For pop songwriter Renae, the first threads of inspiration for her newest album, Align, came not from the studios, but from the silence.
“I was writing songs for Universal Music Publishing five days a week,” she said. “I’d written for Meghan Trainor and 5 Seconds of Summer, but I was beginning to get burnt out from writing songs all the time.”
A friend had recently passed away, and she felt like something was missing in her life. So she googled “Best Yoga Retreat” and found herself at Spirit Rock Center, a seven-day retreat conducted in complete silence. “It was just a chance for me to be in nature and be with myself, something we don’t do a lot in modern culture,” she said. “It was transformative, and I really felt myself change. It gave me the tools to manage my anxiety, to look at life and shift my purpose.”
She began exploring yoga, meditation, and mindfulness more, and during a New Year’s Eve retreat in Sedona, Az. a lightbulb went off. “We were meditating on a mountain and this woman was playing the harp,” she said. “She started talking about chakras, how each note corresponds to each chakra. I thought I could make an album out of this.”
The seven songs on Align coordinate with each of the seven chakras – the Root, Sacral, Solar Plexus, Heart, Throat, Third Eye, and Crown – each written in the coordinating key. “It’s a complex concept album,” she said.
Her most recent single, “Wanderlust” aligns with the Sacral Chakra, in the key of D. “It’s a metaphor for feeling creative,” she said. “It’s really my story, coming from feeling disconnected and sinking into the experience of life.”
Born Cristi Vaughan, the Ohio native attended Fort Hayes, a magnet school for performing arts. There she shared classes with Josh Dun, the drummer for Twenty One Pilots. “They’re a huge influence on me,” she said. “It was amazing to see what they did together.”
Since March, she’s been releasing one single on iTunes each month, with the full album due out in September. 10 percent of the sale of each single will go to a charity, with the proceeds from “Wanderlust” benefiting the Vh1 Save The Music program. “I want to help kids find their creativity in music,” she said. “It will help them move forward in life. You can’t be analytical all the time.”
In the future, she’s hoping to share her message through a series of workshops and classes incorporating mindfulness and music. “I have a real passion for wellness,” she said. “I see myself as a performer and teacher, and I want to give back to help people find healing.”