Bella Raye is a 19-year-old singer/songwriter from Bristol, TN. Her path to the Music City is not typical since she moved here at the age of seventeen, but the story behind why she moved at that age is one of the reasons I wanted to write this article. Also, she is a talented vocalist, songwriter, and a kind person.
Bella had a normal childhood. Her parents are still together, and she has a brother and a sister. Her brother is studying to be a dentist, and her sister is working toward becoming a pharmacist. Bella’s parents have always been good to provide what the family needed and were supportive of their children’s endeavors. She got her first guitar at age fourteen, but she didn’t play it at first. Her parents asked her if she was ever going to try and learn, and she eventually really started to practice. She realized the only way to become a good guitar player was to practice. The first song she ever played was a Katy Perry song. In the same year, she wrote her first song.
In her freshman year of high school, Bella Raye decided she wanted to make a career out of music. Her decision to pursue music came with a cost. Bella said, “For most people, they thought I had a perfect life.” She was captain of the volleyball team all for four years and was considered part of the popular crowd. She also was a member of the dance team. Musically, she played in a bluegrass band called “Slim Pickens,” and she was in the choir. Her experience playing in “Slim Pickens,” helped her with singing harmonies and to become comfortable performing. During her sophomore and junior years of high school, she began to get bullied through text messages and social media by people she thought were her friends. According to Bella, “They were not supportive of my music. I used to come home and cry, and my stomach would hurt. My guitar became my best friend.” At the time, she didn’t write songs about what was happening. Bella wrote about other things as an escape from the pain. She is another example of how music can be healing and provide an outlet for your pain. This experience would push her to graduate from high school early and move to Nashville at seventeen.
Bella originally moved to Nashville to study nursing at Belmont University, but soon after enrolling she left school to pursue music full time. She eventually would return to her high school experience and write a song about it. Bella said, “It took a while for me to dig into what hurt me. It wasn’t until I moved to Nashville, that I wrote about it.” “Dear 17” was the song that came from this pain.
This spring Bella Raye released her first EP entitled “Dear 17”, which you can find on all the platforms available. Bella said of the title track, “It was a letter that if I could go back and give myself, I would. It is a song full of valuable lessons I learned when I was too young to learn them, but they made me a better young woman that I ever would have been now, at nineteen. I hope this song can bring someone a sense of relatability. I want people to know they are not alone in anything they are going through, no matter their age or walk of life. Someone has been where they’ve been, and they’ve gotten through it just fine.”
One of my personal favorites on the EP is “Old Me.” Bella Raye co-wrote this song with Tasji Bachman. Bella said, “We wrote this song with the idea of being in a relationship that took away from who you were as a person, and when he/she left you felt like you could only find yourself if they were around. Eventually, of course, being the strong women we are, we find our way back to ourselves, and we don’t let that happen again because we have learned our lesson. Having been through that kind of relationship before, I feel for people who have lost themselves in a relationship. It’s rough, but you’ll always pick yourself back up eventually.”
Bella is incredibly proud of this EP, and it will always hold a special place in her heart as she continues creating new projects in the future. Even though she is only nineteen, Bella is especially grounded. It is essential for Bella to be genuine and kind in her interactions with other songwriters and her fans. She said, “I think it’s important to be who you are all the time so that you can be comfortable with other people.” Bella talked about struggling with interactions; sometimes she wonders if people are being real with her or do they want something from her. Bella doesn’t view the music business as a competition; she said: “be kind and work hard. If it is meant to happen, it will happen.” Bella also places a high value on staying true to herself in her writing and not changing to fit the mold. “I love songs that are real, songs that make you feel something.”
We talked about the importance of having a support system in Nashville, and for many, that would mean friendships with other songwriters. While Bella has friendships with other songwriters, she also has surrounded herself with a small circle of friends that are not in the music business. Bella said, “You cannot consume your life with only music all the time. You have to take time for yourself and give yourself love too.”
Bella Raye’s ultimate goal is to be an artist. She is a talented writer, but performing gives her a feeling like nothing else. The validation she receives when she sees the audience nodding and telling her after the show how much her song touched them is incomparable. Bella said, “it can be disheartening when you are playing a show, and nobody is paying attention.” The Listening Room is a fantastic venue for songwriters, so they don’t have to experience that, and she would love to play there. Song Suffragettes, if you are looking for new talent to play your show, give Bella Raye a call.
Bella is determined to move forward with her career, by working to secure a publishing deal, playing larger shows and touring, and building an excellent team to help her gain exposure in her effort to become an artist. In the humble opinion of this writer, Bella Raye has something special about her. I came away from our interview stuck by her humbleness and how kind she was.
I look forward to the next chapter in Bella Raye’s story, and maybe I will get to write about it. If you have not listened to her EP or ever seen her play in a writer’s round, what are you waiting for?