We had the good fortune of connecting with Alyssa Ruffin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alyssa, why did you pursue a creative career?
Music has been my passion for as long as I can remember. My mother is also a Singer-Songwriter. When I was five she competed in a singing competition and went on to the finals at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. When she came home, we watched the competition back and there was a little girl named Ashley. She was also five years old and she competed in the same competition as my mom. I have always sung for as long as I can remember. I was always inspired by my mom but in that special moment, seeing another little girl doing it gave me that extra spark to pursue it.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
About my art: I am an Independent Recording Artist. I grew up listening to Country music inspired by Trisha Yearwood, Shania Twain, and LeAnn Rimes. From a young age, I was also very inspired by Mariah Carey, and more into my teen years I got into the pop genre and was inspired by Christina Aguilera, Jewel, and Pink. I also loved Avril Lavigne, No Doubt & Joss Stone. I’m still a big fan of them all!
What sets me apart from others? If you took the Pop/R&B styles of Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera, added Trisha Yearwood, LeAnn Rimes, Jewel, and the fun & Sassy vibes of Shania Twain, meets the edgy, funky & sultry Pop/Rock versions of Gwen Stefani, Avril Lavigne, and Pink, sprinkled with a little bit of that Bluesy R&B/Soul of Joss Stone and blended that into Country Music, that’s me. I think most Pop/Country Artists are typically Country Artists singing to Pop Music. I’m the reverse of that and I think my record will reflect all of that! There’s definitely a blend of everything but even my most rocked out song has that beautiful steel guitar going on!
What am I most proud or excited about: I am most proud of the major artists I have had the honor of opening for. I opened for Country Music Artist Confederate Railroad (“Trashy Women”) at the A.B.A.T.E. of Iowa in 2020. In 2019 I opened for Billboard Chart-topping Rock band Hinder (“Lips of An Angel”), Billboard Award & 2x ASCAP Award winner J.R. Richards of Dishwalla (“Counting Blue Cars”), and Legendary Hip-Hop Artist Coolio (“Dangerous Minds”). In 2018 I opened for AMA Award-winning Rock band Firehouse (“Love of a Lifetime”), and in 2007 for CMA & AMA Award-winning Country Music Artists Sawyer Brown (“Race Is On”). I am also most proud of and very excited about my first record! I recorded my debut single “Collateral Damage” with Grammy voting member, producer, engineer, and co-owner of Audio For The Arts Audrey Martinovich. It is an all-female collaboration that features Jules Quass of Jules and the Howl out of Los Angeles on Keys/Synth, Jenna Joanis out of Madison, Wisconsin on Bass, Drums and Guitar, and Allison Lenz out of Madison, Wisconsin on Cello. This song is a POWER ANTHEM. It was inspired by a poem written by a female military veteran and also inspired from my own personal stories and it is dedicated to all Survivors of Sexual Assault. The Behind the Scenes – Making of Collateral Damage video and the official Collateral Damage music video were produced by M.O.D. Media Productions in Madison, Wisconsin, and the lyric video was produced by an all-female owned and operated company, BSquared Management out of Nashville, Tennessee. It is available now on all music platforms worldwide. Additionally, I recorded my upcoming singles “Enough” and “Where I Need You Now” with Scott Wilson of Saving Abel at Sunshine Recording Studio in Colorado. Those tracks feature Kent Slucher (drummer for Luke Bryan) on drums, Scott Wilson (bassist for Saving Abel) on bass and guitar, and Nashville Pro-Steve Hinson on steel guitar, banjo, and mandolin. Steve has worked with everyone from Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton & Kenny Chesney to Josh Turner, Luke Bryan, and Chris LeDoux.
How did I get to where I am today professionally: My mom would say I’ve been singing since I was a baby. I used to crawl inside her guitar case and sing notes over the top of her while she sang and played guitar. I started performing on stage around age five. I started with the Bill Riley Talent Show at the North Iowa State Fair. When I was seven I stood on top of a stage made out of Pepsi 12 packs and sang inside the Cashwise Grocery store in Mason City, Iowa. My mom took me with her to any place that would let me in, karaoke shows, band practice, gigs with her band, even to her friends’ bands shows and they would get me up to sing with them. I went to work with her when she was a radio announcer at KIA FM in Mason City, Iowa and by age eight, I performed on the Tom Slick Show in Denver, Colorado, performing for 5,000 patrons. At age nine I performed alongside my mom for the Buddy Holly Memorial Anniversary Event for Maria Holly (Buddy Holly’s wife) in Clear Lake, Iowa. At 14, I competed in the International Freedom Festival Singing Competition in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and the Essex Singing and Fiddle Competition in Essex, Ontario, Canada winning in 3 different categories. Growing up, I was always in the choir and honor choir and participated in my school talent shows. In high school, I was in BHS Singers, Honor Choir and I performed the national anthem for most of the basketball games. I was also a Cheerleader at Bennett High School in Bennett, Colorado (GO TIGERS!) so, I performed the National Anthem in my cheerleading uniform at every single game. Just call me the singing cheerleader! As an adult, I performed the national anthem on several occasions for the semi-professional basketball team the Minot Skyrockets. Additionally, I performed the national anthem for Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, Illinois, and most recently for the Santa Barbara Polo and Racket Club in Santa Barbara, California. While living on the east coast, I started my first cover band. We played at the National Harbor and all over Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia (NOVA), we had a blast while it lasted. I was also in a duo and worked as a hired gun for several local bands in the Washington DC area. I played gigs often with a drummer on the east coast who toured with Amy Grant. One show I played with him, I had the honor of playing with Legendary Musician and Lead Guitarist for Wilson Pickett, David Panzer. It was very last minute. We had no setlist, no rehearsals, I met them all at the venue in Maryland, and we just winged it. It was one of the most fun shows I’ve ever played! Furthermore, I am a proud Military wife and Mission 22 Ambassador, a member of the International Singer-Songwriters Association, a brand artist for Produced By A Girl, and a Gritty In Pink member.
Was it easy: The road to where I am now was extremely challenging, I’m one tiny fish in a sea full of sharks but no matter what challenges I face, I always take a moment to recenter, reset, restart, refocus and push through the moments of uncertainty. You have to work hard and keep climbing that never-ending ladder. Perseverance, believing in yourself, and having a strong support system behind you are key.
What are the lessons I’ve learned: That not everyone has your back. Not everyone believes in you. Not everyone wants you to succeed. You have to believe in yourself, even when no one else does. Mind over matter! Keep going, you can get through anything if you put your mind to it!
What do I want the world to know about my brand and story: I didn’t get everything handed to me on a silver platter. I don’t come from money. I had a very difficult upbringing, I survived child abuse and homelessness, I’ve been in abusive relationships, I survived sexual assault/abuse, I’ve had extremely dark moments, I lost my dad to cancer in 2018 and I’ve shed many tears throughout my journey. I have experienced more trauma and grief than the average human being. To add to my life challenges, I became a Military Spouse in 2009, which brings its own stressors and obstacles to overcome. These are the things that drive me to be exceptional! They are part of the “why” I do what I do and why I work twice as hard for everything that I have. I push through all of the anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. I’ve turned all of my grief into motivation and I turned my life stories, trauma, and struggles into songs. These things have allowed me to empower, encourage and uplift others in their journey. My faith has kept me going. Both spiritual and also having faith in myself, and having faith in my journey to succeed. That is what has gotten me to where I am. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oooh shout out to my bestie! We would do the super touristy things the first couple of days! Venice Beach & Santa Monica Pier because it’s just iconic and she’d probably talk me into finally getting on those rides, then I’d take her to the Hollywood Walk of Fame because everyone needs to experience it at least once! I’d drive her down the sunset strip, then we’d probably head to my favorite night life spot, the Rainbow Bar & Grill. So much history there and just such a cool vibe going on all of the time! We’d go to Beverly Hills & Rodeo Drive just because and of course Griffith Park to get a good visual of the Hollywood sign. She’s adventurous and loves to hike like I do so, I’d take her to the main hike by Griffith Observatory and other Mt. Hollywood hikes to start! Then we’d probably hike Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook and maybe Runyon Canyon, or Lake Hollywood Reservoir. I’d take her to eat at Casa Vega where Brad Pitt filmed a scene for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”. Their food is phenomenal, the atmosphere is amazing, the staff is awesome and the movie reference is fun too! Another music artist took me there for my very first time and I’m a big foodie so, of course it’s been saved under my list of favorite restaurants ever since! I’d have to take her to Grand Central Market too. So much delicious food to try! I’d make sure I took her up and down the coast a little too. Long Beach Pier so she can see the lighthouse and get some grub by the water. We’d have to get some beach time in too!! Laguna Beach has some incredible hidden treasures to see and I’d drive her through Malibu Canyon and hit up Neptunes Net as well. The trip wouldn’t be complete without some shopping in Santee Alley! There’s just so much to do and see in and around LA, you really can’t go wrong! There’s something for everyone!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shout out my husband Chuck Ruffin. He is truly the most amazing and selfless human being that I know. He is my biggest fan and I am so incredibly grateful for his love, support, and encouragement to pursue my passion. He is right there for me through every journey I take, all the while being an amazing father to our girls and serving our country in the United States Space Force. He even went as far as pursuing music himself and graduated with an associate’s degree in Music Production from the LA Film School. If that isn’t love and support at its finest! I can only hope and pray that our girls all find a husband just as wonderful and remarkable as he is one day.
My record producer Scott Wilson (also the bassist for Saving Abel) for seeing my potential and wanting the very best for me and for my record! I also want to shoutout Christina Corbitt (Sunshine Studios Live) for giving me incredible opportunities that most people dream about! Having these two on my team has been absolutely amazing! I am so blessed to call these humans my friends/family and I love them to pieces!
My mom for taking me along to her gigs, putting me on a chair at karaoke shows, allowing me to perform with her for Buddy Holly’s wife, Maria Holly. That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a very special event that I’ll remember forever.
To the all-female music communities out there empowering women in music, especially my tribes Produced By A Girl, BSquared Mgmt and Gritty In Pink. They each are so incredible and supportive and just absolutely amazing! There are too many things to mention but I am in awe of what each of their brands are doing for the women in the music industry!
My crew for “Collateral Damage”! Audrey Martinovich (Producer & Engineer), Jules Quass (Keys/Synth), Jenna Joanis (drums, bass & guitar), Allison Lenz (Cello), Audio For The Arts (Recording Studio), M.O.D. Media Productions, BSquared Mgmt, D.T. Hudson Writing Company, and author of “Collateral Damage” poem Lindsay Nowling.
Shoutout to all of my family, friends and fans that make it possible for me to keep doing what I love to do. Every concert ticket you buy, every show you attend, every video you watch, every like, comment and share, every friend you invite to like my page, every shirt, coffee cup or hoody you purchase, every single time you stream my song or play my videos, everything counts. Your support means the world to me and I truly love each and every one of you for allowing me to be able to do this.
Other: SOCIAL: Linktree.com/alyssaruffin