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Reneé Rapp: From Theatre Kid to TikTok Sensation to Legit Pop Star

Reneé Rapp: From Theatre Kid to TikTok Sensation to Legit Pop Star
Credit: Erica Hernandez

WHO IS RENEÉ RAPP?

Reneé Rapp is anything but your average pop star. The 23-year-old native of Charlotte, NC has successfully pivoted from the theatre/acting world to that of popular music. Taking cues from pop and R&B, Rapp has already shown herself to be incredibly skilled at weaponizing personal traumas and intense past experiences into ear-grabbing, unswervingly honest and vulnerable pop tunes. After all, she’s publicly admitted that her acting endeavours were always intended as a precursor for a bigger goal: a full-time career in music. So how did she get to where she is now, and what’s next for Rapp as her career is still just getting started?

Credit: Marc J. Franklin

HOW RENEÉ RAPP GOT ON THE MAP

Though music is something many fans recognize Reneé Rapp for, her road to stardom was first paved by the theatre world. In 2018, she won Best Performance by an Actress for her role in her school’s production of Big Fish at the Jimmy Awards (an awards show for American high school musical theatre), where she played Sandra. She also starred in a musical production of Mean Girls, portraying Regina George. Thanks to performances like these as well as in a production of Spring Awakening for Theatre Charlotte, Rapp garnered effusive praise for her singing voice and onstage charisma. She'd also cause acclaimed theatre actress Laura Benanti to claim she’ll “never be as confident as that 18-year-old” while watching her perform.

Between this and many other accolades in theatre, as well as starring as Leighton in The Sex Lives of College Girls (co-created by Mindy Kaling), Rapp would go on to also find success in the world of music. Her first standalone single, “Tattoos”, was released in June 2022, with its video garnering more than 730,000 views on YouTube. This would come after experiencing a great deal of anxiety about putting her music into the world, something she expands on in the video’s YouTube description:

“I love to write music, but I’m an anxious person. For 6 years I’ve been saying I was going to release my songs then backing off and getting scared. If you ask anyone I’m an open book and I share everything. Music was the final piece I hadn’t shared. I’ve been excited and scared at the same time. I’d second guess everything I was writing— I still do. The only thing that changed is you guys. Your support on this song and the next to come leaves me fucking speechless. I’ve dreamt of this my entire life and I’m so excited to finally be sharing it with you. Heartbreak sucks. Anxiety can suck. But they made this song. They connected me to y’all, so I’ll take it any day. Hope this makes your heartbreak worth it. I love you like crazy.”

Credit: Katia Temkin

RENEÉ RAPP’S KEYS FOR SUCCESS

Rapp’s debut EP, 2022’s Everything to Everyone (not to be confused with the same-named Everclear song or Barenaked Ladies album, of course), was released on Interscope in November of that year. This was preceded by its lead single released that July, “In the Kitchen”, which would become Rapp’s breakthrough track. On YouTube, the song’s video has garnered 1.1 million views so far, a number she’s only eclipsed on two occasions with the songs “Don’t Tell My Mom” (1.3 million) and “Too Well” (1.5 million). 

Rapp has also gained close to 920,000 Instagram followers, while racking up nearly 4 million monthly listeners on Spotify (“Too Well” is her most streamed song on the platform, at 48 million streams and counting). This has set the stage for the release of her debut album Snow Angel, released in August on Interscope. Receiving positive reviews from outlets like Rolling Stone, the album has done especially well in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at #7 on their album charts.

Like many artists nowadays, Rapp has TikTok to thank for helping get her music career off the ground, and she’s more widely-supported there than other social platforms — she has 1.5 million followers on TikTok alone. She started posting small clips of her own songs on the video-sharing platform as early as March 2022, which she used to keep fans who knew her from her theatre and TV work on their toes and hungry for proper releases from her before eventually dropping “Tattoos”. All of this has helped her gain a following that caused her first-ever tour in December 2022 to sell out, with the planned four-date run in several U.S. cities eventually turning into eight due to high demand.

Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
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WHAT’S NEXT FOR RENEÉ RAPP

Recently, Rapp was nominated for two MTV Video Music Awards for Best New Artist and Push Performance of the Year, and performed “Too Well” and newest single “Pretty Girls” at the ceremony. She won neither, but she’s got lots of plans for her music career still to come — in fact, she’s said (probably in jest) to NPR that she plans on burning out by the time she turns 30. With that in mind, Rapp will be continuing to ride on the release and success of Snow Angel through a series of upcoming live performances.

Currently in the middle of a large-scale North American tour (which began shortly after the VMAs) until November 3, Rapp will be crossing the Atlantic shortly thereafter to play her first-ever U.K. run of shows, beginning November 8 in Southampton, U.K. She’ll return to Europe in February 2024, starting with a show in Paris before going back to the U.K. and Ireland, with a date also scheduled in Germany next June. Be sure to keep up with Rapp’s social media channels, such as TikTok, Facebook, X (fka Twitter) and Instagram, for all further updates about her and her musical career.

FAQS ABOUT RENEÉ RAPP

Where is Reneé Rapp from?

Reneé Rapp’s hometown is Charlotte, North Carolina, though she went to high school in neighbouring Huntersville.

How old is Reneé Rapp?

Reneé Rapp was born on January 10, 2000, and is 23 years of age.

What is Reneé Rapp’s full name?

Reneé Rapp’s full name is Reneé Mary Jane Rapp.

Who is Reneé Rapp signed to?

Reneé Rapp is signed to Interscope Records.

What was Reneé Rapp’s breakout song?

Though “Tattoos” was the first song of hers to generate buzz online, Reneé Rapp’s breakout song was “In the Kitchen”.

Who influenced Reneé Rapp’s music?

Reneé Rapp grew up singing songs by P!nk and Beyoncé, while currently listing R&B stars like Frank Ocean, Jazmine Sullivan and YEBBA — as well as country artist Kacey Musgraves — as influences. She’s also cited Karen Carpenter, the late singer of the Carpenters, as inspiration for her songwriting style.

What’s next for Reneé Rapp?

Reneé Rapp is in the middle of an extensive North American tour until the beginning of November, which will be followed by European dates that same month as well as in the new year.

How can I stay updated with Reneé Rapp’s music?

You can follow Reneé Rapp’s social media channels to keep up to date on all future plans, tour announcements and releases, including her official website, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, X (fka Twitter), and her YouTube channel.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave MacIntyre
As a student in the journalism program at Concordia University in Montreal, I specialized in both print and broadcast journalism. At the moment, my key strokes are busy writing content for Cult MTL, Exclaim!, RANGE and many others.

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