FLINT, Michigan -- It’s not a stretch to say that the genres of rap and Hip Hop music dominate radio airwaves, with R&B sitting as their younger sibling or cousin. With a recent Billboard article discussing the state of R&B—highlighting its resurgence thanks to African American women—the genre is growing, but old industry patterns die hard. And yet, that hasn’t stopped 22-year-old Flint native Brelia Renee from stepping into the ring and following her dreams. The singer-songwriter and dancer has made waves throughout the community with incredible vocals and stellar performances. Compared to her peers in rap and Hip Hop, Renee is one of two handfuls of R&B singers in the city—a fact she wants to see change.
“With me just starting, it’s been a lot of support. But, let me say, R&B here in [Flint] isn’t as big as rap,” she says. “I think Flint is moving in the right direction as far as supporting [an] artist and helping us get out there. If I can be the first to help push [R&B], then yeah.”
Her debut single, Vibe With You, released earlier this year, peaked at number 31 on the iTunes Top 40 R&B chart.And she’s on her way to do just that. Her debut single, Vibe With You, released earlier this year, peaked at number 31 on the iTunes Top 40 R&B chart with the likes of Alicia Keys, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Bryson Tiller. She’s even netted a Twitter follow from one of music’s most iconic African American female artists, Missy Elliott. The positive response to her music, she says, is “super exciting, and I’m so appreciative and thankful that the support is real.”
But it’s thanks to her mother and father that Renee’s love for music is present. Growing up in a two-parent household and the youngest of four siblings, her mother sang in the church choir. “If my mom had a solo at church, I was right there on her hip,” she describes.
Her father, who played piano and passed away when she was nine-years-old, worked a third shift job, and treated Renee like a princess. “My mom [would be] at work, and it would be us at home. He’d be on the keyboard, and there’s me singing.”
Music encompassed the family house, and there was no way for Renee to escape it.
Her arrival into music became partly inspired by watching a singer on Nickelodeon and Beyoncé—her favorite artist. From there, the singer began covering different songs on YouTube before gaining the confidence to start writing, making, and producing her music. With the help of a friend and longtime collaborator, Flint’s LGBTQ+ music artist, Furillostar, the duo began work on what was to become, Vibe With You, a slick 90s-inspired throwback track with an accompanying video.
“I’m getting ready to release a project later on. [Furillo and I] were talking about a record that was missing. That fun, feel good, backyard barbecue record,” she says, speaking about Vibe With You. “I’m so in love with this single. We both felt like this is the one.”
The video, recorded in her grandparents’ backyard and viewed over 2,000 times, shows Renee breaking out her dance moves, something she says is inspired by “the Beyoncé’s, Brady’s, [and] Michael Jackson.” Dance is something she wanted to highlight, taking classes as a young girl and watching music videos. It was essential to Renee, especially in a COVID-19 world, to showcase “good vibes, and good feelings.” It's those things that matter, and why family support means everything.
“I’m so appreciative of my family. If anybody has anything coming out, we rally behind it,” she says happily. “They’re there every step of the way from photoshoots to videos.”
“If this is something you truly love, you’re not going to play it safe. I want to write, get into producing. I want to be in every aspect that I’m doing, from music to visuals.”But looking forward, the singer is preparing for her newest EP scheduled for a 2021 release. With expectations that it’ll be another hit, she doesn’t want to be boxed into any labels and wants to expand her sound. It’s something she admits is a “long intimate process” but one that sees her trying new things. For Renee, this is something she wants to have listeners coming back for more.
“If [music] is something you truly love, you’re not going to play it safe. You never want to box yourself in. You want to be able to be you and be creative,” Renee says. “I want to write, get into producing. I want to be in every aspect that I’m doing, from music to visuals.”
Above all, Renee’s focused, grateful, and hungry to continue releasing quality music. Over the next three years, she envisions herself working with the artists she’s dreamed about since she was a little girl. She aspires to grow her rising fan base, travel, open doors for other female artists, and touch lives through music.
“I’m thankful, and I appreciate everyone who’s listening and tapping in with me,” she says with a smile. “I have a lot of firsts going on right now. [There’s] so much more to go. It’s the people here that have supported me and is the reason why I continue [to have] this level of success.”
You can find Brelia Renee on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. You can listen to her latest song, Naughty or Nice, on all media platforms.