Happy 4th!

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RaeLynn brings grit to the stage

Bob Bonnar

NLJ Publisher

It is hard to imagine anybody is hotter in country music than RaeLynn is right now. The 24-year old breakout star was nominated for the New Female Vocalist honor at the Academy of Country Music Awards this spring, and spent the early part of June meeting legions of fans at CMA Fest in Nashville.

But the former “Voice” contestant and rising star is excited to step back from all of that for a day and perform in Newcastle, Wyo., next Wednesday at the Fourth at the Four Way Festival at Pinnacle Bank.

“I love the energy from Fourth of July shows, and I’m just honored you guys want to have me,” RaeLynn told the News Letter Journal in a phone interview last week.

The rest of her July tour schedule has RaeLynn performing in much larger venues, with the next stop being a performance in St. Louis, Mo., on July 7, but the native of Baytown, Texas, said she feels right at home playing in small towns as well.

“I’m a Texas girl. That’s something I love to let people know, and I’ve played in a couple of really small towns,” RaeLynn said, recalling a past performance at the Mount Olive Pickle Festival in North Carolina. “Newcastle is not the smallest town I’ve been to, and in Baytown I think everybody knows each other, too.”

She lovingly refers to her hometown — a small suburb of Houston — as ‘redneck ghetto,’ and takes a lot of pride in her hometown and the impact it had on her.

“I got my ghetto and my grit from Baytown,” she laughed.

That grit has helped propel RaeLynn’s career since she first burst on the scene as a teen on season two of “The Voice” in 2012. Two years later, her top 10, Gold-certified single, “God Made Girls,” was the highest charting debut single by a female artist when it was released in 2014. That song reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart and has been streamed more than 60 million times, with the video for the song amassing 34 million views.

She followed that up with the release of her debut album, “WildHorse,” which arrived at No. 1
 on Billboard’s Country Albums Chart and rolled to the Top 10 on Billboard’s all-genre sales chart upon release. RaeLynn was named a Billboard Country Artist to Watch in 2017 as well.

The critically acclaimed album also earned the No. 28 spot on Rolling Stone’s 40 Best Country and Americana Albums of 2017, came in at No. 10 on the Stereogum 10 Best Country Albums of 2017 list, and eclipsed that by earning the No. 6 spot on UPROXX’s Best Country Albums of 2017 list.

Additionally, she was named a Pandora Artist to Watch, and two of the singles on the album were also chart toppers. “Lonely Call” was listed among Amazon Music Unlimited’s Best Country Songs of 2017, and “Love Triangle” came in at No. 13 on Taste of Country 17’s Undeniably Best Country Songs of 2017 list.

The performer seems to take her success in stride, though, and says her fame has simply allowed her to do what she loves most.

“I just want people to see my heart, and my heart beats for country music,” RaeLynn said, noting that she has been singing since she was 14 and is enjoying traveling the country as an ambassador for country music.

“I grew up performing and singing in church,” she told the NLJ. “Any good thing comes from God, and I think we are here to be voices for him and share love in his way, and that is what I am called to do.”

RaeLynn has sold over a million digital copies of her music and is one of the highest selling female country artists of the last three years, alongside Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, but she remains grounded and committed to sharing her roots through her music.

“I cuss and I pray, and that’s just life for me,” she said. “That’s the beauty of being human is that you can just be who you want to be.”

RaeLynn’s latest release, “Queens Don’t,” is an empowerment anthem she wrote with Corey Crowder and James Abrahart, and she also co-wrote 11 of the 12 songs on “WildHorse.” She feels good about being able to share her experience and values in her songs.

“You get to inspire people,” the songstress said, noting that she is genuinely excited to be given the chance to uplift the crowd that will assemble in a bank parking lot in a small town in Wyoming on July 4.

“I feel like concerts are a release for people. You live in the moment, and you never know who you’re going to impact at that show,” she shared.

RaeLynn has found other ways to have an impact since her elevation to stardom, most notably the work she has done for people who suffer from diabetes. The first donation from the RaeLynn Diabetes Fund was made to Texas Children’s Hospital, whom she credits for saving her life when she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 12. The fund was created to offer support, empowerment and a special community for all of those facing diabetes. She expanded her impact by partnering with Novo Nordisk for the past three years. She is a spokesperson for the Patient Ambassador Education Program offered by the world leader in diabetes care.

The country music star said she is as excited to be playing in Newcastle as she would be to play on a bigger stage in a major concert venue. She even acknowledged that it could be more rewarding to her as an artist than a larger show would, but that will only be the case if the people of northeast Wyoming and the Black Hills of South Dakota show up ready to have some fun.

“I’d rather have 50 people on fire for what I am singing,” she said of her upcoming small town experience. “I’m all about the energy.”

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