, I’ll take that too. I don’t care what happens with having hits, obviously that’s the goal but its the people that my music impacts. When I get to see that happen I get chills every time. To have someone take something from what I said and be like a gospel to them, to help get them through something….To have them sing your lyrics. ..It brings people together for music. That’s what its all about.
DK: What do you like to for fun?
KR: Music … I have no life. My dog Lola, that sounds so sad. Lol. I love being active lik running or working out. I love church. It’s a huge part of my life. Bible study. Music is my job but it’s also my hobby. I love going to concerts.
DK: If you could open up for anyone who it be?
KR: Springsteen, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Forrest Black. People that I listen to everyday.
DK: If you can play anywhere in the world?
KR: The Grand Ole Opry, that’s my biggest dream ever. If that ever happens I will cry my eyes out. They actually let you stand on stage and take a picture but I was so mad because you have to be invited to me, it’s holy ground. I mean Johnny Cash was there, you can’t just walk on it. You have to earn that.
DK: Can you tell us about your new album and what to expect?
KR: It’s’ so exciting! I haven’t released anything in two years. There’s a lot more upbeat stuff and typical stuff I write like inspirational messages. The heart of where my music comes from is Country but the actual music has more of a folky sound with a splash of pop. And this album has a lot more sassy stuff. Where life kinda just comes out. And the sassier side of me comes out too. Me dealing with mean peopple and the truth coming out.
I always get my inspiration from the seasons in my life. When things are going really hard, a lot of the songs stem from that. That’s what makes a good writer and artist, you have to go through stuff. If someone hasn’t experienced life like the ups and downs, you can’t write about anything or anything people can relate to. It was hard to write those songs because its emotional. You just have to be truthfully.
I have a new single coming out called Future and it’s gonna be out in the next month or so. I also have music video in the works for another song called Better is coming.
Checkout snippets of Kendall Renee’s new music below!
Don’t forget to stay connected with Kendall!
Listen to Kendall’s music on platforms such as; iTunes, Spotify, and Apple Music!
If you live in Southern, California, check out Kendall performing at Downtown Disney!