Betty Reed dazzles on pop-rock single ‘Without You’

A hard-driving pop/rock song about prospering in life by breaking free from those who hold you back and then proving them wrong.
5 August 2022

By Vanessa B

Betty Reed is an artist on her way, and isn’t about to let naysayers stop her. The Berklee College of Music graduate collaborated with Nashville producer, Evan Redwine on her latest single ‘Without You’, a potent and fiery pop-rock number, out today.

With an impressive, husky vocal delivery, Betty carries the song effortlessly alongside sizzling guitars and energetic drums, and with buckets of authenticity. Sharing some background on the song’s inspiration, Betty said:

“You, and only you, can be in charge of your destiny. It’s important to have supportive people surround you, but I know that if I’m going to be successful, I have to put myself out there and take chances—and that is the essence of this song.”

A music video for the song directed by Jeremy Bouchard will be released on August 12. Betty has recorded two additional singles with Redwine—“Reasons Why” and “Shallow End,” which will be released in the second half of 2022.

The Nashville-based musician joined us for some QuickFire Questions in celebration of the release. Listen to the track and read our interview below to learn more about Betty’s musical journey and the influences that have shaped it so far.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

At a very young age I was exposed to practically every genre from classic rock to indie rock to Grateful Dead to alternative to new wave to punk because my parents had wide-ranging tastes in music! If I took a road trip with my dad, I would listen to Pearl Jam, Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin. If I was with my mom, I would hear Pixies, PJ Harvey, and The Mountain Goats. And when my older sister was in the car she insisted on tuning into pop music. As a teenager I gravitated to pop-rock artists like No Doubt, Pink, Avril Lavigne, Green Day, and Fallout Boy — I guess what you would consider the edgier side of pop. At Berklee College of Music, I took a lot of music history classes and fell in love with Ma Rainey, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald. Maybe this explains why my own music is not genre-specific! But if I had to pick one artist that truly influenced my songwriting, I would have to say Tom Petty. I loved his style of storytelling and his melodies crossed genre lines from rock to pop to country to folk. His catalog is so vast and so diverse, I can’t imagine that most songwriters aren’t influenced or inspired by him.

Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” is a powerful song that resonated with me. Not just in a musical sense, but also how it influenced my worldview. The lyrics are pretty much telling you to break free of the boxes people put you in. And I think it’s especially meaningful these past couple of years with a spotlight on racial disparities. We’ve come to see how institutionalized racism and its oppressive legacy hurt people of color, and this is our moment to break the cycle, to recognize and repudiate racial injustice, and embrace what freedom is really about—treating everyone with respect and dignity.  

What was the first album you purchased?

The first CD I ever bought was Now That’s What I Call Music! I think it was the 8th compilation in the series. My sister bought most of them and my dad still has all these Now CDs in his house! But the first album that really spoke to me was Death Cab for Cutie’s Plan, which came out when I was 11 years old. I played that CD constantly. I truly think it inspired the way I approach songwriting. I was just blown away by how the lyrics of every song on that album told a story. “Follow You Into The Dark” was one of the first songs I learned to play on the guitar (the first was Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World”). A few years later, after a breakup with a college boyfriend, I played “Someday She Will Be Loved” over and over again and cried for hours in my dark bedroom. Probably not the best thing to do, but it was cathartic. They just released a new song, “Here To Forever,” which I love. It seems to be a commentary on how anxiety-filled our lives are now (mass shootings, climate change, political divisiveness, racial strife), but it’s also a song about hope, and that you have to believe there are better days ahead. A lot of my songs are similar to this theme of balancing despair and hope.

What has your musical journey been like so far?

When I first got to Nashville, I wrote and recorded songs that leaned more to country than pop (“Drunk On You,” “Good Days,” “Her”), but I wouldn’t categorize them as country songs. I embraced the sounds of country artists that I admire, such as Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, and Gabby Barrett and just lent my own pop sensibility to them. I decided to do something totally different with the second batch of songs I wrote and recorded — and worked with producers who were squarely in the pop/EDM space who gave my songs a more electro-pop feel. 

I headed back into the studio with a bunch of extremely talented Nashville musicians for Mistakes Made, Lessons Learned. I wanted to create an EP of songs that encompass various genres of music, and producer Bill McDermott understood my vision and brought his depth of music knowledge to the project. By not picking any one genre for the EP, I felt I could stretch creatively and not feel boxed in by having to produce a certain kind of song. But it also gave me clarity as to which direction I wanted to take going forward. My two favorite songs on that EP are “Misunderstood” and “This Time” — both pop/rock. So I decided to really lean into that genre for the next three songs I recorded, including my new single, “Without You.” The other two, “Shallow End” and “Reasons Why” will be released in the coming months. The feedback I’ve received so far is that this genre suits me best, both performance-wise and vocally.

Can you tell us something about you that you think people would find surprising?

I am severely dyslexic. Vowels are my enemy. Thank goodness for spell check on the computer, but if you look at my songwriting journal you’d have a hard time decoding my words. It’s almost like a secret language that only I can decipher. But the funny thing is that I love to read and I read every book assigned to me in school—it just took me longer than everyone else. I wish I had more time to read these days, but there never seems to be enough hours in the day.

What can we expect from you in the next twelve months?

When I recorded “Without You,” I also recorded “Shallow End” and “Reasons Why” with producer Evan Redwine. I would categorize both as pop/rock, but “Shallow End” is a down-tempo song (about how I feel when I am going through bouts of depression), while “Reasons Why” is an uptempo love song (again, autobiographical about all the fun things I love about my boyfriend). I will release those as singles in the coming months. My plan is to spend the rest of this year writing new songs, networking with the local music community, and playing as many live gigs here in Nashville as I can.