April 28 is a huge day for up-and-coming country singer Ciara Rae. Not only will her new social media sites be updated and her music available on iTunes but this local star will be performing at Davie's finest, Cowboys.
This University of Miami-educated songstress will be wearing custom-made duds created by Straight Southern, Joe Curtis and Tyler Stampler's clothing line from right here in Broward County.
We sat down with Rae to uncover more about her and her band's sound, the local country scene, and her favorite Willie Nelson song.
New Times: What do you think about the local country scene?
Ciara Rae: I love it. I think it's so great that even in today's South Florida, the true country lovers have managed to create their own community and venue for themselves. But I do see so much room [for country music] to grow in the future.
How do you see it growing, and who are some people helping it grow?
It's definitely growing with not only the recent venues that have opened but also the new country related saloons and bars that are being constructed and produced now. Fans help it grow. Country fans are the most loyal fans I've ever seen, and when you're willing to go spend your money at a country venue and put your dollar in a country concert, you're contributing to helping our community build.
Describe your music and how it differentiates from other country music.
All of the members of my band, including myself, come from different musical backgrounds. Although country has been, and will always be, the music I love the most, going to school for music, I had to choose between jazz and classical. I chose jazz at UM's Frost School of Music.
Many of the members of my band come from rock backgrounds, and some from funk and R&B. My fiddle player is a 15-year old violin protege, who looks like a college football player with blond hair in a ponytail. We kind of just write from our hearts, and this unique sound comes out. Just listen and you'll see.
Why is country music the best out of all the genres?
One, country music sounds best and is usually performed with a full band live. People forget how important it is and what a difference it makes when you use musicians as opposed to electronic instruments or sounds through speakers to present a song. The impact is so much greater.
Two, the lyrics. Some of the best stories are told through a country song.
Three, country music lovers are hard-core! Concerts, festivals that play country music, easily have little kids and grandparents dancing right next to two young lovebirds making out. You really feel the music; plus the people who already like what I'm doing are so friendly and wonderful!
Who are your musical influences?
I go across the spectrum. If the sound interests me, there isn't anything I won't listen to.
On the subject of country, we have to ask: What's your favorite Willie Nelson song?
"Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys." For sure. However, I also do absolutely love his country rendition of "Georgia On My Mind."
So, how did you link up with Straight Southern?
A really great friend of mine, Matt Becker, told me about them [Curtis and Stampler]. He said we could do something great together. I'm so glad he did; they are all amazing businessmen and great people to work with. I couldn't have asked for better.
What have you accomplished so far as a singer?
I've sung at so many places since I was young... First came the contests, then the national anthems, NASCAR, Red Sox, Marlins, Orioles. I loved the local fairs and charities. But auditioning for colleges and being accepted was really cool. After being admitted into Frost, I was told that 2,000 people auditioned for the five slots open, which I managed to get. I am glad I didn't know that before I auditioned! That was an accomplishment to me.
My most recent accomplishment was winning Nashville's singer/songwriting contest at the local level for my song "Wild One," which was followed by interviews and radio play of a few of my songs on WKIS Country. And now putting together this great family, my band, which is so difficult and getting ready to make a name for ourselves here in South Florida. It is lots of work, but all worth it. Last but not least was writing and finishing this album and recording everything in Nashville. I am really proud of it!
How were you discovered?
I really don't think I've been discovered yet. I feel like I'm being discovered. One by one, by every fan and every supporter I meet. My band and I are really building this on our own. I just want to release this album and start touring and playing my music. Right now, my eyes are on the fans of my sound and music, helping them find me, keeping them, and continuing to bring them real, true good live entertaining country music from our life experiences and point of view.
Could you tell us something about yourself that most people don't know?
People who do know me know I'm a Diet Coke fiend. Diet Mountain Dew is awesome too! If you bring me a Diet Coke, I'll be your best friend for life!
Ciara Rae. 6:30 p.m. April 28 at Cowboys Saloon, 1805 S. University Drive, Davie. $50 for tickets in advance, $60 at the door. Proceeds go toward the SIDES (Sydney's Incredible Defeat of Ewing's Sarcoma) Charity. Visit CiaraRae.com.
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