Junior Alanna Rader is a singer/songwriter


When did you fall in love with singing?

For me, it was really in middle school, I mean, I had always been passionate about music since I was really little, but when I was in middle school I struggled with a lot of like, I don’t know, I think everyone struggle emotionally and socially in middle school and that’s when I really made a connection with music and I figured out that I could express my emotions in it. It really acted more as a therapy for me, so I became really passionate about it, and it’s followed me up into high school.

What does music mean to you?

Not to be super cliché but to me, music is everything. I mean, music is the way you feel. Music is the way you act. It’s kind of a lifestyle, especially for me. It’s therapy. It can be your best friend. It can be anything you’ve ever wanted it to be, and that’s why I think it’s so perfect. You can be whoever you want to be, and it doesn’t matter.

When did you start playing piano?

Junior Alanna Rader sings and plays guitar. Rader is currently in a band called Ashes of Our Youth. CRAWFORD / PHOTOS
Junior Alanna Rader sings and plays guitar. Rader is currently in a band called Ashes of Our Youth. CRAWFORD / PHOTOS

Piano started when I was really little. My mom actually used to give me piano lessons when I was really little  out of books that we used to get at music stores because she knew a little bit, but it got to the point where I exceeded my mom’s abilities, and she didn’t really know where to go from there. I used to just sit at the piano and play. It was more of like an experimental learning rather than a legitimate learning from a book. I’ve been playing probably since I was five up until now. I took a couple piano classes at school which really actually helped since I didn’t really understand the theory side of it.

When did you start playing guitar?

I started playing about two years ago, but I became really serious about it about a year ago. I started playing because my brother had been playing since fifth grade, and I always loved to sit in my room and listen to him play because he’s such an incredible musician and I realized that I wanted to do it, too. He taught me my first couple of chords, and from then on I went on to youtube and taught myself. He really inspired me to become a better musician because he’s one of those people that was just completely blessed with the talent of knowing exactly how music should be.

Do you prefer guitar or piano?

That’s such a tough decision. I definitely think if I’m performing on stage I like to play guitar. but if I’m just at home relaxing and I’m in the mood to write some music I’d rather be on the piano. It’s where I’m most comfortable.

What band are you in?

Right now I’m playing in a local band, which is just really relaxed. It’s more of just a fun thing that I get to work with other musicians and become better. We’re called Ashes of Our Youth, and there’s three of us right now. The other two guys go to a different high school, so it’s kind of rough to get together. It’s hard to work out schedules around one another, but I really enjoy it because they are just incredible musicians.

What are you doing with music after high school?

I was asked to go on tour starting next August. I’ll be going on tour with a band called Captive Free, which is a nonprofit band, and it’s a Christian organization. I’ll be getting to do what I love, performing, but also teaching the gospel, which I’m really passionate about, so I’m really excited about that. Although I’ll be living inside of a van for about a year, which — I’m not going to lie — it’s going to be tough, I think it’s going to be really challenging, but I’m so excited for this new opportunity. I mean it’s kind of the dream. It’s all I’ve ever wanted.

What CD did you make?

It’s called “When Stars Align,” which I think is kind of perfect because I think the title really captures that for me. I think that things have really fallen into place. Right now, I’m really starting to figure out what I want to do. Basically it’s a seven song EP, demo, whatever you want to refer to it as, which I will use to go around to different recording studios to pitch my act. It’s an acoustic album, so most of the songs are just me and my piano because that’s the way I like it. I think it’s very bare but very meaningful when it’s just stripped like that. It just shows the pure talent of it. All the songs on the demo are written by me, both music and lyrics. It’s just something that I’m extremely proud of. I never thought that I’d get to record my own stuff, it’s just seriously something out of a dream. I don’t like listening to myself though. The first time I heard my CD, I put it in car and I cranked it up, and I had to shut it off because I couldn’t listen to myself sing. I didn’t like it, but it’s out of this world. Its such a cool experience.

15 minutes 3/27How do you come up with your songs?

I’m actually kind of weird about this. If any people are familiar with Elton John’s partnership when it came to writing music, that’s kind of how I am. I always have the lyrics first before I write any music, which is really interesting, and some people think that’s a weird way of doing it, but to me, songs are more about the lyrics. I mean definitely the music behind it contributes to the overall message, but to me, it’s all about the lyrics. You want

Junior Alanna Rader plays her guitar and sings one of her original songs. Rader is currently in a band and will go on tour after her senior year. CRAWFORD / PHOTOS
Junior Alanna Rader plays her guitar and sings one of her original songs. Rader is currently in a band and will go on tour after her senior year. CRAWFORD / PHOTOS

to get that message across. So I’ll start out with maybe a simple phrase that I’ll think up and then through that phrase, I’ll just sit down and I’ll write a song in one sitting. I never work on it more than one day because if you keep looking back on a song, it will never be perfect. You will always revise it. If you just sit down for 20 minutes and plug it out, it’s done. It’s finished. So that’s what I usually like to do. So lyrics first, and then I’ll go back and work on some little melodies that I think are catchy and combine the two together.

What’s Man on the Moon about?

My song “Man on the Moon” has a lot of religious allusions because I’m pretty sure that I want to be a Christian musician. Not someone that labels herself as a Christian musician, but maybe, this is just an example, but Imagine Dragons where they’re just a normal band, yet they do have religious morals in all their songs. So “Man on the Moon” is about anyone who’s ever felt lost, which is almost everyone. It’s really about finding your way and finding whatever it is that lights your path. For me, that’s God, and he helps me find my way and that’s what the songs really about. It’s about broken people coming together, to fit the pieces together and become whole again.

Do you want to pursue music as a career when you’re older?

It’s definitely an option. I don’t want to commit to it per say because there’s obviously a lot of problems in the music industry as far as not being able to get jobs or that sort of thing. I think I want to major in it. I think I’ll probably go into some sort of teaching or even I thought about being an agent for other artists and other talented people or possibly being a manager of a band, so I could still be in the music industry. But also, I want to major in music because it’s just something that I can’t bear to give up. You dream about something since you were little, I feel like if I don’t ever try to go for it, I’m going to grow up and have lots of regrets and think, ‘If only that could have been me on stage. That could have been me.’ So, I never wanted to be one of those people. I want to show my kids that it’s possible to achieve your dreams. I never thought I’d be working in a music studio or recording my stuff, and here I am.