How did you come by your stage name?
I have been singing since I was three years old. When I wrote my first song at the age of 13, I knew I had to go bigger than just a local artist. Over the years, my dad and I assembled a band called Renee and the Renegades, Renegades because it sounds good, and playing together with them and separately on my own, singing is my identity.
When did you discover your love for your craft and what made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in it?
I was in 2nd grade when I entered my first contest. It was at this moment, singing “Both Sides Now” by Judy Collins that I knew I loved performing for others. Performing is what makes me happy. Watching the audience smile while I sing is why I do it.
There is no way I could ever live without singing, for others and for myself. Having a career is more than just money. You should work within your passions, and that is what I am trying to do!
To what or whom do you accredit your sense of style?
I grew up listening to country music in my mom’s car, jamming out to Toby Keith and Brad Paisley, so I guess I can accredit my style to both my mom and my inspirations. If my mom didn’t have country music on, I probably would not have become a country singer.
Similarly, Toby Keith’s How Do You Like Me Now was the inspiration for the first song I wrote. As an angsty 13-year-old, I did not attract any of my crushes, so I put my emotions into music, just like how Toby couldn’t get the snobby girl and instead went for fame.
What are some of your greatest challenges, and what is your greatest attribute when it comes to your work ethic?
When I set my mind to something, I can achieve almost anything. When I sit down and tell myself I have a song to write, it comes out naturally and is typically really good (at least in my opinion).
My hardest challenge is in rhyming or writing songs without rhymes. I was always taught in school that poems and songs should rhyme, so when I try to write one that doesn’t, I am often blocked by myself. I get through it, though, and still create despite this roadblock.
Are you the best at what you do in your opinion?
I think that within a person’s mind and body, there is always room for improvement. Every time I sing on stage, I learn from my performances and try to achieve better the next time. If I forget the lyrics to a song, I make it up as I go and study the song intently until the next gig.
If there is ever an occasion where I feel as though I could’ve done better, I push myself harder the next time. Performing is not about being perfect, it is about being yourself and learning and overcoming anything you see that needs to be overcome.
What are your plans for the near future?
Unrelated to music, I am pursuing my master’s degree at Boston University in Theological Studies. I want to be a theology teacher for a Catholic high school in my area and hopefully, I can change some lives.
In addition to this, I have aspirations to someday become a politician or hold some sort of political office, whether it is local or national.
For my music plans, I hope to have at least one of my songs become popular enough to gain a solid following. I would love to become as famous as Taylor Swift, but even one song being a hit would be a success to me.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank, any shout outs?
I have my parents to thank for my success, for always being in my corner, financially supporting me, and creating a space where I can express how I feel without the fear of being verbally berated.
In addition, I have to thank my Renegades for dealing with me showing up to every practice 5 minutes late (gotta be fashionable) and learning their instruments to such an extent that I could sing a song with them backward.
How can fans find you?
I have a website as well as a Youtube channel. In addition, I am on Spotify and Apple Music (just type in Renee Leavitt).
What suggestions do you have for other artist like yourself?
If you ever feel like you aren’t going to make it big, push harder. And at the end of the day, If you are not happy with your life, your career, your goals…switch them. Adjust your life to be the focus and pursue those things that make you happy, successful, or not. Because at the end of all things, your happiness IS success.