At just 12 years old, Waterloo native Raelynn Patterson stunned the Monroe County area and beyond with her vocals, catching the attention of country stars Ryan Daniel and Molly Lovette last summer.
Patterson played her first paid gig last August with Lovette at Freedom Jam, which led to her meeting headliner Ryan Daniel and eventually traveling to Kansas to perform with him,
But his musical journey began long before.
“I’ve been singing for most of my life, probably since I was little,” Patterson said.
It’s something that Michelle Scharringhausen, Patterson’s mother, can attest to.
“She would be in her car seat in the car and I was trying to talk to her, and she would look at me with those big soft eyes and say, ‘Mom, can we stop talking and you turn on the music, please. ? said Scharringhausen. “She was trying to harmonize with us when we put her to bed when she was little singing her nighttime songs. She was trying to harmonize with ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ and ‘You Are My Sunshine.’
Scharringhausen said it wasn’t until Patterson’s guitar teacher, Josh Boyer, pointed out Patterson’s talent that she realized what a special gift her daughter had.
Scharringhausen approached Boyer — who at the time played frequently in the Hope Christian Church band and is now a pastor there — a few years ago to teach Patterson guitar.
Boyer said he was impressed with how quickly Patterson could learn songs.
“She’s unlike any other student in that her memory is crazy,” Boyer said, adding that he affectionately called Patterson a “freak of nature.”
He said that during one lesson, Patterson started singing while playing “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars. It was the first time Boyer had heard Patterson sing, and he was – like everyone who heard him – blown away.
Patterson looked like an adult with immense musical training, he said.
“Everyone’s mouth opens when they see how young she is,” Boyer said.
The pair soon began playing gigs and open mic parties around southern Illinois.
A video Boyer posted on Facebook sparked the interest of Brian Judy, the organizer of a nonprofit concert series that benefits veterans and first responders called Freedom Jam, who had also been collecting funds for Boyer’s daughter, Lydia, when she was ill.
From there, Judy arranged for Patterson to sing with rising country star Lovette at the 2021 Freedom Jam, Scharringhausen explained.
Lovette and Patterson performed a “girl power” anthem written by Lovette.
“They sang ‘One Woman Show’, a girl power song. They sang that to tell the world that if you have a dream, don’t let anyone stop it even if it has to be a one woman show “said Scharringhausen.
It wasn’t just the crowd that Patterson won over.
Ryan Daniel, the show’s headliner, then connected with Scharringhausen and asked Patterson to share the stage with him in March at the Emporia Granada Theater in Kansas.
“I really like playing, and then the fact that other people think I sound so good that they want me to play with them is really exciting,” Patterson said. “(It’s exciting) to know that I could go so far just by playing music.”
Daniel and Patterson sang his original song “‘Like America,” then Daniel surprised the audience by having Patterson lead Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.”
“We had sent a list of my top 10 songs for the band to pick that they could learn in a short time,” Patterson explained. “I’m really glad they chose (‘Dreams’) because I feel like it shows so much of my low range and a bit of my high range, because it has a bit of both.”
Allowing Patterson to show off her versatility is key when choosing her and Boyer’s local gig roster, Boyer said.
Those who saw her at Stubborn German, Washy’s, Outsiders, Back Street Wine & Dine and other local venues enjoyed everything from classic rock to country.
“His range and talent is pretty incredible,” Boyer said.
Patterson’s dream is to become a headliner herself one day, but she said she always knew she could make a difference through song.
“If she’s not lucky enough to be successful in music, she wants to do music therapy for sick children in children’s hospitals,” Scharringhausen said.
Patterson will play at the Collinsville American Legion pavilion from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, June 3; at the Coon Dog’s Saloon in Coulterville from 3-6 p.m. on Sunday, June 5 and at the West Park Bowl in Columbia from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday, June 12.
To follow Patterson’s journey, visit the Raelynn Alyse Music Facebook page.