The inspiration for Reyna Roberts’ new single “Raised Right” came from two sources: Star Wars and whiskey. 

Roberts was at a theater to see Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker, indulging in hot fudge sundaes adorned with mini lightsabers, and the title “Raised Right” kept coming to mind. Like any songwriter would do, she pulled out her phone in the middle of the dark theater and wrote it down, along with a few lines that came with it.

She brought the idea — by this time, it had a melody, too — to co-writers Danny Myrick and Kylie Sackley during a Zoom-based writing session during the COVID-19 pandemic, pitching it as a “Gretchen Wilson wild” vibe. The final product, out Friday (Aug. 27), is a fierce, country-meets-rock bop that boasts an electric guitar lick and heavy drums akin to Little Big Town’s “Boondocks” — a song Roberts grew up listening to.

“I love that "Raised Right" has a lot more swamp because that's what I love,” Roberts says. “It was my first Zoom write, and it was also our first time writing together. Right off the bat, we all connected and we clicked. Those are my people — we're family. That's how we feel about each other.

"We were going through my story and what certain things meant to me," she recalls. "For instance, ‘baptized in the neon lights,’ we were talking about being onstage, and how I feel onstage is: I was made for this, this is what I was created to do. [We were] channeling those moments and putting them into the song.”

Roberts also shared stories of her upbringing with Myrick and Sackley — including a particularly humorous memory of following her father’s advice to use whiskey as a remedy to fight off a nasty cold. At the time, Roberts didn't drink much, so, she remembers, "I didn't really measure how much whiskey to put in my sweet tea."

"So I drink the whole thing that I made, and by the time I was finished, I was really drunk," she continues, adding with a laugh, "I didn't sweat anything out, I was just drunk and sick. I didn't feel better at all — I felt worse." In "Raised Right," the memory informed a line in the rollicking chorus: “I’m a little bit of whiskey in my sweet tea.”

Family, in fact, is an integral element of the rock-leaning number, which flexes the up-and-comer’s fiery vocals. Roberts' parents are veterans, and she spent her childhood back and forth between her family’s native Alabama and California.

“I always tell people I was raised by wolves: My parents were veterans in the military, and at the time, [if] they couldn't watch me, they had some of the other soldiers watch me, so I was raised by a whole bunch of Army veterans," Roberts says. Their influence and Roberts' cross-country experience gave her the idea to combine her life in the city with her country roots in the line “I’m a little bit of city in my country.”

The edgy, swampy melody of "Raised Right" accents Roberts' powerhouse voice and confident delivery, capturing the bold nature of her spirit. "I love people, I always want to help people, and I care, but at the same time, there's a fire and a fighter in me,” Roberts says, adding that her parents' time in the military "also shaped me in terms of my determination and my drive to go after things, to be nonstop and to fight for what I want.”

Indeed, remaining true to yourself comes naturally to Roberts, and it's a quality that's exemplified in the song’s most personal lyric: “I know I ain't always ladylike / But I know how to turn up on a Saturday night.” She's admittedly not one to wear makeup or high heels, and the line reflects the former high school wrestler's desire to reject gender stereotypes and live unapologetically in a way that feels authentic to her.

"Raised Right" follows Roberts' previous releases “Stompin’ Grounds” and “67 (Winchester)." It's her first release since signing a publishing deal with Eclipse Music Group in August, and it sets the stage for a bright future.

""Raised Right" is the embodiment of who I am. I feel like it tells the perfect story of me, and it's also a universal story," Roberts reflects. "Everybody was raised by somebody, and I feel like it's a strong song, and I just love it ... It's the one I feel the most confident about."

Roberts is working on an EP, the details of which are forthcoming, and has been playing festivals throughout the summer. She admits that while being onstage took some getting used to at that first show, she found her footing after a pep talk from her family and team members, who advised her to "be you, 100 percent."

"People are either going to love you [or] they’re going to hate you, but you got to be you all the way," Roberts recalls her loved ones telling her. "So, the next show, I did that, and it was amazing, because I was 100 percent myself and people really responded to me ... and it made me take a breath ...

"Every time I'm onstage, I'm like, 'This is what I was made to do. This is what I was created for,'" Roberts adds. "I've been preparing for this my whole life."

Roberts hopes to use her growing platform to elevate other artists of color who feel that same passion and drive. "I feel like it's important for me to continue to pave a path for artists like me that want to be in this genre," she says.

"I feel like people are genuinely trying to take steps to be more inclusive,” Roberts notes, referencing her recent performance with Luke Combs and Grammy-nominated steel guitar player Robert Randolph for the CMT Giants: Charley Pride TV special as an example.

"I feel like the best way to do it is, you got to walk it,” she continues of her own efforts to support fellow Black artists. “Me releasing music and doing what I love is showing people that they can do what they love, showing that it's possible."

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