Breaking into the country music scene in 2012, Nicole has always been invested in writing and performing. Nicole’s mom jokes that she was trying to sing before she could talk.
Nicole always took part in school musicals, choir, and musical theatre. She also took piano and vocal lessons. When she graduated high school, she headed off to university for English, but spent her first year writing music instead of essays. That was when she decided to focus on making her career as an artist.
Thankfully, her family was super supportive. “They didn’t kill me for dropping out,” says Nicole, and she’s had their unwavering support over the years.
Her summer single, “Feels Like Yesterday” has gathered over 300,000 streams and she’s released a trio of christmas songs, including her original, “Tailgate Christmas,” which is a duo with fellow artist Graham Scott Fleming.
5 Questions With Nicole Rayy
1. What would you say is the most important thing for you to always remember and not lose sight of, as your career grows and changes?
“Believing in yourself. It gets hard, when you get no’s and hit roadblocks. There are people not liking what you’re doing.” This is something she still has to remind herself of, especially lately.
“If I don’t believe in myself, who else is going to?”
She says it’s important to block out what other people are doing, which can be difficult, but you have to step away from comparing yourself to others. You can fall into a negative pattern of wondering how things are happening to others when you know you work so hard and deserve it too.
Staying true to yourself, knowing who you want to be as an artist and establishing goals is important for staying on track.
2. When you’re looking to collaborate with artists, what qualities do you value in them that make you feel good about partnering?
Honesty is the most important quality when looking to collaborate. She values being as honest as possible with her music and putting it all out there.
She loves artists that aren’t afraid to say it how it is and tell their story as true to themselves as possible.
Connecting with people who are very different from her in a lot of ways is important as well.
“You can pull the best out of each other and show each other a different perspective.”
3. The music industry is a tough grind. In a moment where you’re feeling down or things just aren’t going your way, what’s your strategy for getting back on the horse?
“When I’m going to do something I do it. Even when it gets hard.”
Nicole Rayy is very determined. She turns to her mom when she’s feeling defeated.
“Sometimes, I just need a pep talk and she will put things in perspective for me and calm me down. Then I can refocus.”
She says it’s important to have that one cheerleader to kick you in the ass sometimes when you just can’t pick yourself up.
4. You are an absolute champion for women in music and opportunities for women in the industry. Where does the motivation come from for you to focus on this and be such a leader in advocating for space for women in country music?
“I knew that the feeling in the industry was of such competition, like there’s only room for one person at the top. And I really hated feeling that way.”
“We need this community to support each other. When one of us wins that really is a win for all of us.”
It’s important to come together and support each other. There are so many talented females in the music industry and she wanted to be part of creating space for them to show off their talent.
5. You’re a great role model for young women – in music or otherwise and everything you release, promote, and participate in is so aligned with your values. How do you balance staying true to yourself when it’s so easy to be heavily influenced by this industry as it can be very loud?
Nicole says It’s hard to block out what other people think she should be doing, but at the end of the day, she always feels like she relates to artists who are most authentic.
“Their music touches me in such a way. I always wanted to be that person for myself too.”
She loves being able to listen to a song and connect with an artist and understand the story they’re sharing.
“I want people to listen to my music and go, “she understands what I’m going through.””
Truly though, Nicole believes If she were doing what other people told her to do, it wouldn’t be authentic and people wouldn’t relate to it and it just wouldn’t resonate.
It’s really important in trying to figure out who you are as a person, you explore who you are, but also who you aren’t.
All Women and HarmoniaFest
Nicole Rayy isn’t just a singer-songwriter, she’s also the founder of All Women and Harmoniafest.
All Women was Inspired by her song, “All Woman.” She wanted to create a community for female artists.
“It felt especially important because it’s so tough for females in this genre and we’re made to feel like we have to be pitted against each other.”
Nicole wanted to feel like she could be a community and bring these women together as a resource for each other. At its core, All Women highlights women in country music and brings women together. Since she’s started it, she feels better and stronger. The element of competition feels like it’s dissolved and she’s made so many friends, including one of her best friends, Mackenzie Leigh Meyer.
“She’s amazing, has a beautiful voice, her songwriting is unbelievable, and she knows who she is and I just love seeing her succeed.”
Mackenzie joined Nicole’s lineup for the second annual HarmoniaFest. HarmoniaFest is an all-female music festival Nicole started two years ago. She was sitting in Winnipeg, and a bunch of festivals were announced for the next year. She couldn’t ignore the fact that the lineups were 90% male.
“I was literally counting the males versus females on the rosters.”
She was so sick of it. She wanted to create the opportunity for women to have their place. Her parents are so supportive but she probably thought she was crazy when she said she was going to put on a music festival. She had no idea what to do and had never done it before, but she’s received tons of help and support and it’s been a success. Fellow female artist Maddie Corrine was so helpful throughout the entire process, and they’re excited to be taking Harmoniafest back to Brooks Farms again in 2022.