We’ve heard music from tons of artists, but only a few have left a lasting impression… South Carolina native RĀI is one of those special people.
The New York City-based singer/songwriter first caught our attention in 2016 when he released the recipe for love ballad, “Imagery of Making Love,” under the moniker Terry Jones.
Now, under the new stage name RAI, the R&B crooner continues to deliver emotionally-rich and endlessly playable soul music.
Today, RAI releases the new album, Love’s On The Way, a gumbo of delicious songs full of lush harmonies and poignant lyrics.
Singersroom caught up with the budding artist to discuss the project, his sound, and what’s to come. Take a listen to Love’s On The Way below and get to know RAI by reading our exclusive interview.
What or who inspired this body of work? Also, tell us about your creative process?
Life experiences really! Being in a space of creativity and actually having something to say inspired the album. Using songs and words to inspire, heal and inject positivity into the world is my purpose, so I wanted to make an album that did those things without being preachy while at the same time making you feel good. So connecting my purpose with my creativity and wanting to be a beacon of light in the world inspired the album. I started writing the album back in May 2016. I A&R the project, so I went through the entire painstaking process of finding producers, working with them in person, collaborating online, etc. I found musicians to play or replay live instruments for parts, hiring a string section for a few songs for live strings, etc. I played an active role, and executive produced this project alongside my good friend and producer Brandon Jon. I collaborated with others in the creative process, but I like to vibe out to music alone for hours and become one with it and allow the music to dictate the story and message.
Your records are emotionally-rich; how did you develop this sublime sound?
In everything we do in life, whether it’s a conversation, a head nod, a nice gesture to someone, we have the opportunity to positively affect someone’s life. In understanding that I recognized the power music has in people’s lives. So if I’m going to write a song to convey a message, I got to be able to go deep inside myself to really emote the feelings of that song. You got to make them feel it.
Being independent, Do you ever get frustrated about more people not hearing your music or are you content with the people who currently reach?
It can be a little frustrating. You put in the work, you invest a lot of your resources, and you exhaust yourself emotionally to create something people would like, and then you have to hustle just as hard if not harder just to get people to listen to your music. But to be honest, I’m not upset or bitter about the process at all. One of my favorite quotes by Iyanla Vanzant says, “All things are lessons that God would have us learn.” So I keep working hard, look for the lesson and keep it moving. I’m appreciative of the people that currently listen to my music, but I wrote songs for as many people to hear them as possible, so the goal is to keep working hard to try to achieve that.
Your brand of R&B (the best brand) is becoming more popular again because of artists like Ella Mai, Ro James, BJ The Chicago Kid, H.E.R., and many others. Are you happy with where the genre is at today?
Yeah, I love it. All those are very talented artists. H.E.R.’s music takes me to that special place that only a few artists can. H.E.R.’s music is fulfilling to me on so many levels, so yes, I love that brand of R&B. For R&B and just music in general, I think as an artist you have to understand that things change. The argument about new versus old R&B is the same argument that happens when one generation takes what their parents listened to then puts their own spin on it. It happened, and it will continue to happen. So while I have my favorite within the genre, artistically there’s something about all of it I can appreciate.
What would you like to say to that new fan who is just hearing your music?
First, I would like to say thank you for taking the time to listen. I’m grateful for the support. I’m a pretty positive person, so I try to make songs that will make you feel good and sometimes make you think. I’m an R&B/Soul singer, and I really try to give the best performance in each song every single time. I hope you grow to trust me as an artist and I look forward to meeting all of you out on the road at some point.
What are your plans after you release this project?
Immediately afterward, I’m going to celebrate the release in NYC and South Carolina. Then continue to support the album with shows in NYC and beyond. Will release one more video from the project and continue to work.
Outside of music, what are your other talents?
I’m pretty good listener, and I’ve become the go to person amongst my friends when they need someone to talk, or a positive word or sound advice. Also, I love to write. I started writing a book a while ago where I use incidents in my life that I overcame to share and possibly inspire others.
Purchase the album here