By Johnny Griffith
For several years, radio country music has been pushing what could be described as a shallower brand of the genre. Just like anything, there are ebbs and flows in the industry and often ratings are driven by the most easily digested version of something out there. Luckily, there has been an opposite and equal reaction to this trend with many artists opting for a more genuine version of the craft that stays more true to the roots and history of country music. Local artists here in East Texas seem especially proud to stick to those roots, and one of those up and coming artists is singer-songwriter Riley Redding from Lindale.
A 2012 graduate of Lindale High School, Redding attended Tyler Junior College where he received an associates degree in Business Administration. After an early interest in sports, Redding wasn’t overly involved in school activities and spent most of his summers, as well as spring breaks, working during the day and hanging out with friends at night. Little did Redding know at the time that these memories would provide fertile soil for cultivating great songs just a few years later as a performer and songwriter with an album to his credit.
Riley took some time to answer some questions for us recently:
Johnny: When was your first memory of showing interest in music?
Riley: I’ve always enjoyed music, but when I tried picking up a guitar to learn when I was 12 I got frustrated very quickly, put it down, and didn’t come back to it for several years. When I turned 17 I decided to try again, but this time started taking interest and really trying to learn. Initially, I began playing in church. Looking back, a forgiving audience is a great place to start when you’re young and building your confidence. The rest, as they say, is history.
Johnny: Who were some of your early influences that kept you focused and involved in music?
Riley: I’d have to say my grandmother mainly, but between her and my mother, I managed to stay focused long enough for the bug to catch. Musically the list of influences goes on and on forever! There are too many great songs and great songwriters out there to narrow down the list.
Johnny: When did you discover you had a knack for songwriting?
Riley: I met a man named John Defoore, and he introduced me to it when I was around 20, mentoring me along the way. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it was a knack, though, but rather more of a learned passion. You write, and write, and write, then before long, it becomes a way of life. Sometimes It becomes hard to operate in the real world because you’ve spent so much time creating your own little one to live in during the writing process.
Johnny: Where do you tend to draw inspiration for your songs?
Riley: Inspiration is all around us, but I tend to draw from a mix of my own experiences growing up as well as those around me. I had some great times with my friends when we were younger, and those memories can make for some great songs. Really though, creativity is where you find it, and if you look hard enough, you can see it in just about anything.
Johnny: Are you primarily a solo act or do you play with a band during live sets?
Riley: Right now I’m trying to do a good mix of solo and full band sets. It really just depends on the venue and the circumstances.
Johnny: How integral has your family been when it comes to this musical path you’re following?
Riley: You know, everyone just wanted the best for me so obviously some were hesitant about it at first, but others have supported 100% the entire way. Eventually, everyone came around, and they all support it now.
Johnny: Your bio says you spent summers working with your father as a kid. Do you feel those days grounded you with a work ethic and connection to East Texas that comes through in your music?
Riley: Yes, very much so. It taught me that working hard can get you a lot of places dreaming and talent alone can’t. A lot of folks don’t want to put in the man hours or get frustrated and quit when it gets a little rough. I feel like when I combine talent and passion with hard work, the sky’s the limit. God has blessed me with a wonderful up bringing and wonderful passion and dream to follow. Focusing on Him is what keeps me going.
Johnny: You recently released an album. How was that experience?
Riley: It was tough! A lot of work goes into it. I must admit, I was naive. It’s been wonderful, though. I have learned so much, met some amazing people, and built tons of great relationships. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.
Johnny: How has the reception been to the new music so far?
Riley: Amazing! I have been overwhelmed with kind words and comments. People seem to really be taking a liking to it, which I am very glad of!
Johnny: What have you been most proud of to this point in your career?
Riley: This album is the highlight of my career right now, but anytime I can connect with someone through my music is pretty amazing as well.
Johnny: If I’ve got one word to describe Riley Redding with to potential new fans, what do I use?
For more info on Riley Redding find him on Facebook at facebook.com/rileyreddingmusic.