She's a superstar in the making and Re'h is about to hit the national stage on American Idol Sunday night!
- It's been-- Hmm. How would I describe it? The experience of it all has been surreal. The fact that I sang in front of Lionel Richie, and Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan is crazy. But so far I'm definitely enjoying myself.
- Did you ever imagine you'd get to the point in your singing career that you would be able to sing in front of those just star studded celebrities?
- No. Like I said, it was really surreal. And it was-- it was surprising to me that I'm even-- that I even made it this far in my "America Idol" journey as well. But I'm grateful for the opportunity and-- I'm just walking the path.
- Tell us a little bit about your growing up. You grew up in Houston. What was it like? How did that-- how did being a Texan shape you into who you are today?
- Well, I'm so proud to be a Houstonian. My early years, I was raised in Missouri City. I was born and raised in Missouri City and then I moved to the South East side of Houston, Texas. And I definitely think Houston made me-- growing up in Houston made me who I am today.
The southern hospitality and also just being about family and the love. It definitely shaped me into who I am as an artist. We have some great artists also who came out of Houston, Texas.
- Just a few, right? Just a few.
- Just-- you know. You know, just a few.
- So do you still have family who lives in Missouri City or in Houston?
- I do. I have family all over Houston, Texas. And you know how they kind of say, well, Missouri City is Missouri City.
It's not really Houston, but it's all Houston. So I have family in Houston. I have family and all sides of Houston. I have family in Pearland, Sugarland, Fresno, the Southeast side of Houston. So all over.
- You-- I see that you're in the US Army National Guard.
- I am.
- Tell me a little bit about that and how you got to that step in your life. How did you decide to join the National Guard?
- Surprisingly, it was a shocker for me because I'm really girly. And honestly, God told me to go.
- Simple as that?
- That's it. I didn't understand it, but I just felt the tugging and heard him, and felt him tell me to go. So I did and I'm glad I listened. It's been the best decision that I've ever made. The hardest decision I ever made and the toughest journey that I've been on thus far, but I'm really glad I listened.
- And how long have you been in the National Guard?
- It'll make eight years in a few months from now.
- Gotcha. And what are some of the things that you've had-- that you've been able to do with them during your time serving with them?
- Well as of now, I'm the lead vocalist in the Army band, The 40th Infantry Division band in Los Alamitos, California. I've been afforded opportunities to sing at sporting events around the state. Like I sang at the Staples Center last year.
I've been able to sing and honor the military, doing military honors at the Mighty Ducks game. And also ceremonies just around the state where I'm honoring soldiers who are getting-- promoted, promotion ceremonies and things of that nature. So.
- So what are you doing currently in the National Guard in LA? What's kind of your role right now?
- I'm still in a band, but I am currently helping vaccinate America. I'm currently helping with the vaccination operation. And I am so proud that I was chosen to-- volun-told, but chosen. I like chosen better, to be a part of this mission.
And I think it just means the world to be able to go out, as I like to say. Because I get out of the Army in a few months. But for this to be like my last official mission, it does my heart well.
- How does it-- I don't know. Are you close to patients as people are getting their shots? Like, do you see the expressions on their faces when they finally get that vaccine?
- They're all excited.
- And they take it in because it's like, they love the whole experience of number one, being able to speak and talk to me and all of my battle buddies. And we're human just like they are. But I don't know if they get that interaction with military soldiers on the daily like I do. But they're really excited and they just tell us how grateful they are and thank us for our service all the time. So.
- That's awesome. And I also see in your bio you're currently-- you're still a student at USC.
- Yes. In popular music performance program.
- So, how do you-- Re'h, how do you have time to fit all this into your life?
- It's a struggle every day. I have-- I don't know how I do it. But-- like I said earlier, I'm walking a path and God is giving me strength to be able to keep moving forward. And it's something that I'm passionate about.
I'm passionate about service and I'm also passionate about music and performance. So people make time for what they want to make time for. And it's hard work but I'm definitely enjoying myself and enjoying the journey.
- Let's talk about "Idol" briefly. How did you-- How did you decide you wanted to audition for this season of "American Idol"?
- Well, I definitely believe-- I know a lot of people say this, my family and my friends told me to audition all the time. For all of these years, but I never thought that I would actually be on "American Idol", but I definitely-- I definitely believe that it's necessary for my journey. And the music and my voice, all of that is a part of my purpose and what I plan to serve humanity with. But I definitely do believe that "American Idol" is a part of-- is necessary for my journey.
- How has COVID impacted "Idol" this year as far as just the production? What has it been like to be there in the middle of a pandemic?
- They were very, very, very safe. We took the safety precautions, everything. We had to be really, really safe and-- But I do feel that's a very good care of us and still are. So.
- During Hollywood week, obviously, you guys get in groups and you're closer to people. You still feel like you're very safe and all the precautions that the show has taken?
- Definitely. Definitely. Even though we-- They'll have to do groups and all of that, they still took-- nothing changes.
- Yeah. Stay-- do proper social distancing, all of that.
- Cool. So Re'h, you're 27. You're in-- you're in the National Guard. You're at USC. You're "American Idol".
Can you look back on your life and just think of how you got here? What do you think when you just think of the 27 years you've had on Earth and how you gotten to this part of your life-- point in your life?
- I've been through so much. I have five siblings. So-- and growing up, as you all will-- will find out more about my story as it unfolds on my journey with "American Idol". But just looking back-- and I was thinking about it. I was just having this conversation with my uncle the other day.
I was like, can you believe I actually moved across-- I moved from Houston, Texas to Los Angeles. Literally drove my car with no acceptance letter to USC, a school where the acceptance rate is 13% acceptance rate. I moved across the world-- I moved-- Well not the world, but I moved across the country with no acceptance letter to this school and I was like, they have to let me in.
My battle buddies, like, talked me up. Like, they're crazy if they don't let you in. And just thinking back on it now, like-- I'm like I'm really about to be a senior at USC next year. I'm on "American Idol". I'm getting out of the Army.
How did I even-- I really joined the Army? Thinking about that, I'm so girly and I'm at the end of this journey. But I've come to the realization that I'm just a servant. That's who I am. I'm a servant and even though I'll be hanging on my bootstraps soon, my service will just take on a different form.
So it's a never ending and that's probably-- not a part of the question, but I just feel the need to say it so. Just looking back on my life and seeing where I am now, I can definitely say that it's been a whirlwind. But I'm so grateful for every heartache and every situation that's come about.
Every obstacle that's been thrown in a way and-- Like I said twice before, I'm walking a path and just trying to enjoy the journey. But I'm grateful. I'm definitely grateful.
- Yeah. What would you say to kids this this weekend when you're on "American Idol" that are going to see you singing? They're going to hear your story. All about you, where you've gotten with your life.
What would you say to them if they say, Re'h, I want to be I want to be a star like you. I want to be-- I want to follow your-- I want to follow my dreams. What would you say to those kids?
- To just do it. Anything is possible. I remember being five-years-old. I always loved to sing. I grew up in a church. So I would watch the praise team leader. I would always watch her lips. I found it amazing.
And I didn't know that I had the gift, that God had placed it inside of me yet. But I remember being five-years-old on the floor in my living room watching "Moesha". I tell this story sometimes. Watching "Moesha" and it was the Brandy meets Moesha episode.
And it was the first time I had seen someone who looks like me on television, but also someone singing that had the voice of an angel. And I was like, I want to do that. Like, I want to do that. And that day, she gave me a dream that day. It was 1998. I remember it.
She gave me a dream. So I know how important it is-- representation, number one. I know how important that is. And I have little nieces who look up to me and who admire me. And I don't want to let them down, but I definitely tell them all the time, anything is possible.
Anything is possible. You just-- you're gonna have to work hard, but anything is possible. You can be whatever you want to be.
- Yeah. I was gonna-- I was going to say, obviously representation does matter and has obviously had a profound impact on your life. And I hope that you-- I hope that you can see that, that's good. That you may have the impact on somebody else's life.
- Right. And I think about things-- I used to say all the time, like, I have three, in no particular order, like, my top three favorite artists of all time. Toni Braxton, Patrice Russian and Brandy. And I used to say all the time, one day I'm gonna be like-- I'm gonna be like Toni Braxton. And I'm going to learn how to play the piano like Patrice Russian.
I'm gonna be singing, you know, like Brandy. And I have a really-- I always got teased because I have a deep voice. And so me and Toni just-- I love them so much. But now, it's like maybe I can be there for somebody else? That's crazy.
- I think I-- worthy is the word this coming to mind. Not sure-- Well, I won't say that I'm not, but I'll just say that God can trust me with that responsibility.
- Can you-- I don't know if you're allowed to share what song you sang for the judges. Can you tell us what song you sang?
- I want it to be a surprise. Even if I can share it, I'll just make it a surprise. But I'll give you a little hint. Well, they gave you a hint. In regards to the outfits.
- Mm-hmm, OK.
- So we gonna take it. Back
- We're going to do a dedication. And I'm going to pay homage to the queen, darling.
- Re'h, what else would you like to add that I haven't asked you about so far?
- Hmm-- What would I like to add? I would just like to say thank you. I want to thank everyone who has supported me thus far. All of my battle buddies who are rooting for me, especially in Houston. They've been like, how are you gonna leave Houston and go to California?
You represent us. So this is for you guys. And I just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me and continues to support. I'm really, really grateful and I am looking forward to continuing my journey and my service.