Priscilla Renea’s musical journey began at a young age when she’d join her family singing in church. Growing up with a mother and father who could easily belt out a tune meant it was years before Priscilla Renea realized her musical talents were unique.
That bubble burst when she uploaded her first YouTube video and caught the attention of music industry insiders who zeroed in on her talent. Since then, Priscilla Renea has written songs that have landed on top of the Billboard charts. She’s penned hits for the likes of Rihanna, Fifth Harmony, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Pitbull, and Kesha.
Songwriting, she says, just comes as naturally to her as sleep. “Most days I wake up out of my sleep with a song on the tip of my tongue,” Priscilla says, adding that she finds inspiration in the smallest of places. “I’m constantly searching for artistic vision,” she says. “The way a hummingbird floats, the way the sun glints off of the waves in the water.” Every new day, conversation, movie and sip of coffee provides a surplus of inspiration for her.
These days, though, Priscilla Renea is hard at work promoting her new LP, Coloured, which has a country soul sound. It is, as she describes it, “a big gumbo of everything that’s happening in [her] life.” But it’s music’s ability to connect people through shared emotions that made her fall in love with the medium. “It shows that the tiniest insecurities or doubts we have about ourselves…we are not alone with those feelings,” she says.
In order to keep her creative juices flowing, though, Priscilla Renea knows it’s important to keep her energy positive. That means she places an emphasis on self-care and sometimes saying no. “I’m no good to anyone if I am not vibrating at the highest level,” she says. “I’m a battery, when I’m low on electricity I have to recharge. Period.”
Deciphering people’s energy, though, can be a draining process. In this week’s “Shortlisted,” Priscilla Renea walks us through the tools, products and tactics she relies on to stay rooted and creative.
No excuses, just produce.
It took me several years to figure out that the reason successful people are successful is because of hard work and dedication. It’s not because you knew somebody who got you in the door (although that happens), not because of nepotism (which also happens), not because you are rich and have every opportunity for success (which is also a possibility), BUT PURELY because, no matter what you choose to do in this life, you have to work for it.
Skin care essential
Neutrogena makeup remover wipes. They get all the make-up gunk out of your pores so you can maintain that beautiful smooth skin underneath your foundation!
TED Talks Daily. So many brilliant minds exploring a multitude of ideals. It’s like Wal-Mart for free thinkers.
A fishnet shirt. Tight, high-waisted shorts and combat boots. I don’t like to be hot, temperature-wise. And I don’t like to be uncomfortable in heels just to impress people who don’t care about me anyway.
I’m also secretly living in a post-apocalyptic movie world where everyone is a zombie and I’m here to save the last few lives on earth. Basically, I just dress like Lara Croft from Tomb Raider as much as possible.
Three books: The Game of Life & How to Play It by Florence Scovel Shinn; Re-Creating Yourself by Neale Donald Walsch; and, I’m Still Here: Black Dignity In A World Made For Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown.
These books changed my life and the way I view the world. If you need freedom from the peer pressure of society, if you need assurance that you aren’t crazy, and that little voice in your gut that tells you to buy that fancy dress, even though your bank account is screaming “NO!”—the first two titles are the books for you.
As for the last book, it gets tiring as a successful black woman to continually have to explain the awkwardness that is being unapologetically black and comfortable in your skin around non-PoC. This book really confirmed a lot of the questions and gray areas I had about interracial interactions.
To all my beautiful black girls out there: never change who you are to make someone else comfortable in their insecurities. There’s nothing wrong with your hair or the way you speak. OWN IT.
I’m multicultural. My great grandfather is from La Romana, Dominican Republic and his wife was Choctaw Native American. I grew up very southern, country, and as I got older I realized I wanted to be more connected to my family’s history. There’s just something about the way Afro-Latin music mixes folk, with afro beats and Latin melodies that really wraps itself around my brain and makes me feel calm and romantic.
It’s a part of my life that I don’t really share because it’s not up for debate. A lot of Afro-Latina/Latino people have to hide their identities because ignorant people will not allow us to have an identity that is non-white Hispanic. I’ve literally had people tell me I’m not Hispanic because of the color of my skin.
One of my favorite new personalities is Amara La Negra. She touches on these issues so perfectly. I’m so happy we are finally able to embrace who we are openly. It’s still not a subject I’m fully comfortable with talking about though, and music is a way for me to cope without anger or fear.
Going to Starbucks and zoning out with my headphones on (like I’m doing RN.) Sometimes I have to go to a quiet place where there aren’t a lot of things to distract me. I love people and I love talking to people, so in order for me to actually focus and check the boxes off on my list, I need to remove myself from the madness. A quiet coffeeshop or the beach is a perfect place for me to do that.
Instagram. LOL. I think I’m addicted. I love scrolling through Insta to check out new restaurants and fashion designers or museums I should visit. Instagram is like the best advertisement for everything cool you want to see but don’t want to risk wasting time or resources. You can just live vicariously through others and THEN decide what works for you.
Good hair secret-weapon
A du-rag and Eco Styler gel. That’s how you get those silky, shiny ALL DAY waves. A du-rag is a black hair care GODSEND. You can get full hair coverage, so that means no fuzzies when you wake up. It’s silky and smooth, and unlike a regular head scarf, it won’t slip off in the middle of the night and destroy your hairstyle.
Eco-styler is gold for any naturalista. It helps you maintain your curl pattern but will give you all day hold so you don’t need to worry about any rogue curls popping up in the mid-day heat and killing your hair vibe. Together, these two are a recipe for some POPPING, shiny waves.
Flats, sneakers or heels?
My PrettyLittleThing spiked combat boots. You can kick some ass in style if anybody tries it.
Self-care method of choice
I really enjoy falling asleep, or meditating to my Solfeggio frequencies or my affirmation hypnosis. After a long day of constantly brushing elbows with negative energy and grumpy people, it’s great to be reminded that I am enough, I can do this, and I am allowed to desire the best things in life.
“I am enough, I can do this, and I am allowed to desire the best things in life.”
Bonus: GIF that best describes you
*insert a Mariah gif