Interview: Alyssa Ruffin
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Hello Alyssa! Thank you for chatting with me today! Thank you so much for having me.
You released a couple of songs this year and are up for some awards! Will you tell us a bit about that? I recently won the 2021 Josie Music Award for Modern Country Female Vocalist of the Year. The Josie Music Awards are the largest independent music awards show in the world. With 38,997 submissions this year, that's nearly double the yearly Grammy submission average. Josie Passantino-Boone and Tinamarie Passantino go above and beyond for the independent artists, labels, producers and many other independent music industry professionals. I was honored to even be nominated in 4 categories and so incredibly humbled to have won. I am also the Global Music Awards Honors - Bronze Medalist, a World Songwriting Awards Top 10 Finalist for "Best Pop Song", and 4x Josie Music Award nominee. Additionally, I am nominated for Hollywood In Music Awards, International Songwriters Awards, and International Songwriters Competition (ISC) participant. You can view the official JMA winners list by visiting www.josiemusicawards.com/2021-official-winner-list
This year I released my debut single "Collateral Damage". It was produced by Grammy voting member, producer, engineer and co-owner of Audio For The Arts in Madison, Wisconsin, Audrey Martinovich. This song was born from a partnership with D.T. Hudson Writing Company to write songs for Military Veterans. It was inspired by female Military Veteran, Childhood trauma survivor and author of the poem also entitled "Collateral Damage", Lindsay Nowling. I also released a lyric video produced by BSquared Mgmt out of Nashville, Tennessee and an official music video through VEVO produced by M.O.D. Media Productions out of Madison, Wisconsin. Following up in June I released "First Touch" written by Anthony Black and I am featured on "Futurebright" by Ozonic which was released in July. Additionally, I'm also featured on "The Love That We Know" by Ed McGee which was released in 2018. You can listen by visiting linktree.com/alyssaruffin I have a few other projects in the works but they're in the early stages and I'm not yet able to talk about them. I am working on an original Christmas song and hoping to release it this year!
Who are some of your musical influences? My first inspiration was my mama. When I was little she competed in a singing competition and made it to the finals, which were held at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. The entire showcase was filmed so when she came home, she played it back for me to watch and showed me photos of her at the Grand Ole Opry. The entire thing was a life changing moment for me, even at 5 or 6 years old. There was a girl that was about my age and she had competed in this same showcase as my mom. I had already been singing, but at that moment I was inspired to pursue music and told my mom that I wanted to sing. Shortly after, she put me in every talent show, singing competition, fair and festival that she could find. She had me singing in church, took me to her karaoke shows, gigs, band practice, work when she was a radio announcer and let me perform with her band, and/or her friends' bands all over the US and Canada. Mariah Carey was my biggest inspiration in music for a really long time. I also grew up in Country music as that is primarily what my mama sang at the time and I absolutely loved Trisha Yearwood! Eventually I was inspired by artists like LeAnn Rimes, Shania Twain, and Faith Hill. In Middle School, I shifted towards Pop/Rock music. First with Alanis Morrisette and Gwen Stefani/No Doubt and Jewel. Christina Aguilera and Pink were everything in my teen years and into adulthood! I would flip back and forth between the Pop radio stations and Country music and I still do! Miranda Lambert became my favorite in Country, Kelly Clarkson, Joss Stone and Etta James were also a part of my powerhouse inspiring favorites. Today I tend to listen to Miranda, Maren Morris, Carly Pearce, Ashley McBryde, and Elle King.
If you could describe yourself as an artist in one word what would it be? Authentic. Visonarry. Relatable.
If you could do a duet, with anyone, living or not, who would it be? Oh my gosh, my list is pretty long. Definitely all of the ladies who inspired me! Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Trisha Yearwood, Shania Twain, Leann Rimes, Miranda Lambert, Jewel, Pink, Alanis, Avril Lavigne, Gwen. I would love to do a duet with Wynonna Judd and Maren Morris. It would be amazing to duet with J.R. Richards of Dishwalla. I opened for him in 2019 and was direct support. He has the most incredible voice, just so beautiful and effortless! I love Billy Currington's voice and Keith Urban, Thomas Rhett, Carly Pearce, Bruno Mars, Jonathon Roy (Canada), and I have always wanted to duet with the Goo Goo Dolls since I was 15. Legends like Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Hank Jr. Artists that are no longer with us... Etta James, Prince, Michael Jackson, Elvis and Ritchie Valens. So many artists...so so many!
How do you keep your music on brand for you? I think keeping my music personal, helps with the authenticity portion. I write about all areas of my personal life. The good, the bad and the ugly. The happy times, the adventures, love, heartbreak, and trauma. I use the name everyone knows me by, I have my cartoon gals. The illustrator Sophia Bonafide (IG: @eclecticsophie) designed her as a reflection of who I am and brought all of my ideas to life. I have my signature Pink Lady. She wears a hot pink dress and if you know me, you know that pink is my absolute favorite color, she's also got fishnets and thigh high boots! I have the Patriotic Girl because I am a Military wife and I love my Country. She sports an American Flag themed look. I also recently launched Space Girl as an extension of the Military wife and life outside of music. She has a really cool space suit, complete with a "Space Force" like patch and American Flag patch in honor of my husband who serves in the US Space Force! It was actually his idea to do the Space Girl! I think all versions mirror different parts of who I am. I eventually want to do a comic style character book with different reflections of me and my life. I think they are unique and it's a lot of fun! I come up with the concepts and Sophia works her magic to execute awesome artistic results! You can shop my new "Space Girl" merch line here. www.alyssaruffin.bigcartel.com
What does it mean to you, to be authentic? Just being real. I don't think you can be more authentic than sharing things that you have personally lived through. I write about real life. Losing a loved one to cancer, having a good time with friends, being a military spouse, dating the wrong guy, and the not so popular topics tied to surviving trauma and abuse like; domestic violence, struggles with mental health and/or suicide, and sexual assault. I had my most authentic moment to date this past weekend. I won Modern Country Female Vocalist of the Year at the Josie Music Awards. I was standing up on stage in front of a packed theater, giving my acceptance speech. I remember walking up to the podium and looking out at the audience, I had not prepared anything because I was not expecting to win. This came as a complete surprise but as I was standing on stage with all of the Vocalist of the Year winners for every genre, male and female, I thought out what I was going to say. I was going to thank God, my mama for always pushing me, my husband and kids for their support, family, friends and fans that supported me etc. What came out of my mouth instead, I shared part of my story. I stood up there in front of all of those people and told them how I survived childhood sexual abuse, how I attempted suicide twice and how my husband has been there for me through it all. How we both are advocates of suicide prevention, Mission 22 Ambassadors for Veteran suicide prevention & awareness. I stripped my layers down to nothing and shared my deepest darkest secrets and struggles with a theater full of strangers, at a music awards ceremony. I cannot begin to tell you how many folks came up to me after commending me on my bravery, thanking me for sharing and taking a stand and how they share the same story on one or both topics, how I helped them just by unveiling my story for those 2 minutes. This is me. I'm not perfect and I don't want to pretend to be. I'd rather speak my truth and help others along the way. Be true to yourself. It truly does set you free.
Please let our readers know where to find you and your music! My music can be found anywhere music is streamed by searching Alyssa Ruffin, by visiting my website at alyssaruffinmusic.com or by visiting linktree.com/alyssaruffin
Thank you for your time!