Reneé has known she wanted to be a singer since the age of four, when she first performed the Andre Crouch classic, “Through It All,” as a solo during a service in a tiny, hill country church. “I was too short to reach the podium, so they made me stand on a chair,” laughs Austin. “That was my induction into the musical world.“ By 15, she’d written her first song and — as the numerous church groups traveling through her area gradually inspired her — it became ever more clear that she too wanted to tour, perform and record.
Austin relocated to Minneapolis where her music career began pulling wholly new opportunities together. She was able to assemble a whip-smart band, and in 1997 independently released her debut CD, "Dancin’ With Mr. Blue", which was honored locally as Best Blues Recording by the Minnesota Music Academy (MMA). Soon, Austin was securing opening slots for heavy-hitters Robert Cray, Lonnie Brooks and Delbert McClinton, to name just a few. In fact, Renee specifically rallied with promoters to secure a show with McClinton, and their resulting two-night, two-city bill in March 2003 planted the seed that eventually grew into the duet ballad, “Pretend We Never Met,” on Sweet Talk. Delbert witnessed the band's entire first night performance and was so taken with her voice that he immediately approached her at the foot of the stage after the show. “Girl ? you ring my bell!” he eed. He offered her a prestigious performance spot on his annual Sandy Beaches Cruise in January 2004.
"Sweet Talk" and the critical reaction that followed put Reneé on the map. Downbeat magazine awarded it 3 (?) stars. The blues community took notice by nominating the CD for a W.C. Handy Award for “Best New Artist Debut.” At the Handy Awards Show in Memphis she put on a memorable performance that generated an industry buzz. Another highlight was being invited to the Ground Zero club in Clarksdale, Mississippi to take part in the filming of a PBS-TV production called “Blues Divas.” It was quite an honor, considering the heady line-up of the other singers in the program - Mavis Staples, Ann Peeples, Denise LaSalle, Odetta, Irma Thomas, and Bettye Lavette.
"Right About Love", delivers on the promise of her previous release, reaffirming that her dramatic voice is an instrument that commands respect and knows few boundaries, and that her talent is a force to be reckoned with. Right About Love also continues Austin’s musical journey, mixing blues, roadhouse rock and gospel anchored by her formidable vocal prowess, emotional commitment to every note and evocative spins on time-honored American roots music. Right About Love finds Austin blossoming fully as a vocalist, writer, and co-producer. One standout tune is “Mouth of the Delta,” which she co-wrote with David Grissom, musical director for the Dixie Chicks. Commenting on the CD, Austin said, “I approached writing for this project with the intent of making music that would again take the listener on a ride thru everyday life. When I sat down to create this disc, I wanted to focus in on one thing. Who is Reneé Austin? I came to the conclusion that my Texas roots are the foundation to my music. People ask me all the time ‘What kind of music do you do?’ I tell them Roadhouse Soul - blending Blues/Roots, Country and Gospel/Soul.”
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