RaeLynn – who finished third on Blake Shelton’s team during the second season of “The Voice” – stopped by the USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir, Va., on Sunday to hang out with troops and their families. Her visit included an acoustic performance, along with some photos and autographs.
The 19-year-old Baytown, Texas, native – who is currently on tour with country stars Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley and Kix Brooks – also took time Monday morning for a Q&A with the USO where she discussed her brother’s service in the Army’s special forces, learning the ropes of the country music industry and what it’s like to sing her own songs in front of big crowds.
What was your experience at Fort Belvoir like?
It was such a great experience. It was my first time to ever go to a military base and sing and be with the soldiers. … I really appreciated it because my brother’s in the military.
What stuck out to you from playing at Fort Belvoir and visiting the troops?
My favorite interactions were with the kids. … To see when you come and sing for them how excited they get, because people don’t come [on base] a lot.
Your brother is an Army green beret. How has that affected your life and how has it affected your family?
It’s been hard because we haven’t got to see him much in the last two years. He’s about to [deploy to Okinawa, Japan]. … It’s just been a learning thing for us because that’s his dream: just like it’s my dream to be a singer, it’s his dream to be in the Army, so we just have to support him. We’re going to miss him, but that just comes with it, you know?
What’s the most surprising thing people might not know about “The Voice” competition?
I think the most surprising thing is people think that show is just so competitive and that everyone’s just on pins and needles and everybody’s just trying to beat out each other. But really, that show is just a big family. We all wanted the best for each other. … We all still talk to each other to this day. … I’m really close to my friend Ashley De La Rosa, she was on my season. I’m good friends with [“The Voice” Season 3 winner] Cassadee Pope, and then the winner of my Season 2 Jermaine Paul.
How far away is your debut album?
We’re working on it. I’m hoping for early next year. … I’m going to radio in about a month-and-a-half. We’ll be picking a single and then we’ll be hitting radio.
You signed a music publishing deal in April and you’ve been working on your debut album. What’s it been like to get a glimpse of the business side of the industry?
When I was younger, I would just listen to the radio and watch people perform, and I thought it was just like a hobby. So one thing about being in the business is that there’s a strategy to getting songs up on the charts. There’s a strategy when people are up on stage. … It’s not just a hobby. It’s a job.
What’s it been like on tour so far?
It’s been awesome. I’ve had a great time with Miranda. … It’s really cool to see people take your music in. It’s really cool to play songs that you’ve written. My songs are kind of like my babies. When I sing them out, it’s kind of nerve-wracking. … It’s been really cool to see how receptive the crowds have been. They love it, and that’s just great.
–Interview by Eric Brandner, USO Director of Story Development