Growing up in an athletics-oriented family in Stonewall, MB, Rhia Rae was always the kid picking dandelions in the middle of the soccer field. Sensitive to the competition involved in sports, the young artist turned to voice lessons.
“Music was something I just decided to do,” the singer/songwriter states. “I could do it on my own time and I could really be in control of how I went about it.”
10 years later, that same independence has seen her performing in songwriting workshops in such cities as Toronto, Los Angeles, and Nashville.
“It's pretty intimidating,” Rae says of working with some of the top writers in Nashville. “It really makes you realize that you're just a tiny fish in a big pond and that you gotta work pretty hard.”
“Going on all these trips is inspiring though, it's like 'okay, you can actually do this.'”
Still green to the professional music world, Rae is all too familiar with young performers getting type-cast as not to be taken seriously or having a lousy work ethic, a stereotype she consistently tries to break: “I strive to be a very hard worker so that when success does come, I know it wasn't just handed to me.
“I was raised to be very humble so I rarely celebrate my successes,” Rae admits. “But just being able to play in the places I have is grounding. I didn't expect any of this to happen in the last year and I'm so grateful that it has.”
Crossing over from the tight-knit small town of Stonewall to the Winnipeg music scene, Rae was struck by how incredibly supportive both communities are.
“I have a really great group of people that I surround myself with. Not only are they their own musicians but we'll also play shows together. Everyone's just rooting for each other.”
Having this firm support base has allowed Rae the freedom to grow as an artist and refrain from pigeon-holing her work into a certain genre.
“I've been working really hard to keep my craft and my accessibility open,” Rae says. “I feel like if I released an album right now, I'd be labelled. I'm not ready to put a bumper sticker on myself.”
While it may be rare for a musician to have five years of performing under their belt and no record to show for it, Rae feels like that is what has allowed her to do what she wants.
“My music is growing and going in a different direction, I'm not just writing about myself like I used to. And I'm gaining a larger audience which is nice, it's not just girls anymore,” Rae says with a laugh.
Rae recently assembled a band to fill out her sound, a prime example of how her music continues to evolve.
“I don't want to put [an album] out unless I'm 100% sure of it, I want to be smart about it and make sure that it will be the best it can be,” Rae states, showing a glimpse of her youthful awareness. “I'm still squeezing myself together as an artist.”
Rhia Rae will take the stage alongside Luke Jacob and Ozconscious at Ozzy's for Manitoba Music's New Music Wednesdays series September 3. The show kicks off early at 8:30pm and is $3 at the door.