Hey y'all, Bella Raye here.
I wholeheartedly believe that if you want to invest in an artist in this hectic industry, you need to know where she is coming from. For me, music was there when no one else was. The following story was not easy to write, but, as stated above, it is important that my fans and friends all understand the reason behind my musical ambitions. Thank you for believing in me.
This is my story.
I was born and raised in a small town called Bristol, home of NASCAR and the Birthplace of Country Music, right at the tip top of East Tennessee. Bristol was so small that I could get from Point A to Point B in thirty minutes at most, and I never had to worry about traffic. My elementary school, middle school, and high school were all within two miles of each other, and I had the same friends for twelve straight years. I played every sport you could name, but only one sport really stuck, and that was volleyball. I played the sport for nine years and loved every second. Away from my guitar, you could find me on the court or bonding with my teammates before games. I was also studious, participating in several other extracurricular activities such as a bluegrass band called Slim Pickens, the Madrigal's choir, and helping out with fundraising organizations on a before and after school basis. I ended up graduating early, as a valedictorian and TN Scholar with a 4.0 GPA, and proudly walked across the stage with the rest of my class to receive my diploma.
How did I find my voice with music in high school you ask? Let's back up.
I mentioned that I had the same friends for twelve years. While that could be seen as a blessing to some, for me it was actually, for lack of a better word, quite an inspiration for my song lyrics. My influences for songwriting came from Taylor Swift, Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, and many more. I enjoy songs with raw emotions behind them, songs with a purpose and lyrics that make your heart sink when you listen to them. These artists made me feel things that I sometimes did not want to feel but that I needed to recognize. Songwriting for me was, and still is, a way that I can express my emotions and inward feelings. They are personal to me, but they can also be felt by any young girl growing into her own as a woman.
High school was four years filled with fun memories of football games, sleepovers, driving around with your best friends, and finally having your first kiss with the boy that you always had your eye on since the first day of freshman year. I had all of that and more, yet it felt like I had nothing. I was captain of the volleyball team. I dated the star of the football team and, later, another boy who I thought held the stars but really didn't love me at all. I had the grades, I was friends with the "in" group, and both of my older siblings had made a name for themselves at my high school. However, none of that mattered. Eventually, I lost some of my best friends, my heart was broken time and time again, and I would wake up in pain every morning not wanting to go to school. All of those things that sounded so dreamy to everyone else were the very things that chained me down. I would come home to texts that told me my new “nickname” at school. I would collapse in my momma's arms (thank God for that woman, y'all) begging her to let me drop out of school and just play music all day. That obviously didn't happen, so I would go back to my little bedroom, grab my guitar, and write a song about whatever hurt me that day. I was forced to grow up very fast, and for that I will always be thankful to have had my loving family supporting me. So, when I say that music was there for me when no one else was, I hope that you understand.
I would never go back and change what I went through at seventeen years of age. All of those haunting memories, all of those words said to me, and all of those looks thrown at me have made some amazing songs that I’m thankful to share with y’all.
Let me leave you with this piece of advice:
Never, ever, let ANYONE tell you that your dreams are too big or that you need to “find a Plan B because nobody ever makes it as a _______”. That's bull. Work hard, build up your neighbors, and turn your tunnel vision on. One day you will shine, and those who laughed at you when you first shared your dream in school are going to feel foolish. They will wish that they had held your hand to the very top. I promise you that.
I am working towards my dream not only for myself, but for every young boy and girl who has ever had a dream but became discouraged to the point of giving it up. I am the voice for every girl who was taunted by her "friends" on how she stood out from everyone else. I am the voice for anyone who had “too big” of a dream, and I won’t give up until everyone hears it.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Hopefully, now you can understand why music is my only road and why I work so hard every day to achieve that dream.
Don't let anyone dull your sparkle. Stay shiny, beautiful one.