This past May, Meg Renee released her first album, Dream Awake. While sitting inside the Winan’s Chocolates and Coffee located in the heart of downtown Troy, Ohio, I asked singer/songwriter Meg Renee a simple question. A question that I thought would be probably be one of the easiest to answer for her. A question that most musicians get immediately. I questioned her on when she realized that she wanted to go into music.
“I honestly don’t know,” Renee replied with a giggle.
That’s it. Nothing more.
At a time when people that when teenagers, like Renee, are slowly turning the corner on maybe knowing what they want to do, she was already ahead of the curve.
Renee claims that there was no “a-ha” moment when she discovered she wanted to be in music. She maintains didn’t she have the switch flipped to the opposite end, and have the light bulb flicker on that’s above all of our heads.
She just simply couldn’t tell me as we sat there in that small coffee shop.
Regardless of what she says on what knowing when the opportunity struck her, Renee started to show signs that a career in music was inevitable early in her life. At the age of six, Renee and her friend would hang out the house and sing Brittany Spears songs, and talk about maybe one day forming an all-girl band. They would write songs that they would hope to one day be able to play in front of an audience. Renee would also write and create stories with stickers that incorporated with them, along with poetry on the side.
It was at age nine when Renee started learning how to play the guitar. Renee’s father, who also was a musician years ago when he would perform in a country band, began instructing her and then she followed it up by taking lessons at Sound City Music in town. After a while, Renee wanted to separate herself away from other musician’s songs and try to work on some of her own. “I wanted to try to teach myself a little bit. I felt like I got a lot of skills from it (taking lessons) and it was time to make myself practice on my own stuff,” Renee said.
During one of her music classes when she was in the sixth grade, the teacher requested that each of the students write down a musical goal for themselves to obtain that year. Renee’s goal was to fill a notebook that she brought to class full of songs that she wrote. It was then that she fully understood that her aspiration to become a musician was more than just a silly fantasy. It was going to become her life. Her purpose.
Maybe there was the “a-ha” moment after all, I sheepishly said to myself.
Renee’s first gig was at the age of thirteen when she opened for a band that was slated to play at the recreational center in town. The organizer of the show was impressed with Renee, and helped her get into some other events. She sang in the local church that she attended, and was in some talent shows. She has also participated in Miami County Fair, Troy Strawberry Festival, Rohs Café in Cincinnati, 2nd Street Market in Dayton, Courthouse Square in Dayton, Miami Vallley Music Festival, Holiday at Home Show, Brandeberry Winery among others.
In the beginning of January, Renee went into the studio to record Dream Awake in Popside Recording, located in Troy. Being recommended to go and record, Renee worked with engineer/producer, and guitarist for Hawthorne Heights Micah Carli. “I was very nervous going in,” Renee says when describing the first day of recording. “You are taking your songs and that’s your baby, and they said, “Let us help you with it.”” Along with Renee singing and playing rhythm guitar, Cali recruited some others to help record the other instruments while he played on lead guitar.
The album begins with the terrific, country-influenced “Calloused Wings”, and is followed by the jazzy “Chase Me Through The Streets”. Much like the playful song “Crazy”, Dream Awake captures the softness of Renee’s vocals, following her influences of Brandi Carlisle and Regina Spektor.
After high school, Renee mentioned that she would like to move to Nashville. She has her eyes focused on attending Belmont University, though she is still looking at some other schools. She visited the campus last summer, and soon started to adore the city of Nashville-where the school is located. She became fond of the possibilities of advancing her music career there. “I love the music there,” Renee explains with a twinkle in her eye the minute she begins talking about the city. Also as an added bonus-there is a songwriting major there.
With her focus squaring straight up on being a better singer/songwriter, there are times when Renee misses out on being a typical teenager. Most of her weekends consist of gigs, while sometimes the occasional dance is not going to be attended. However, the music comes first for her. Renee is hopefully that when she arrives in Nashville, and gets settled-she would like to set up a band.
First things first, though-Renee’s high school football team has a home game that she is going to. “I am going to be painting faces and hang out with my friends.” Across from the coffee shop where we sat at, The Fries Band are setting up on the stage as part of The Summer Music Concert Series. The Fries Band play of popular and obscure cover songs from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. They blend their complex vocal harmonies driven by acoustic guitars with keyboards, bass, and drums to re-create very distinctive musical arrangements of bands like Crosby Stills Nash & Young, America, The Beatles, Eagles, Jimmy Buffett, etc. Renee takes a peak to see the band setting up outside the window.
You just know that she would love to be the one setting up to be playing.