She’s embarked on a remarkable musical journey that’s taken her across the country and beyond. In fact, singer and songwriter Ronda Ray has emerged as a creative force with new music that’s different from her previous work. We’ll discuss Ronda’s latest project, exploring the elements that set it apart, while tracing the evolution of her songwriting. Ronda also talks about her musical influences, while discussing the driving force behind her career choice, and her unwavering commitment to music. “I love what I do,” she says. “In my mind and heart this is what I was meant to do.”
With each project, Ray has continuously fine-tuned her craft, while pushing musical boundaries and infusing fresh elements into her work. “Music is a form of art, and being creative for me means experimenting with different sounds. Obviously, you hope that someone’s inspired by what you’re doing,” says Ray.
Ronda finds inspiration herself in the journey of crafting a song. “I have an appreciation for songwriters. I know the challenge of looking at a blank page and trying to make turn what’s in your heart and soul into a song. But a lot of ideas come to me when I’m while I’m going down the highway.”
Whether Ronda’s is on the road in her truck or riding her Harley somewhere, she loves traveling almost as much as she loves creating music. On this particular day, she’s set up camp somewhere in Dallas Texas, and we talked with the talented artist by phone.
Ronda, tell us about your new music and how it’s different than your previous work.
The more I learn, the more I work with amazing and creative people, the better I’m able to articulate the vision of what I want and where I want to go. My first album perfectly reflects an artist who walked into the studio and said, I like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. The album is very good. It’s also pretty safe. With the second album, I was able to say, let’s push the boundaries. I wanted something with more of an edge. I was able to say, “Drums, think Taylor Hawkins on songs like ‘You Break My Heart and Liar.” The bluesy ballads are very interesting sonically. We really captured the raw emotion of each song. I feel like we created something unique and timeless. I’ll be proud to play those songs for the rest of my life as I continue to learn and evolve.
Share how your songwriting process has changed over the years.
My songwriting has grown parallel with my growth as a musician. I know just enough music theory to be competent, but not enough to keep me in a box. That allows me to break the rules, in the right ways. I started by music career as a singer-songwriter with just me and an acoustic guitar. The full band is my dream experience. Growing into that over the years has helped my songwriting because I’m able to see more of the big picture. I always write thinking about what the live, full band, concert experience is going to be like for us and for the fans. Songwriting, for me, is such a journey of living in your own truth. The more I grow into the truest version of myself, the more my songs and stories expand. I suppose it’s the lifelong journey of a true artist.
When did you realize you wanted to be a musician?
I started playing concerts in the living room on my toy box stage when I was 3 or 4 years old. I’d hang out with my super cool Aunt who was a teenager when I was little. She had all the cool clothes, the cool music. Much of our time was spent watching music videos on MTV, with me putting on my “famous” rock ‘n’ roll house concerts or cruising town listening to the radio. The rock ‘n’ roll dream seeds were planted early in life.
You drive around the country in a big truck to your shows. You’re pulling a Harley. How long have you been traveling like this?
For a couple of years, full time. It is a dream in itself. It makes the logistics of touring much easier. It eliminates wear and tear on my body. I never have to think about packing because everything always with me. And, it keeps my overhead low.
What would you be doing if you weren’t performing music?
I have no idea. There never was a plan B for a career. I have a degree in Ag-business and I trained horses for many years. If I did something else it would be driven by my desire to help others and make the world a better place. I can’t think of a better way to do that than music. I think being an artist is the highest calling.
Tell us about some of your musical heroes and how they’ve influenced you.
My first love was the Beatles. I’m a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. He influences my songwriting, live performances, work ethic and commitment to my fans. I love Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. She taught me how to break the rules. She has always lived beyond the status quo. She is fierce when it comes to living true to your core values. Bruce, Chrissie and Paul McCartney are at the top of their game in the twilight of their careers. I could add to the list, but they are at the top of the list of true artists who give me so much to aspire to.
What’s the most amazing part of being a musician?
Live, full band shows. Everything I do in life and work is to get on stage with my band and experience that magic. I wake up thinking about it. I spend all day thinking about it. I go to sleep thinking about it. If we don’t have a full band show that night, I dream about it. If we do, I spend all night electrified by it, wishing everyone could experience the magic the way we just did.
What are your goals for the next five years?
I’m working on myself and my business a lot right now. I want to show people that you can have your own definition of success and live your dream without bowing to the status quo. For me, there is one goal — to be playing full band shows on bigger stages in collaboration with other artists, venues, festivals and industry professionals, bringing as much magic and joy to the world as possible.
For more information visit https://rondaraymusic.comPhoto Credits: Gertrude Gusewelle IG @ins