“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” 
― Sheryl Sandberg

BABE #86: RION PAIGE, Singer + Staff Songwriter @ Floor Six Publishing BMI

BABE #86: RION PAIGE, Singer + Staff Songwriter @ Floor Six Publishing BMI

Rion is a ball of sunshine. Not only is she an insanely talented vocalist and songwriter, but her drive, determination and overall outlook on life are what really impress the heck out of us. We typically don't interview Babes who are still in school - let alone 17-years-old and learning how to drive, but this gal is a bit of an exception. You might recognize Rion from her time as a finalist on the X Factor (USA) in 2013, which kicked off her full-time career at age 13. Now four years later, she continues to chase her dreams at full speed and we can't wait to see what she does next. Thanks for chatting with us, Rion!

The Basics:

Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
Current city: Nashville, Tennessee
Alma mater: Homeschooled
Degree: N/A
Very first job: Crazy enough, my “first job” was being cast on Simon Cowell’s X Factor USA!
Hustle: Singer + Staff Songwriter @ Floor Six Publishing BMI

The Interests:

Babe you admire and why?
Keri Russell. Mostly because of her role on the 1998 show, Felicity. I can relate to Felicity not only because of her curly hair but because she’s constantly taking risks and soaking up every moment. On the show, her character cuts off her curly mane to convey a new season of life. I always joke that one day I'm going to run away and return with all of my curls off and call it my Felicity moment.

How do you spend your free time?
Lately I've been spending my free time learning to drive. I just got a car for my seventeenth birthday and let me just tell you - that crap is scary. The most exciting thing about driving is having control of the aux cord and spontaneous road trips.

Go-to coffee order?
I'll usually go with a regular cup of Jo or an iced dirty chai with 2 shots. (I may or may not be a Starbucks gold card member.)

What would you eat for your very last meal?
Sushi. Lots and lots of sushi.

Favorite social media account to follow?
@Naturallife. They are always full of girl power and encouragement! 

What’s one thing you wish you knew more about?
Hmmm. I'd like to know more about the brains of teenage boys. They’re interesting creatures, to say the least. (I guess there wouldn't be so many songs written about the species if they weren't complicated, right?)

Favorite bands/musicians?
My playlist has a little bit of everything on it. Lately I've been listening to Lord Huron, Raelynn, and Jon Bellion.

Favorite movie?
Les Miserables with Anne Hathaway. The first time I saw it was with my Mom at the San Marco Theatre. By the end of it, I'm pretty sure we were both holding each other.

Queso or guac?
Guac... with pomegranate seeds!

The Hustle:

Tell us about your hustle:
I'm a country singer and songwriter based in Nashville, TN. I work as a writer for Floor Six Publishing BMI on Music Row. I also currently released my first self-titled EP and just performed at CMA Fest last week!

What does your typical workday look like?
You can usually find me bouncing between recording studio sessions and songwriting. When I'm not on music row here in Nashville, I'm touring around the U.S. playing shows!

How long have you been writing? Where do you think that passion stems from?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Around the age of seven, my mom found journals in my bedroom and asked me where I copied the poems from. She was in disbelief when I said it was my own work. I think that passion stems from my love of words, and the great burn, pursuit, and desire to be heard and understood. This was and is the only outlet that I have; songwriting and singing are my constant. It is a place where I can be unapologetically myself. The stage, a pencil, and a piece paper are where I find my strength.

Have you always been specifically into writing music? What inspires your writing?
By definition, poems are songs that are awaiting a melody. I'm so captivated by the craftiness of intelligent songwriters; my ideas come from everywhere. A billboard, painting, conversations, really anything. I have always been into writing specifically for music, but if a great novel idea comes along, I’ll write it.

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What are some common misconceptions about your job?
I think it's common to think that being a “star” is mostly about the glitz and glamour. At the end of the day, though, there is so much work that goes into practicing, writing, creating your brand and engaging with your audience. Of course, every bit of blood, sweat and tears is worth it! 

What is one of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in your work? How’d you overcome it?
I think one of the biggest obstacles I have had to in face in my career and in general would definitely be my physical differences. I was diagnosed at birth with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC), which is a rare disorder characterized by joint deformities that restrict movement in the hands and feet. I am also almost permanently blind in my right eye. Having these differences can be somewhat intimidating and uncomfortable for others, and creates the impression that I'm incapable of completing certain tasks, when truly the only thing that is actually “different” about me is the way my body works. I have the same hopes and dreams just like everyone else, but I just have to find my own way to reach them.

What makes you unique within the music industry and in the country genre?
I believe I stand out because there aren't too many people in the music industry who seem to break the stereotypical mold of what a famous person should "look like." I'm blessed with the voice that I have and I've been surrounded by people who have helped me hone in on my songwriter skills. Those two machines working together creates a wonderful outcome. My unique "differences" have helped me to create a movement for all people to understand that true freedom is being yourself and not conforming to this world.

How did your time on X Factor affected your everyday life now? 
X Factor was such an amazing opportunity and launching pad for my career. It's crazy how people will still recognize me as I'm walking by on the street, and it's something that I'm not sure I'll ever get used to. It automatically knocks down so many barriers and strikes up very interesting conversations that I wouldn't have ever had the chance to have if it weren't for my time on the show.

How have you managed to balance academics with your career?
I started my homeschooling career in eighth grade when I was a contestant on X Factor, and was a big fan of the idea of having extra time to pursue my career while still focusing on school. Balancing my academics is still something I’m working on to this day, but I seem to have a pretty good system down, and my management team is incredible about balancing my tour dates with other things going on in my life. Having a team that cares is a crucial part of making sure I can utilize all of my time to the best of my ability. I'm going to be a senior this year and honestly cannot wait to graduate!

What would your advice be for staying motivated and inspired in your work?
A big part of staying inspired for me has to do with my faith; I'm always reflecting on the Step One and the reason why I wanted to take that step. A vision board has also been a great tool for me, where I write down all of my goals and make sure to look at them everyday. Pretty soon after some hard work, you're going to be taking down things from the vision board because you achieve them -- how exciting is that?!

What was it like recording your first EP?
It was an experience I will never forget. I believe the EP laid down a lasting foundation and roadmap for my career. It created a space for me to experiment and dive into my art wholeheartedly.

What’s your ultimate goal within the music industry?
To spread light.

What motivates and inspires you?
The triumphs of life, the highs and lows, and just the raw strength and determination of living, breathing human beings inspires me. Writing about this and seeing it firsthand when I get to meet fans at shows is my motivation.

What does success look like to you?
Helping others. By pursuing my career, I believe that it will give me the resources in order to better the lives of others. Telling real stories and really, truly experiencing the human connection to its full capacity is success in my eyes.

What’s next for you?
I just released my new single “Freight Train!" We are also currently writing for my 2018 album release and preparing for a radio tour.

Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Don't let others say you can't or that your goals are unrealistic. Of all the people against you, you are the person who could be the most dangerous or influential in your train of thinking. So believe in yourself, set clear goals, and execute the game plan! Be the boss babe you know you are. Listen, listen, listen and trust the process.

Connect with Rion!

Instagram // Facebook // Website // Spotify // iTunes // Twitter

This interview has been condensed and edited.

In partnership with: StringStrangStrung

Owned and operated by Brandy Brong, StringStrangStrung is a modern string art and decor company right here in Jacksonville, FL. Check out our interview with Brandy here, browse her collection on Etsy, and use offer code 'BWH15' at checkout for 15% off your StringStrangStrung purchase! Free domestic shipping + custom orders always available.

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I Worked Two Jobs to Fund My Dream Career. Here’s Why I’d Do It Again.

I Worked Two Jobs to Fund My Dream Career. Here’s Why I’d Do It Again.