Chicago singer, Aneika Rivers is taking country music by storm. Find out how it all started.
Hi Aneika, I really like what you’re doing with your music. There aren’t many, if any Black, Country artists out there. What made you get into being a country singer?
Other than the fact that I love country music, country music is the only music that just seems to flow when I sing it. I never feel like I have to force anything but it was honestly Taylor Swift’s first album that got me into singing country. I know that she’s more country pop, but it was her album that I first listened to on YouTube and then I started clicking on recommended videos.
That’s really cool. Taylor is a great singer. Speaking of great singers, R&B artist K.Michelle has talked about making the jump from r&b soul to putting out a complete country album. Any thoughts on that?
I honestly love how she appreciates country music, but it may be a bit difficult for her to do. Her fans are fans of R&B, so it may be challenging for her to get them to become fans of country music as well. But I will say, fans are loyal. Real fans, true fans, will follow as well as continue to support you wherever you go. So I say, go for it. That’s the thing about music, it doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care who you are. So I say if you love country music or any type of music for that matter, go for it.
That’s great advice. When did you start singing?
I started singing, maybe around the age of five. It was actually my older sister who inspired me to sing. When I was a kid, my older sister had the most beautiful voice to me and I wanted to be just like her. She was only a year older than I was, but that didn’t stop me from thinking she was the greatest singer. So I started off just wanting to be like her but I guess God and music had other plans for me.
Do you write your own music?
Yes, I do.
What’s your writing process like?
This may sound cliche, but most of the songs I’ve written came out of pain of some sort, even with my debut single, “Country Music.” I know that seems like a happy song but that came from a feeling of misunderstanding and unnacceptance. Here I was this black girl from Chicago, who wanted to be a country singer. Most people didn’t understand that. So I wanted to express that through song, and with the help of my cowriter/producer, I was able to do so. I believe that people can relate because I’m sure everyone has been misunderstood at some point. I know country music may not be everyone’s story, but I wanted to make sure that my first song was my story.
The video for your single, “Country Music” is out now. Where did you shoot the video? It’s really dope.
Thank you so much. That really means a lot to me, especially it being my first one. I actually shot the video in Crete, IL which is south of Chicago. Erica Garcia, a friend of mine, made it all happen. She was literally heaven sent on this project. One day I was telling her about my ideas, and all of a sudden, she was making it all happen. I’m so happy. It really was perfect for what I wanted to accomplish. I could never had gotten that look in my city, Chicago.
Yeah, I didn’t think you were in Chicago with all of that farm life. Can you tell me a little about the concept for the video and the song?
Well, it being titled, “Country Music,” I really did want it to be a country video. But I also didn’t want it to be fake. I’m not from the country so I didn’t want to portray that in my video. I wanted it to be as genuine as possible. I wanted it to be me, the real me. Shannon, of Auteur Visions, directed, shot, and edited the video. So I told him my requests and he literally came up with everything in between.
What you were trying to portray definitely came through in the video. Many artists have certain rituals they practice before they perform or record music, like gargling with salt water or even being a little superstitious. Do you have any?
Haha, that’s so funny but actually the only thing I do is pray. And I refrain from practicing too much the day of. I never want to psych myself out. A couple of hours before, I’ll listen to the songs once each, but that’s about it. As far as studio recording, I just get in the booth and sing. I make sure my mind is clear and I sing. I guess I never really wanted to get too dependent on anything. I can’t imagine having to gargle salt water, and I get ready to perform and find that there is no salt in sight lol.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Whitney Houston will probably forever be one of my most influential. There are things that woman did with her voice that I can only dream of! Dolly Parton is also one of my favs. I mean, she really represents what country music stands for, to me. And to let you in on a little secret, I’m actually working on a remake of a Dolly Parton song. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. I also love Carrie Underwood for her strong voice and Miranda Lambert for her sincerity in music.
What’s your dream collaboration?
It’s funny that you ask that, because just a few days ago, a friend of mine asked the same exact question. I have two actually. The first one would be Chris Stapleton. I absolutely love [his] voice. He just sings with so much soul. He literally gives me chills. The second, surprisingly for some, is not a country singer. But I would love to do a collab with Tori Kelly. She’s so underrated to me. Her voice is so angelic. I think we could do some great things together.
I’m a big fan of Tori Kelly, her voice is amazing. She go so far just from youtube. Where do you see your music taking you?
Hopefully far lol! No, but in all honesty, I love singing. I always tell people that it’s literally my breath of fresh air and bit of heaven on earth. I love making music and just want to share it with the world. Music can change lives and I hope that one day God allows me to use my platform to do just that. I want to travel the world spreading love and light through my music.
That definitely reads trough because on your instagram page you post a lot of empowering and inspirational quotes. It seems like motivating others is really important to you, is that true?
Yes, it’s really all I stand for! I really do my best to inspire and empower others. We live in such a dark world and if you’re not careful, it can consume you. So I just aim to be the one to bring some light in such a dark world. Jesus already did that. I’m just trying to follow in His footsteps. Every human being should do their best to help others become their best. We all should be pushing and motivating each other. Love is and will ALWAYS be the answer.
Where can people get in touch with you?
You can find me on my website www.aneikarivers.com as well as on pretty much all of social media by searching @AneikaSRivers.