At an age when many of her classmates are taking the SAT and thinking about where they want to go to college, a talented 17-year-old from Chesterfield is working hard to launch her career as a vocalist and songwriter.
Tonight in Raleigh, North Carolina, the artist known as Ru: will serve as the opening act for award-winning R&B star Monica’s concert at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.
“Opening for her is an honor because she’s won Grammys and I dream of doing that someday,” Ru: said in a telephone interview Thursday. “It’s surreal to be in that space.”
Born Taniya Cockburn to a Trinidadian father and Dominican mother, the second oldest of six children, music has been part of Ru:’s life for as long as she can remember.
She fell in love with it at age 7 when her father bought her a guitar. Five years later, he began taking her to perform at open mic events across the Richmond area.
The nerves Ru: experienced during those early performances have given way to a quiet confidence that she belongs on stage. In addition to her vocal talent, she plays the keyboard, guitar, ukulele and bass.
“I’m not really good at anything else," she said with a laugh, "but I’m good at music."
Ru:’s new single, “Next Big Thing,” can be heard on Sirius XM and 106.5 The Beat locally. She previously wrote and recorded the title track for an independent film, “Where Did My Light Go?”
She also has been selected to write songs for EPentertainment/Universal’s roster of performing artists.
“Being a songwriter is my passion – I love it more than anything,” she added. “My main goal is to have what I write resonate with people.”
Just as Ru:’s lyrics have meaning, so does her chosen stage name.
“The word ‘rue’ means to have regret,” she explained. “I feel like over the course of my life, I’m going to have to be firm in the way I carry myself and make decisions about my career. ‘Ru:’ is a reminder to have as few regrets as I can.”
A student at Cosby High School, she’s enrolled in an online program that provides the flexibility to satisfy her academic obligations while being out on the road.
Tonight will mark Ru:’s fourth time opening for Monica. Her expectation is to continue touring and playing shows through next summer.
“There haven’t been a lot of female artists to put Virginia on the map,” she said. “It’s a pleasure to even have the possibility of doing that.”