Like many musicians, Riley Clemmons was pulled off the road when the Pandemic hit. For someone who’s constantly around a crowd, whether on tour or in the studio, Riley didn’t know what to do during lockdown. She explains, “In April 2020, just pulled off the road, the world is shutting down, no one really knows what is going on, I was sitting on my bedroom floor, at my old keyboard that I’ve had since 6th grade. Finding the chords for the song, and going, ‘yep, this is Godsend. Today’s the day that we’re going to write this one’.”
Godsend wasn’t born at that moment. As Riley moves about her day, she writes thoughts, ideas and musical concepts in the notes of her iPhone. So, as she set out to produce this album, that was her “go-to” place.
Riley Clemmons openly expresses that writing Godsend was a major weight lifted off her shoulders. She explains, “I had the title ‘Godsend’ sitting in my phone for a long time at that point. I knew that was the title of a song I wanted to write, I didn’t know how to write it yet. And so I didn’t want to take it in, until I knew how to craft it. ‘Til I knew what it should be.” She wanted to do justice to the song, so she reached out to friends in the industry and together jotted down the line, “What if maybe every broken place I’ve been was a Godsend.”
It wasn’t just the rest of the song that unfolded from that line, but rather the entire album. Riley and team evaluated every song based on the foundation that Godsend established. “In the middle of global pandemic, wondering where in the world any sort of hope, promise or goodness or light could be. All I knew was to look to what I’ve seen before. Choosing to look at life in the broken places through that lens changes everything.”
Riley Clemmons and Humanity
Riley didn’t just create a series of singles pulled together to make an album. She methodically crafted a record. Traditional records seem irrelevant these days, but Clemmons has been a part of the music industry for so long, she doesn’t easily stray from the industry’s substantial history. She approached Godsend with thoughtful sequencing. “It’s very intentional,” she affirms. “I hope listeners will notice the little winks I placed throughout.”
“As I was writing this record, there was never a plan to create anything but honest music, born from hurting, growing, and healing,” shares Riley Clemmons. “This album is truly a collection of stories and experiences. My only goal was to create something authentic. The music that ultimately created the record tells the stories of my highest and lowest thoughts and emotions with the common thread.”
“Healing” simply felt timely. And “Keep On Hoping” was written while Riley was struggling with feeling weighed down by the world. She explains, “I just needed to hear God’s voice speak, and I needed to listen for it. ‘Keep on Hoping’ felt like the reminder I needed, so I figured I would write it because maybe someone else needed it too.” That’s a theme heard throughout the album. All of these songs have a piece of humanity.
“Stuck Inside My Head” was the result of a breakup and ‘Headspace’ came out of the healing from that lost relationship. Riley explains these two songs by saying, “I was in the middle of coming out of a relationship where I was stuck. My head kept going back there. I knew it was no longer serving me. I knew it was no longer healthy for me. But, I was stuck in that place.” She continues, “I thought that was valid to write down. I know so many people who get stuck after they exit a relationship, or exit a friendship, or whatever it is. There’s this feeling of longing for what used to exist.”
“I wrote ‘Headspace’ when I arrived at this place of more confidence.” Again, Riley knows how relatable this topic and idea is. “I know so many people who have walked through that. I wanted them to share in this story with me, of being stuck somewhere and then deciding that this is no longer where you’re going to exist. You’re going to keep moving on. You’re going to decide that you control where your head goes and what you think about and what you spend your time doing.” Riley elaborates by stating, “I realized I was giving headspace and energy to things in the past that no longer served me. I have better things to think about then the past. I’m going to think about this moment. I’m going to think about growing. I’m going to think about being the best version of who I can be.”
Once Riley regained a grip of her heart and mind, it became easier to stop going to God for that tender healing. That’s the overall theme of “When Nothing Hurts.” Riley explains, “Coming out of a painful season in life, I was constantly going to God and asking for help. That was all I could do. In the past little bit as things get better and busy again, I tend to check in less and less with God when nothing hurts.” Clemmons finishes by saying, “I’ve never heard a song about that before, so I’m excited for the whole world to hear it.”
“I’m Not Alone” lived in Riley’s iPhone notes until she released it via various social media platforms to see if it would stick. While in the middle of the pandemic, most people could deeply relate, which created an overwhelming response filled with affirmation.
Godsend closes with “In This Moment.” Riley wrote this song as a letter to her old self who produced her first record. Riley Clemmons evaluates the person she was in comparison to her current self. A lot happens in life during those years.
How Riley Clemmons Arrived Here
“Growing up, I remember my first exposure to music ever was my mom singing in the church. She was in the choir. I remember listening to her warm up her voice. And then going and watching the energy of the Southern Gospel Choir at church. That was the initial draw to music.” Riley Clemmons delved into the artistry and craft of songwriting when she was 14.
At 18, she released her self-titled debut. “My senior year of high school got really busy and I would have a work study and sneak off to the studio and write with incredible producers and writers who have been in the industry for years and years. And that’s the foundational time that I started to learn what it meant to craft a song with people who are really good at it.”
Now age 21, Riley Clemmons is confident about Godsend as a means to solidify her music career. “For this record, I’ve been so much more involved in the details because I’ve experienced them before and know how much they matter. I’ve been a big part of sitting with my producers and telling them the sounds I want to hear. I just have been in every single detail and have loved every single second of it. It was a lot of experimenting and trying things that didn’t work, and then trying things that did, and that felt distinct and that felt personal.”
Being personal is of utmost importance to Riley Clemmons. As Riley releases this project, she defines success as simply impacting one life. She says, “If one song deeply helps one person get through a hard time, then I really feel the music has been successful.” Her deepest hope is that listeners find themselves in this record.