An interview with singer and songwriter Alyssa Ruffin about her latest award win and projects.
Hi Alyssa, so great catching up with you again, since we last spoke, so many exciting things have happened. Tell us about your win at the Josey Music Awards, what an achievement!
So many great things have been happening. I won Modern Country Female Vocalist of the Year at The Josie Music Awards. The JMA’s took place on September 17th & 18th at the Country Tonite Theatre in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It is the largest independent music awards show in the world. They had 38,997 submissions this year. That is nearly double the yearly Grammy submission average. That just goes to show how big this event is becoming, how much work goes into making the JMA’s a success each year, and how amazing it is to even be nominated. One nomination is an honor in itself. To be nominated in 4 categories is absolutely incredible and to win in any category, is nothing short of a blessing. I am so humbled and truly honored. What Josie Passantino-Boone and Tinamarie Passantino do for the independent music industry as a whole, is absolutely phenomenal and I’m so very grateful to have found the JMA family and Josie network. They are making big moves! I’m looking forward to their future success, I can’t wait to see the upcoming book, and I hope to continue being a part of it all.
What kind of emotions were running through your head when the winner was announced with your name?
I was in utter shock! I looked at my husband and said out loud “Babe, I won! They just called my name!” It was one of those things where time stood still for a moment. It seemed like I sat there in shock for a minute but realistically it was only a few seconds. Strangely enough, I didn’t cry on stage. Instead, the adrenaline was pumping and as soon as I got back to my seat, my eyes welled up with emotion. It was like a delayed reaction, the tears just started rolling! Tears of joy! It’s an emotional moment for anyone who has worked their entire life towards a specific goal, and finally receiving recognition for your efforts. I don’t have a management team, booking agency, Artist Relations, PR firm I’m working with or anything like that. Aside from my husband Chuck Ruffin booking my very first band nearly a decade ago on the east coast, I have done everything to date, solely on my own. A lot of blood sweat and a great deal of tears.
Did you practice and prepare your speech or was it more spur of the moment?
No, ha! I was honestly just so happy to be nominated. I was not expecting to win at all, so I didn’t prepare anything. I wish I had, it’s always a surprise what comes out of my mouth on the spot. I’m just glad the good lord guided my words that day. I think I had a partial blackout. I was happy, smiling, on stage waiting to accept my award. I had this whole speech thought out in my head while I was standing there on stage. I was going to thank God, thank my husband and kids, my mom for getting me started in music and pushing me all of those years. I was going to thank my family, friends, and fans, telling myself “don’t forget to smile”, etc. I walked up to the podium, I don’t even know if I hugged Tinamarie when she handed me my award, I hope I did. I looked out at the audience and I really could only see the front row. The bright stage lights sort of blurred the rest of the theater. I tried to look at the folks in the front row and then that was it. Blackout. I was talking, I could hear everyone clapping, cheering and whistling and the next thing I knew, I was back at my seat crying. I had been speaking words but had no control over what I said. It was a crazy experience for sure and if it weren’t for my husband recording, I wouldn’t have a clue what I actually said in those moments. It was all so unexpected. I’m still over the moon about it! This was a moment in time that I will remember forever. You can view the official winners list here: www.josiemusicawards.com/2021-official-winner-list
You also took part in the Global Green “Music for the Planet” concert earlier this year, tell us about that:
Global Green’s “Music For The Planet” was a virtual benefit for people, places and the planet, via the iconic Troubadour in West Hollywood, California. I performed alongside an incredible lineup of musicians including Grammy Award-winner Lisa Loeb, Paula Cole, Taylor Dayne, Jody Watley, Melody Thornton of the Pussycat Dolls, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, and so many others! It was amazing! I wish I had a copy of the performance to share. It was so cool! Leave it to Global Green and the musicians coming together to make a difference in the world, amidst a pandemic!
What new projects do you have coming up?
I am working on an original Christmas song that I’m hoping to finish in time to release this year. Fingers crossed. I’m also working on finishing “Daddy Don’t Go” and a new song I’m working on titled “Military Life”. I’m very excited for these singles. I also just launched “Space Girl”. I have been working with illustrator Sophia Bonafide on creating my signature cartoon gals. You can shop the “Space Girl” merch line here. www.alyssaruffin.bigcartel.com
I am still working on my album with Scott Wilson of Saving Abel. We have completed two songs off of my EP called “Enough” and “Where I Need You Now”. Both tracks feature Kent Slucher (Drummer for Luke Bryan) on drums, Scott Wilson (Bassist for Saving Abel) on bass and guitar, and Steve Hinson on banjo, mandolin and steel guitar. Steve has worked with everyone in Nashville from Carrie Underwood and Kenny Chesney to Dolly Parton, Ty Herndon and Josh Turner. In addition, I’m collaborating with some folks on a couple of different upcoming projects. It’s a tad too early to share any details on anything else but I promise to let you know when it gets closer. Lots going on behind the scenes. I’m always working!
What would you like to inspire others by?
I would love to inspire others with my music. I want to inspire folks with my passion for life and my drive to pursue my dreams. I have lived a difficult life and overcome challenges that at times I thought were unbearable. I got through them because I am a fighter. I am a warrior. I came from basically nothing and have accomplished so much because I have fallen and hit rock bottom and when that happened, I chose to pull myself off the ground, put the pieces back together the best I could, and keep pushing forward. I’ve done all of this while being a full time mom, while being a Military wife and having to “start over” when we PCS (move) every 1-3 years, and while healing from trauma and navigating anxiety and depression. You can do anything you put your mind to. All you have to do is try. I want to inspire others by empowering them and by providing a little “hope”.
Social Media: www.Linktree.com/alyssaruffin