Nashville singer/songwriter Renée Wahl has a secret — countless secrets, actually.
In addition to her bandmates, known collectively as the Sworn Secrets, Wahl accumulated a career full of others as a captain in the U.S. Air Force with top-secret clearance when assigned to the National Security Agency.
Perhaps her duties in the world of covert operations helped her hone her authenticity as a songwriter and as a performer. So does playing the very stages in East Nashville that are the epicenter of the burgeoning singer/songwriter-centric scene that’s being described as Nashville’s New Outlaw movement. And now, the Pennsylvania native is carving out her own space at the recently rediscovered intersection where authentic Nashville songwriting meets Music Row.
Inspired by groundbreaking artists including Neko Case, Buddy and Julie Miller, Linda Ronstadt, and Ryan Adams , Wahl deftly crafts accessible songs that explore the human experience. From escaping emotional torment to finding a short-term solution to a temporary loneliness problem, few topics are off limits when it comes to Wahl’s powerful and personal approach to songwriting.
“Songwriting can be very personal, and in some ways, it can be secretive,” Wahl says. “When writing, I dig deep, and that sometimes brings up subjects that I might not normally talk about in an open environment.”
The youngest of four in her blue-collar family, Wahl earned an undergraduate degree in physics from East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania and a masters in aeronautics from the acclaimed Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. While show business may be in her blood — her grandmother was a Vaudeville singer and tap/acrobat — she owes her interest in the Air Force to her grandfather, who served as a tail-gunner on a B29 “Superfortress” in World War II as part of the group that supported the Enola Gay. Another forebear took part in the American Revolution and, as an owner of two whiskey stills, later participated in the historic Whiskey Rebellion of 1791.
“I am so grateful for having the opportunity to serve my country in such a meaningful way, and I appreciate the experiences it provided me,” Wahl says. “I draw upon those, a lot actually, in songwriting. Plus, they help me deal with some of the rigors of this crazy industry.”
Also helping her “deal with the rigors” of being an independent artist in Nashville’s dynamic music industry is her drive to be as exciting on stage as she is honest in her songwriting.
Wahl also challenges herself to find the next level in her recordings. Toward that end, Wahl invited iconic singer/songwriter and producer Buddy Miller to sing on her upcoming single “Wild Living.” The song will available this fall when she releases the first of two EPs due out before year’s end. Each was produced by Patterson Barrett, who’s worked with, among others, Buddy Miller, Jerry Jeff Walker and Gurf Morlix.
In 2011, Wahl self-released Cumberland Moonshine, a full-length LP, to critical praise. She has also had cuts on other artists’ albums, including three for Nashville’s own Bill Maier. Television and film placements include a CBS-produced documentary and the Geordie Shore, British equivalent to Jersey Shore.
With the release of her highly anticipated EP this fall, secrets are about to be revealed…
Bio Credit: Skip Anderson