Reyna Roberts is getting comfortable being herself in her music — but it took some time before she was ready to show all the different sides of her artistic identity in her songs. The singer points to her recently-released “Pretty Little Devils” as an example of a song she might have been too timid to put out a couple of years ago.
“I feel like I had to discover myself more and get comfortable enough to actually put it out,” Roberts told Taste of Country on the red carpet before the 2022 CMA Awards in November. “I’ve always wanted to make sure that people see me as more classy, more in that vein, and I still believe that the new music and new songs have class to them. But at the same time, it shows a little bit more of my wilder side. Since I’ve never had confidence, it took me a minute to get there, to express that side of me.”
That “wilder side” is about more than just risque lyrics like “This ain’t the same old hoedown throwdown / Got my pretty little devils on the pole now.” It’s also about creating genre fusion, bringing a trap beat and pulsing, rhythmic vocal delivery to Roberts’ twangy foundation.
For the singer, who grew up listening to country mainstays like the Chicks and Gretchen Wilson, it was important to establish her country bona fides, but equally important to create a diverse body of work.
“Especially when I first got to Nashville — because I love traditional country, I wanted to have songs that were traditional country,” she explains. “But the more I found my sound, working with multiple people in Nashville, my sound started to expand.”
Roberts has realized that building a country music foundation doesn’t necessarily mean always making traditional country music. She’s rubbed elbows with legends of the genre, touring with country mainstay Reba McEntire, whose career is a reminder that country artists can cross over into pop, and even TV and movie roles, without abandoning their roots.
But as much self-confidence as she’s gained from the support of legends like McEntire, Roberts says her biggest boost came from learning to believe in herself.
“Definitely getting acceptance and help from other artists gives me more confidence in myself,” she continues, “but then also realizing, like, ‘Hey, you’re a pretty bada– girl!’ Just having to remind myself [to not] feel too shy all the time, not going back to my introvert self, saying, ‘Girl, you got this! Remember who you are!’ That’s been an essential for my mental state.”
Now hard at work on her next album, Roberts hopes that that journey of self-love and self-acceptance will show up loud and clear in the new music she’s planning to release in 2023.
“A hundred percent. A thousand percent,” she says with a grin, adding that she’s no longer afraid to make her own genre rules in her music. “… Outlaw country, classy country, trap country — it’s gonna be all the things.”
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