By Aaron Wagner
While COVID has put many live-show plans on hold, it didn’t stop Canadian songwriter and artist Nicole Rayy from moving forward with one of her goals.
It’s no secret that women are played on radio a fraction of how often men are, but what’s often not talked about is representation at music festivals. Festivals give artists the ability to connect with their fans, grow their fanbase, and further progress their career.
That’s what fueled Nicole Rayy to try and change things. She has organized HarmoniaFest, an all-female drive-in festival, where she will take the stage along with other notable women in country music with Bree Taylor, Alessia Cohle and Leah Daniels also performing at this new festival.
“HarmoniaFest is something I’ve been dreaming about for a while now. I was so frustrated seeing festival after festival lineup of mostly male artists. I wanted to do something to bring women in country music together because there are so many talented women in this genre! I really hope what comes out of this day is an even stronger female community and platform for theses talented women to be heard. I also hope HarmoniaFest sheds more light on the inequality in the industry and will help support the movement towards giving more opportunities to deserving female artists,” says Rayy.
While this is the first year of HarmoniaFest and due to the current landscape it’s set up as a drive-in, but Rayy has lofty goals for what she wants this event to become.
“I may be dreaming big but HarmoniaFest is definitely something I would like to make a yearly event. I was inspired by Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith fair and I would love to have HarmoniaFest travel across Canada and showcase as many amazing female artists as possible.”
“I have also created an online Facebook live showcase called “All Woman Music” that started back in March. It runs once a month all year long and features 5 females artists performing their original music.”
HarmoniaFest is an event with tons of potential to become a real force and game changer in the industry. It’s all about strength in numbers and Rayy has been feeling the love from other female artists in their support for this event.
Rayy shares, “The response from female artists has made my heart so full! Not only from the talented ladies who are on the lineup but from other artists in the country community as well. I am actually showing a special video at HarmoniaFest that features some amazing female country artists: Alli Walker, Emily Clair, Emily Kate and Jessica Sole all sharing their support for HarmoniaFest and speaking about female empowerment in the industry.”
So while Rayy is fighting for herself and her fellow female friends in country music, it’s bigger than just this current generation of artists. It’s about inspiring the next generation of artists and creating an empowering movement.
“Everything I am doing right now to fight for women in country music is not only for myself and the amazing artists of this generation but for the ones that come up after us. I want the next generation of females to be involved in an industry that is equal and gives equal opportunity to them regardless of their gender. I also hope that I can be a role model for girls who aren’t in the industry. I want young women to know that they can be proud of who they are, that they never have to fit in one box, that you be anyone you want to be as a woman.”
Fans can still purchase tickets to HarmoniaFest, which is sure to be a great night filled with great music.
While Rayy has been busy organizing and preparing for HarmoniaFest that hasn’t stopped her from making music and creating her art. Recently, she released her most new single “Broken Boys.” With over 10,000 streams in the first few days, the song is clearly resonating with country fans who are reminded that we are all a bit broken.
Rayy herself resonated with “Broken Boys” the first time she heard the song. “My first listen through of “Broken Boys”, I immediately fell in love with the honesty of the lyrics. The lyrics are what really pull me in to a song. It’s always been very important to me to sing from a place of honesty, so when I record a song written by someone else, I want the lyrics to be relatable and say something that I would say myself.”
When asked about her favorite lyrical phrase in the song, Rayy immediately went to the first few lines of the song.
“There are so many amazing lines in this song, but some of my favorite lyrics are in the first couple lines. “My daddy taught me that if something ain’t working you don’t just throw it away. Calloused hands and a wrench in his pocket, yeah he could fix anything”. My dad is truly a jack of all trades, he has always been the type of guy to find a way to fix pretty much everything. I find those lyrics really capture that image I have of my dad and why I believe there is always a way to help repair something or someone.”
At the end of the day, Rayy hopes that fans relate to the song and realize that everyone is a little broken. There’s no shame in feeling that way as we’ve all been there are most likely all currently broken by something.
“Broken Boys is a song I believe so many of us can relate to. We have all fallen for that person that we think we can change. I’ve always been drawn to helping people and being able to fix things. But in a way this song reminds us that we are all a little broken and there is nothing wrong with helping someone carry their baggage but Never at the expense of ourselves.”