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Althea Rene Artist Interview

Althea Rene made history by being the first artist to record a flute-featured single to rank #1 on the SmoothJazz and Billboard charts.  She’s earned the 2021 Presidential Volunteer Service Award, which honors individuals whose service positively impacts communities and encourages those around them to take action.  When she’s not running her non-profit organization, Althea Rene tours the world as a performing/recording artist, and she hosts her Colors & Song Jazz Fest every October in beautiful San Antonio, TX.

Can you give us five career highlights?

1.       I performed in beautiful Dubai for the Dubai International Jazz Festival in 2012

2.       My first record deal was a P&D deal many years ago (publishing and distribution).  However, I am most proud of my recording deal with Trippin & Rhythm in 2012

3.       I became a published author in 2017.  The title of my book is “Becoming Chocolate Barbie – a guide for professional women in the music business.”  Because the music business has changed so much since the Covid pandemic, I am writing another book that is more current.

4.       I hosted my very own jazz festival for the first time in 2021.  Although I have hosted many events over the years, my annual jazz fest is the first time that I’ve coordinated something of this size before. The Althea Rene Colors & Song Jazz Fest is an annual event held in beautiful San Antonio, Texas every October.

5.       I made history by being the first artist to have a flute-featured single to become ranked number one on the Billboard and SmoothJazz charts.

How about 3 pivotal moments that were essential to creating the artist that you’ve become?

1.       I stay true to my unique style and being myself.  I don’t try not to imitate other artists.

2.       Rather than be a ‘sideman’ for someone else’s career, I decided to flourish as a solo artist.

3.       Working as a deputy sheriff in Detroit for more than 10 years I developed a toughness that I did not have before.  I believe that it gave me the tenacity to emotionally and psychologically defend myself against the impediments of musical success.  Female performing artists have a challenge not shared by most men.  I do not allow myself to be sexually objectified by my male counterparts.

What do you like best about performing?

I love the raw energy that comes from performing in front of new fans.  I love creating an experience through the way I dress and my presentation.  I love to see it all come together on stage.  Sharing my original music with my fans and watching their reaction feels amazing.

CD releases?

·         Flute Talks (2000)

·         Chocolate Rush (2002)

·         In the Moment (2006)

·         No Restrictions (2008)

·         In the Flow (2013)

·         Live in Detroit (2015)

·         Unstoppable (2017)

·         Flawsome (2019)

·         Pastel Leather (2022)

What does your schedule look like for the next six months?

I have many concerts scheduled throughout 2023.  However, my highlighted performances are as follows:

·         The Sea Breeze Jazz Festival in Panama City, Florida (April 2023)

·         The Dave Koz & Friends at Sea Jazz Cruise in Barcelona, Spain (May 2023)

·         The Brian Culbertson Napa Valley Jazz Getaway in California (June 2023)

What are your goals, personally and professionally?

My primary personal goal is to maintain good health and fitness.  My family and friends call me a ‘health nut’ and I sometimes get playfully teased about my diet.  Physical and mental wellness is the most important thing in my life.

With a passion to educate, entertain, and inspire young people with music and art, I co-founded a non-profit organization that supplements the creative arts curriculums of public and private high schools by mentoring talented musicians and artists (14 to 18 years old) in greater San Antonio. The students experience mentorship in skills like live performances, songwriting, publishing, and branding.

Another one of my professional goals is to complete my second book which provides an up-to-date business roadmap for aspiring young performing artists.  Because the economic shutdown resulting from the pandemic changed the music industry, my new book will highlight some of the greatest changes.

What inspires you the most in life?

Somebody always knows “more” and I am inspired to continue learning and growing.  There is always room to get better.  I love sharing knowledge and experience I have acquired with others.

What has been your greatest personal challenge?

Breaking into a male-dominated industry; (while working to make the flute more relevant) was one of my greatest professional challenges.  Working in that capacity as a black female/instrumentalist added to the complexity.

My greatest personal challenge was caring for my mother during her final days. She suffered from dementia, and I ultimately lost her in August 2021.

What has been your greatest professional challenge?

The flute is a ‘soft voiced’ woodwind.  Performing on stage alongside loud horns and electronic instruments that typically have a strong volume, I had to develop my own creative style.  Competing with louder musicians (while appearing happy and comfortable) was a great challenge early in my career.  Now it’s just part of who I am.

Who were your music mentors?  And what did you learn from them?

I have learned from many mentors over the years.  However, my most influential flute mentors were Ian Anderson, Hubert Laws, and Dave Valentine.  I learned that you must work really hard, while not comparing yourself or your talent with anyone else.  You must master your own craft your way. Years before her passing, I had a very open conversation with the late/great jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson.  She shared some of her experiences as a woman in the music industry during the 1950s and 60s.   She expressed that ladies need to be mindful of improper things powerful men may try to influence eager young women to do. Surrounding yourself with people that genuinely have your best interest (although very challenging) is arguably the most important part of longevity in the entertainment industry.

Can you give us five quirky, secret, fun hobbies or passions?

Some of my hobbies and passions are:

1.       I love palates.  Health and wellness are very important to me.

2.       I love preparing food with kitchen gadgets like my air fryer.

3.       I have a strong interest in fashion.  Some people call me a “glamazon.”

4.       I love traveling the world with my husband.

5.       I am a huge fan of animal documentaries, and I love learning new things.

What three things would you offer as advice for a young flutist?

Three things I would tell young aspiring flutists would be:

  1. Learn as much as you can about different types of music.  Different music genres can teach you a lot, and you can steal ideas from one genre to help create cool concepts in another.
  2. Practice your scales daily.  Start slowly and gradually increase your speed
  3. Work on your tone and breathing.  Please do not get discouraged. If you keep practicing, you will get better over time.

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