Today we’d like to introduce you to Claire Reneé.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Claire. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’m a singer/songwriter, dancer, and fitness professional. I’d say I have a unique background compared to most people in music. I started dancing at the age of four and sang mostly in the church till about 14. I am classically trained and have learned many other dance styles along the way. In my youth, I studied at the Dance Theatre of Harlem. In High School, I trained at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater as a dance major at Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan. I had plans of becoming a prominent professional dancer/choreographer either in the concert dance scene or on the commercial dance circuit. Later in High School, plans changed as I realized I had more to say as a complete artist. I found this best suited me and decided to go to college for music and music business.
As a performer who was already working commercially and auditioning in High School, I realized artists are not supported and fought for enough. The business is often not on our side. I also felt going to college for dance would be four years of more training to perform. The thought of navigating the politics of concert dance was something that did not interest me, lol. I felt it was best to begin my dance career since it’s a somewhat short career for most. I had many successes and touring opportunities in dance while getting a college education.
I ended up going to three different music schools Manhattanville College, Berklee College of Music, and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. I learned so much about myself as a songwriter, vocalist, and all-around artiste. I became confident enough to call myself a musical artist and started to trust my voice through music. I began to focus on creating and releasing music and getting my voice heard.
In turn, that commitment to my music pushed me to leave the instability and a bit of the toxicity of the commercial dance scene. I worked retail and front desk jobs that helped me have a steady paycheck to be able to live and invest in my music. One place I ended up working was SoulCycle. I worked on the East and West Coast and decided to leave the front desk position and audition to be an instructor. Fitness found me! I’m glad it did, and I’m grateful to amazing fitness professionals like Angela Manuel Davis for encouraging me to go for it. I auditioned, and clearly, it worked out since I can say I have been teaching for four years now.
My life currently has been a beautiful balance of continuing to dance and choreograph, incorporating dance into my shows and visuals, focusing on my music career, and teaching at SoulCycle. I get to be creative in everything that I do, and I can walk in my purpose. I take pride in the opportunity to be a light for others, whether it’s through my music, the way I motivate and teach, or choosing to use movement to convey a message. My ultimate dream is to be able to focus on my music career full time while being able to travel the world performing. Holding fitness and wellness events along the way would be the cherry on top. I’m a multifaceted artist and woman. I have so much to share with the world in a versatile and fresh way. I want to change the idea of what the average female R&B/Soul artist is viewed as.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
None of my journey has been particularly smooth. I’ve actually cried and gotten frustrated a lot and had monumental moments I thought I’d never experience. I’ve worked extremely hard at everything I do because being “okay” was never really an option growing up. Dance requires a lot of focus, discipline, and sweat. I think my classical dance training prepared me for life. The bumps along the way were all just lessons and helped me learn to fall and get up gracefully.
As a young black woman one struggle (I think it’s safe to say many black and WOC go through) is having to work ten times harder to get the same opportunities others get easily. I have had many moments where I know I excelled and looked fabulous(lol) and didn’t get something simply because I don’t fit a particular look or aesthetic. I still battle with that. It’s part of being in the fitness and entertainment industries to be honest.
Another struggle I have faced and still face is being underestimated. I have a small frame and young face, but I am not afraid to speak honestly and directly. That throws many off because in the industries I work in people expect docile and obedient to come with the look. I’m not hard to work with, I just believe in myself, every project or job I commit to, and making sure I can go home with my integrity at the end of the day.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
As someone who sings, writes, dances, and teaches in the fitness space, I realize I look like a jack of all trades and master of none. I am confident saying that I do all of these things very well, and have a passion and understanding for each. I’m known for my music but depending on how you were introduced to me, folks may know me for my dance or fitness background. This is all so interesting for me because how people engage and connect with me varies.
I’m most proud of recent accomplishments like being able to balance my fitness and music careers. I was able to release an album in Japan last year in 2018 and I’m still not over it. I’m also super happy about all the music I have coming in the new year. I worked really hard to write songs, track my own vocals, and do all the other things that come with being an independent artist(including the business side). I have two really dope projects coming in 2020 that took a lot out of me but helped me heal. I’m proud I did all of this while balancing a teaching schedule of 8-10 physically and emotionally demanding classes at SoulCycle.
I think what sets me apart from others is I’m simply myself in everything I do. Our superpower is our uniqueness and truly owning and living it. I have been the girl who wanted to be loved and liked by everyone and wanted to play the industry game to succeed. I grew tired and my spirit got weary. I set myself to a higher standard and started to move on my own accord in my own time. Whether I am motivating in that SoulCycle room, singing, writing, posting on IG, in a meeting, or dancing….you know I’m being Claire Reneé.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Proudest moment of my career so far has to be seeing how far my project “Let Me Glo” has gone. It resonated deeply with many around the world. It’s humbling to know your music is felt. I got an opportunity to drop an exclusive album version of it in Japan in 2018. Seeing your face on display in Tower Records in Japan and your CD below is an amazing feeling. Also performing in Vienna was really cool.
Meeting Whitney Houston, Kanye, and Britney Spears was really awesome too. Those are moments in my dance career I cherish.
- Website: www.clairereneemusic.com
- Instagram: @artisterenee
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clairereneemusic/
- Twitter: @artisterenee
- Other: https://linktr.ee/artisterenee Find all things Claire in one spot
Angelo K and Deidra Acquah