Rett Madison | Navigating Matters of the Heart

There’s Fearlessness in Vulnerability

Written by

Cassey Ayala

Photographed by

Olivia McDowell

Styled by

Chloe Cussen

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Beyond consciousness lie intricacies so deep, sometimes brimming with intensity, and sometimes nowhere to be found. And within those delicate moments where we find ourselves swaying under the sensations of our hearts, we embody the beauty in what it means to simply be human; a phenomenon that at times is effortless, and at other times, perplexing.

Undaunted by what lies beneath the surface, Rett Madison finds solace in embracing vulnerability, and never hesitates to encourage the world around her in doing the same. “I hope that me being candid and vulnerable, at least, gives them a space while they're listening to to feel deeply vulnerable [with] themselves in a way where they can just sit with their real emotions about their grief,” she says. From as far back as she can recall, the artist found herself amid an atmosphere that continuously streamed with endless support. Whether she was humming to herself within the hallways of her childhood home or gracing her stuffed animals with a soft lullaby, she was always aware of not only her affinity for singing, but the depth at which emotions sensitively arise; and it was in times like these, that Rett turned to music. “That kind of was like, an alternative rather than me, processing my emotions like maybe in a journal or a diary. It just came very naturally… that was songwriting.” 

Laced throughout the essence of her very own sound, though, resides the magic of folklore. One could say Rett is an ultimate reincarnation of the realms of West Virginia; it’s only natural that within her soul transpires an innate teller of many tales. However, there’s no denying that she’s unveiled the weight at which music sits at through the influential spirit of her mom. Recalling a distant memory, her face beams with nostalgia as she reminisces upon the long car rides to visit her “guppa”(grandmother). “My mom always would be playing her favorite music on CDs, whether it was Prince or Yusuf / Cat Stevens, or Madonna - Fleetwood Mac, like, just so many, musicians and albums I fell in love with, just from the backseat of my mom's car.” Drawing inspiration from musical icons of the past, Rett immaculately unites her intimate chronicles of genuinity with the tender strums of electric guitar, promising to never leave you behind in her gutting, yet raw, journey of self discovery.

SANDRO dress.

For Rett, her songwriting ventures call upon a deeper level of sensations; one that ranges from the epitome of what simply makes her an earthling. “You know, I would love to be more of a prolific writer. Like I have friends that always have a new song, it seems like. And they can write an amazing song every day. For me, I need more. I sometimes need more perspective or, or time to sit with my feelings and sit in my feelings. And I think a lot of the time, the best songs that I have for me personally come from that.” She’s never been fearful of exploring what inhabits the unknown; she only ever befriends the power at the nucleus of it all. 

“Yeah, I feel it,” she continues. “Feeling like I moved, that I need to say something, and feeling like that's the draw to the guitar and my voice rather than show up to work kind of thing.” Transitioning from her musical debut, Pin-Up Daddy to her latest album, One For Jackie, one thing is certain: I can guarantee you that Rett quite effortlessly reaches downward into the depths of your heart, daringly prising the medley of emotions that reside in that complex, yet familiar abyss, and endlessly commanding you to hear what it has to say. Her emergence to music resides within the crucial junctures in her lifetime; and although released in 2021, her first album never fails to ignite a connection to who she once was and who she is now. “When I still perform the title track, Pin-Up Daddy, that still feels very, you know, forever.” Throughout the instances of grief and growing pains, some way, somehow, Rett embraces a universe in which both her soul of the past and soul of the present, can simply coexist. 

In a heart wrenching recollection, Rett revels in vulnerability as she transforms her emotions that followed the loss of her mother into music amid her latest album, One for Jackie. She delicately takes you on a stroll through the collisions that reside within the walls of her heart, roaming upon the wonders of an ever-winding journey of healing. Undoubtedly, though, Rett promises that there’s solace in turning to flourishing connections when we find ourselves in times of despair. “Just like the smaller moments, I feel like I really try to soak those in more, you know,” she expresses. “I feel like I try to really be present when I'm with the people I love, and not take that time for granted, if anything, it's taught me that we're here one moment, we're not here the next, and just try to appreciate the time that I have with the people I care about.” 

With every passing moment Rett inches closer to her authentic self, always reminding herself that she can rediscover comfort in not only making music, but sharing her artistry with those receptive to her melodies. Much like an old friend, the warmth of a stage spotlight never ceases to naturally embrace her; and in these moments of soulful renditions, Rett is not just a singer but a conduit of pristine emotion, channeling an authenticity that captivates all who have the privilege to listen.“To have people turn up to the show and actually be there for my songs…I was really moved. I truly was joking with the audience that night and was also so serious that my fake eyelashes were going to fall off because I was getting teary eyed. I was like, ‘the glue is not holding, I'm going to cry,”’ she laughs. “If somebody buys a ticket and actually shows up to a show, I'm like, wow, that is real.” Upon her face lies an aura of gratitude, continuing her confession of love for performing live. “It's so amazing to record records, but they feel so different when you play them in real time for people and, and feel that connection and in, in the moment,” she says. There’s something so entrancing about Rett placing her feelings front and center. Time and time again, she’s proven that she’s fearless - making the sensation of others turning to her when they’re in need of being listened to, seem so instinctive. 

It’s no secret that Rett’s superpower is vulnerability. She takes a hold of it, gently, and reveals it to whoever dares to find strength within the times in which those raw emotions unexpectedly arise. Soul to soul, Rett guides you to slowly, but surely embrace the matters of your heart. 

Photographed by Olivia McDowell

Styled by Chloe Cussen

Written by Cassey Ayala

Hair: Paula Peralta

Makeup: Chloe Schlossmann

Photo Assistant: Natalie Ocampo

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Music, Rett Madison, Cassey Ayala, People