Passion for Music Pushes Local Musician Out of Comfort ZoneSep 12, 2018
19-year-old Norman singer/songwriter Addie Renee´ remembers with being six-years-old when her passion for music bloomed into colorful life. That passion is now on display for the world to see with the release of her first three songs, recorded recently in Nashville. The songs are available on Apple Music, YouTube, and Spotify.
“I remember growing up watching Ellie Holcomb perform,” said Reneé, “She’s a really good family friend of ours, and I decided that I wanted to do what she was doing.”
The six-year-old picked up her first guitar and taught herself how to strum on a beat.
“That’s the hardest thing to do,” said Reneé. “After that, I would just watch people play and then figure out how to move my fingers to recreate what I had seen and heard.”
It helped a lot that Reneé’s father, Scott Hennigan, was on Young Life staff. Being a part of a family involved in that outreach ministry meant she was around a lot of guitar players, whether she was at one of Young Life’s popular summer camps and hanging around volunteer Young Life leaders in Norman.
“I took one lesson from a Young Life leader,” said Reneé. “She taught me four chords, and I took it from there.
Reneé wrote her first song when she was 12-years-old, inspired by a Taylor Swift performance. She says songwriting quickly became the easiest way for her to express all of the emotions and thoughts she was experiencing as she grew up.
“I had a lot of things to say, and I just didn’t know how to say them,” said Reneé, “But when I picked up a guitar and started to play, I knew what to say. It wasn’t hard anymore. So I started writing songs about the things that were going on, what I was thinking, things that were hard or not so hard, and just coming up with ways to say them better.”
She has a songbook filled close to 40 songs but is quick to admit that some of them aren’t very good.
“A twelve-year-old isn't necessarily going to be a good songwriter,” said Reneé, “So I do have a lot of songs that honestly I don't know where they came from.”
Fortunately, there were plenty of songs that were good enough to catch the attention of folks in the music business. Nathan Dugger, a Nashville-based guitarist who plays with Drew and Ellie Holcomb, suggested Reneé come to the Music City and record a few of her songs.
“I kind of laughed about it and thought, ‘That’s a nice dream,’” said Reneé, “But when I told my mom about it she said, “Why not? You’re only 19-years-old. You have a year of college under your belt, and you’re not tied to anything right now. Now’s the time to do it.’”
That kind of family support wasn’t exactly a surprise to Reneé. She says her family has been very supportive of her musical dreams.
“Pursuing music as a career is a risky thing to do,” said Reneé, “It’s a hard business and even harder to break into. But my parents have always encouraged myself and my siblings to dream big and that nothing is too big or too small to accomplish.”
Reneé decided to take Dugger’s advice and record three or four songs in Nashville. But to do so, she realized she had to come up with around $2,000 to pay for the studio time. She decided to raise the money herself.
“I was trying to finish my freshman year of college,” said Reneé, “So I was babysitting every single chance I had. Then right before I left I put on a concert, which I sprung on my sweet dad.”
Reneé said her father helped pull the whole event together, drawing about 50 people and netting another $75 to be applied to her $2,000 goal. In the grand scheme of things, the numbers aren’t necessarily impressive. But Reneé noticed something that was extremely encouraging.
“Ellie told me that it’s a really good sign when people request you play specific songs,” said Reneé, “I realized that I had three songs that had gotten a lot of feedback and requests to play them.”
Those three songs, “Rooftop,” “Love, Dad,” and “Tapped Out” makeup Reneé’s first wide-release. Her clean, acoustical style is a perfect fit for her song-writing philosophy.
“I do see myself as more of a storyteller with my songs,” said Reneé. “They tend to have a beginning, a story to follow, and a resolution.”
The chance to record in Nashville studio, under the direction of a professional producer, was a horizon-expanding experience for Reneé. She was able to get valuable wisdom from people have been in the music business, feedback that has helped her realize that she needs to pursue her dream without fear.
“I do plan on pursuing this,” said Reneé. “If it doesn’t work out, that’s okay, too. At least I can say I gave it my best shot.”
Make no mistake about it, music is her passion, and she plans to throw everything she has at succeeding in the business. But she says her pursuit of this dream is based on a solid foundation of faith and family.
“From the end of my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college everything that has happened to me has been purely by the grace of God and by his plan,” said Reneé. “None of it was my plan.”
You can find Addie Reneé’s debut songs on Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube.