Every once in a blue moon, there comes along an amazing child prodigy who completely changes the soundscape of popular music. Groundbreaking artists as diverse as Aaliyah, Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus, and Michael Jackson sang their way into our hearts as adolescents and made marks on American music that has lasted for generations.
Seventeen-year-old pop singer/songwriter Ru: is the latest musical marvel to emerge onto the scene with soul-stirring new single “Where Did My Life Go.” On the bitter/sweet ballad, she pours her emotions over passionate piano chords as she tells the sorrowful story of a woman who lost her husband.
With wisdom way beyond her years, Ru: has the uncanny ability to walk in other people’s shoes and share their experiences as her own.
“I can write about situations that I’ve never been in before because I listen to other people tell me how they feel and then imagine myself there,” she explains. “My lyrics come from a place of meaning, and I think sometimes, that’s what a lot of music lacks. My music has a lot of meaning to it. People can relate.
Born Taniya Cockburn to a Trinidadian father and Dominican mother and raised in the quiet Richmond, Va. suburb of Chesterfield, Ru:’s life has been filled with the art of noise for as long as she can remember. The second oldest of six children, her household was always lively and full of adventure.
“As someone who’s an artist and always have to work on music, you never get any quiet,” Ru: describes. “It’s something you never get used to it, but of course, I love my siblings. They give me inspiration. It’s never a dull moment.”
Along with the constant clatter of children playing, her home was also filled with the sound of soca music. Her father played in a band. So, when he wasn’t practicing his own music on keyboards, guitars and steel drums around the home, he was blasting traditional Trinidadian tunes through thumping speakers.
“My earliest memory is around music. I’ve always had music around,” she recalls. “My dad did music before me, and he inspired me because he always made sure there was music in my ear.
She continues, “Seeing him write and seeing him perform made me know that I could do that too. I think he kind of always knew that I was going to be an artist. He was planting seeds.”
Young Taniya first fell in love with music when her father bought her a guitar at seven years old. Two years later, he took her to a professional recording studio to get the feel for what was to come.
“I was terrified,” she admits. “I was a shy kid, so I was really, really scared. I was nervous until I got back in the car to leave.”
Over the next few years, Ru: continued to master her guitar and strengthen her voice. She sang in chorus in middle school, and her father began taking her to open mics around Richmond to perform at only 12 years old. “Of course, I was nervous back then, but after a while, I got used to it,” Ru: acknowledges. “It prepared me for singing in front of people.”