What do you do when you are extremely talented, believe in yourself, but the industry that you are trying to get into will not give you the time of day because of your age or your race or your “look” in general?
That is how the mainstream music industry is. It is controlled and contrived with routine practices of age, race and sex discrimination. They actively promote young people who are NOT talented in any major way because when marketed properly, can generate revenue from a non-discerning, young audience. Meanwhile, truly gifted people go unnoticed.
Rena Scott has an incredible voice and talent. She’s been in the music industry for a long time and has never been given her due. Like a lot of inspirational women, she will not give up and continues to do what she is and makes her own way. We are grateful for her conversation and her inspiration on Indie Spirit Magazine.
You started out singing in a Baptist churches. Did you ever feel out of place because of the color of your skin?
I grew up in the Black community. I think people were shocked when they saw this skinny little light-skinned girl get up there to sing. They really did not expect this big voice with so much emotion and soul go come out. You could just see it on their faces after the first note. I always thought that was funny. I was teased often because I was light skinned. I did feel different because I did not look like anyone in my family. I could not quite figure that out. Many years later I found out that I was bi-racial – half white and half Black. I was called several names and some people wanted to beat me up in school for no reason. That really hurt me, I did not understand that. I was blessed to have so many wonderful friends who stood up for me back then. I am so grateful for my church experience. It brought me closer to God and helped to develop as a singer and a person. To me there is no better training ground. I had so many teachers and choir directors mentor me.
You have been in the music business for all of your life. You have paid your dues. Do you feel that you achieved what you wanted? For being as talented as you are vocally, do you feel that you got what you deserved? And, is there more on your plate to do musically?
I have achieved a lot in the business. I have 4 albums and was featured on 8 Soul CD compilations through out the US and the world. I have sung on several movie sound tracks and sang jingles along with other accomplishments. I want to do more of that kind work as well as do some acting. There is so much more that I want to achieve. I want to continue to grow and be the best I can be with the talents and blessings God has given me. I have come to realize that God is in control – not me – and I know he will continue to open doors for me just like this interview with you.
How did you overcome the disappointments that you have faced during your career?
The music business looks and feels glamorous from the outside, but on the inside, it’s different. I can certainly say that I have been able to do some things that some people only dream of doing by being in the music business. It has allowed me to work with some of the best in the business. I have been able to travel to places like Paris and do a song for a movie. I have worked with my mentor Aretha Franklin at Carnegie Hall. I have traveled all over the US and Europe doing Major Jazz/R&B festivals with 40,000 to 50,000 people. I performed with such greats as the Jazz Crusaders and Michael Henderson. It is a wonderful thing when you can do what you love to do and get paid for it.
On the other hand, there have been many ups and downs. I can tell you there where times I wanted to give up. I had two record deals that folded. The music industry has changed over the years. Record labels only want to sign 15-25 year olds.
I cannot change my age but I can be the best me I can. That is why I started my own label. I could not sit back and wait I had to go for it. My husband told me if I did not give it everything I had while I could that I would hate myself for it later. That really challenged me to learn as much about the industry and do it myself with his help.
It is not easy I wake up everyday and get to work. I promote and market myself on the internet. It has helped me greatly to connect with my fans all over the world.
Currently, I am the only artist on my label. It costs so much to promote and market an artist. I look forward to growing and expanding my business.
My daughter signed with a label out of Las Vegas called Bad Sue Records. She has just released her first single off her upcoming CD. I am so proud and excited for her. I am sure we will be recording together again in the future. You can hear our duet on my current CD “Take Me Away.” It is called “Thank God For You.” I would love to sign with a label that will do more than I have and take it to the next level of promotion and marketing. There still so many things I want to do. I refuse to give up I have come too far to turn back now. I now know it is part of my purpose and destiny.
Let us talk a little about the mainstream music arena. For some reason, men in the famous rock bands can be 100 years old and still enjoy popularity, but a woman seems to be discarded from the lime light after she hits her 30’s. As a, I won’t say “older,” but instead “mature” woman, how do you feel about that? Do you feel that the industry is biased against you because of your age? And if so, how do you counteract that (or do you?) and what is your advice to “mature” women who are great vocalists, musicians and artists and are looking to get out there and be established?
I do feel that way. It has been like that a long time in the entertainment industry. It is not right or fair. I know there are many people who enjoy my music. Good music never gets old or goes away.
The internet really let me know I had thousands of fans all over the world. People who are 35 and up would be my biggest market. I sing from my soul and it is the real thing. People feel that in my music. I grew up with hearing great music.
There were so many wonderful artists that came out of Detroit. Motown definitely was a big part that along with other great groups and artist. I am going to keep making the best music I can. I want to continue to explore different types of music to bring out the best in me as an artist.
I market my music on the internet. Facebook, My space, Twitter, You tube etc… For all artists, this is the way now. You can market, promote and sell your music on so many websites out there to get exposed.
What are your current and future goals in life as it relates to music?
I am currently promoting and marketing myself with my current CD “Take Me Away.” I continue to do interviews, set up the CD for reviews, and work on getting radio airplay. I network to gain more exposure. I want to continue to license my music for films and TV and any in other way I can. I am also starting to write for my next CD. I am working with some new writers and producer. I want to do voiceovers for TV, movies and radio. I love to do different characters as well as my own voice. I am planning to write a book in the future. I am looking for an agent to book me for a tour, voiceovers and licensing my music. I am going to record a gospel album after this next CD. I would love to record some duets with some of my favorite singers and musicians: Aretha Franklin, Robin Thicke, Brain McKnight, Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin, Dave Koz, Charlie Wilson, just to name a few.
How involved are you with the creation of the music that you sing?
I am very involved. I love to collaborate with other writers and producers. I tell them what kind of song I am looking for. They give me a basic track. I start to get an idea in my head for the chorus and verse and we build the track from there. I always compare it to an artist who starts with a blank canvas. Once the picture is finished – it is magic – you have a beautiful painting. It is the same way with writing a song. After you have finished creating a great song, it is so fulfilling.
Do you feel that we can get young people back to organic music?
I do think that a lot of them take songs or loops from old school R&B and use it in their music. I have also heard a lot cover songs done on some of older songs. I think some of them really like the old R&B singers and groups. With so many internet radio stations popping up around the world, people are hearing it. So many of the stations are now able to play what they like instead of being told by corporate what they can or cannot play. I believe that is why I am getting airplay around the world now. You have people from everywhere who like great music and they can hear it 24 hours a day.
What aspect of music do you enjoy the most – recording, performing, touring, writing, or just plain old singing anywhere?
I enjoy doing them all. When I write it is a process. I come up with ideas. Once they come together it is very satisfying. When I record it and add the different elements like the background vocals, chorus – it starts to build from there. I love performing live with a great band and background singers. When the band, sound and vocals come together for me, it is magic. I am caught up in it. It is a way to express myself. I love when the audience grooves with me.
What about in other areas of your life? How do you support yourself and what are your continuing plans?
I receive royalties from publishing and songwriting. My husband also supports me and my music.
You mentioned that you are an advocate against domestic violence. Would you please share why you became an advocate and what kinds of things do you do?
There was so much domestic violence in my house when I was growing up. I saw my dad beat my mother on several occasions. At around the age of 10 I almost had a nervous breakdown. I just could not take it any more. My mother took me to see a doctor and he told her that whatever was going on in my life that was causing this had to stop. My parents divorced a short time after that. The crazy thing is they continued to see each other off and on after the divorce and it started all over again and continued for many years. I loved my dad but I hated him for beating my mother. It had a profound effect on my life. It caused me to be depressed for many years. I still have dreams about it sometimes.
God revealed to me why I had to go through that. It was part of my journey to let the world know it is wrong. It is a matter of power and control on the part of the abuser. Abuse comes in the form of physical, mental or sexual.
In 2005 when I released my “Let Me Love You” CD. I decided I wanted to use my interviews on TV and radio to make people aware of how bad the domestic violence situation is. The numbers are startling. I began to meet with mayors in the different cities to talk about this subject. In each city, they told me it was bad in their state.
Each year approximately 207,754 sexual assaults occur in the United States (RAINN). However, despite that astounding number, sexual assault is still not widely discussed.
Allstate Foundation National Poll on Domestic Violence 2004
3 out of 4 (74%) respondents personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.
83% percent of respondents strongly agreed that domestic violence affects people in all racial, ethnic, religious, educational, social and economic backgrounds.
2 out of 3 (66%) strongly agreed that domestic violence is a serious, widespread social problem in America.
While 4 out of 10 (43%) ranked fear that the abuser will find the victim as the number one reason a victim would not leave his/her abuser, over a quarter (28%) thought that finding access to money/income to support the victim and/or children was the most important problem.
The Harris Poll 2006
Approximately 8 in 10 (79%) respondents recall, “seeing or hearing something” about domestic violence in the past year.
53 percent say that they have heard of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. This percentage increases substantially among those people who admit that they have been victims of domestic violence (71%).
A large majority (85%) agrees that “when a person forces his/her partner to have sex, it is an act of domestic violence.”
An 85% majority also agrees that “a man or woman who abuses his/her partner is more likely to also abuse children.”
Approximately 33 millions or 15% of all U.S. adults, admit that they were a victim of domestic violence.
6 in 10 adults claim that they know someone personally who has experienced domestic violence.
Among all adults, 39% say that they have experienced at least one of the following, with 54% saying that they haven’t experienced any:
Called bad names (31%)
Pushing, slapping, choking or hitting (21%)
Public humiliation (19%)
Keeping away from friends or family (13%)
Threatening your family (10%)
Forcing you to have sexual intercourse without consent (9%)
It just goes on and on.
Tell us about the book that you are writing.
It will be about my life. I will go into real detail on every aspect. I will talk about growing up with domestic violence in my house. I will talk about trials and temptations I faced being in the music business. It will take you on a journey. I am sure you will find it quite interesting. I do not want to give it away. When it comes out, we will have to do another interview. I would like to see it turned into a movie.
Thank you Rena.
No, thank you. And I want to thank all my fans who have followed me from the beginning of my career until now. You have allowed me to do what I love to do, what I believe I was born to do. I Wish you all Love and Blessings sincerely…………. Rena
Purchase CD at: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/renascott2 AND