Written By Kelly Holm
Nashville native Riley Clemmons has long been rooted in her community. A songwriter from the age of six, she’s starred in community theatre productions, headlined local music venues and was discovered performing in a pageant at school.
“I wanted to be an artist from as early as I can remember,” Clemmons shares. “When I met my manager at age 13, it started feeling like something I could really hone in on and pursue.”
Since then, she’s risen to prominence on the Contemporary Christian charts, beyond just her place of origin— but, as many of us have been forced to realize lately, there’s no place like home. After COVID-19 cancelled the video shoot for her latest single, “Over and Over,” the singer-songwriter decided to DIY a music video with help from her friends and family.
“We still wanted to create something special that captured the song, and so I decided I was going to take a stab at directing a video at home with just my family and I,” Clemmons said. “We got to use old family home footage, footage of me and my family during social isolation, and never-before-seen behind-the-scenes footage. It was a special video.”
There’s also a cute dog in it, too. As for the song itself, “Over and Over” features Lauren Alaina and is an ode to a “God of second chances.”
“Staring at a mountain thought I had already climbed/The weight of my mistakes hold me down like I’m paralyzed,” Clemmons sings in the first verse. “How many times have I asked for grace/Standing in the same broken place/I’ve given you every good reason to walk away… But somehow you choose me.”
Clemmons started writing the song more than a year ago, originally with just the phrase “Over and Over” and a loose concept in mind for its direction.
“From there, I got to collaborate with some of my favorite writers and producers: Colby Wedgeworth, Jordan Sapp and Ethan Hulse. We wrote the song in a day, sent it around to the team and immediately felt like it was something special,” she said. “My team was in talks of doing a duet for this song, and I remember my manager calling me one day, asking about Lauren [Alaina] being a possible collaborator. Immediately it was a yes from me.”
Since shooting the video, Clemmons has begun to craft new music while social distancing, and is taking inspiration from favorite songs like “Natural Woman” and “What a Fool Believes.” Influenced by gospel and soul sounds, her creative muses include Stevie Wonder and Kirk Franklin, as well as non-musical creators like Albert Einstein.
“I’ve been writing and finding inspiration alone a good bit lately. I’ve also done a lot of online sessions with producers and writers I love,” she says. “Writing has definitely presented new challenges lately, but it’s also been simplified in a lot of beautiful ways… it can be difficult to stay true to your message, your heart, your craft when it’s so easy to look around at what everyone else is doing.”
Through her music, Clemmons wants to remind fans and admirers that “There is always hope. You are loved” and to “stay true.” She promises that more new material is on the way for 2020, but what else would she like to do in the future, when quarantine finally ends?
“Madison Square Garden is definitely a dream venue,” she says. “I would fully lose my mind if Stevie Wonder was there. I think I’ll be able to say… ‘I made it’ as I continue to watch how the music is interacting with listeners [and] meeting them and their stories where they’re at. That’s the sweetest part of it all.”
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