By Jeff Louderback
Sitting next to her mother in front of a piano when she was a little girl is where Reyna Spears first developed a love for music. It is a familiar story for many musicians who gain inspiration for their art at an early age. Yet Reyna’s childhood years were anything but common, and that unconventional journey shaped who she is as a woman and a singer/songwriter.
One of the busiest musicians in the Dayton area, Reyna performs solo acts, appears as part of the Reyna and Dana duo with Dana Farley, and sings background vocals for a Pink Floyd Tribute Band called Signs of Life. She is also part of the classic rock cover band, Curious Animals. She debuted with the newly formed Girl Pop, a cover band that performs songs from female artists and bands from the 80s, 90s and present day.
Reyna cultivated an appreciation for musical diversity during those formative childhood years. Her parents were missionaries, and when she was 7, the family embarked on a year-long adventure where they traveled the country in a camper towed by a mini-van. The group included Reyna and her parents, her brother and sister, and a dog and a cat.
“We went from town to town, and church to church, where my parents would preach, present their plan to serve as missionaries in Peru and start an orphanage,” Reyna said. “That is how they raised the funds for their missionary work, and that is how we lived for a year, and it was memorable. It was a happy time.”
When Reyna’s parents raised the necessary funds to begin their mission in Peru, the family settled in Cajamarca, a town located in the Andes Mountains.
“Growing up on the mission field also made me appreciate the little things,” she said. “In Peru, we couldn’t drink the tap water. We would have to boil the water, which made it taste different. Returning to the states and being able get a glass of fresh water right from the tap was an amazing feeling.
“When we wanted milk in Peru, we took a bucket to the dairy farm and waited in a line while farm workers milked the cows by hand into whatever container you gave them,” Reyna said. “Then we’d take the milk home and boil it while stirring constantly so we could purify it and drink it without getting sick.”
Sometimes, Reyna recalled, the city government would turn off the electricity or water without warning to conserve costs, so her family kept candles and water ready.
“I loved it at night when the electricity was turned off. I would go to the roof and look at the stars,” she said. “When you are surrounded by total darkness and living near the top of the Andes Mountains, the stars seemed so close. I felt like I was in space with them. It was so beautiful. “
Reyna attributes the years and memories on the road and then living in Peru for molding and shaping her creative thoughts and musical ambitions.
When she was 12, her family returned to the United States, and arrived in Hillsboro. It was there where she graduated from high school and started to further her interest in music. She was part of the school’s choir and took singing lessons by watching several DVDs. As the years passed, she learned to play the piano and the guitar, and she completed a class in “History of Rock Music” when she attended Sinclair Community College, where she earned an accounting degree.
“I took the History of Rock Music class to gain an understanding of the artists, what inspired their music and what was happening in their lives when they wrote their most memorable songs,” Reyna said. “The songs I sing when I perform solo or with a group, and the original music I write and sing, are diverse. I have an appreciation for a variety of genres, and that is influenced by the creativity instilled as a child.”
Reyna’s original songs reflect her cerebral, emotional and sentimental nature, illustrated in what she calls her most meaningful work, “Man, Do Things Change,” which is the first acoustic guitar song she wrote. The title reflects a life-altering tragedy and reminds her of the special bond she shares with her son, Gregory, who is now 14.
“I wrote this song about my son’s father. He passed away unexpectedly while I was pregnant with Gregory,” Reyna said. “He was the love of my life. I wrote it before I really even knew how to play the guitar. It just entered my mind one day.
“This remains the song that is closest to my heart. My son is the only reason I kept living after his father died,” Reyna said. “My son kept me living, my music keeps me healing and God keeps giving me faith to get up each day and do my best and be what I am meant to be. God created all of us and I think he wants us all to live up to our full potential, and to keep learning and growing and most of all keep loving.”
Reaching her potential and stepping out of her comfort zone to try new experiences is what motivated Reyna to accept an invitation from recording artist Ashley Martin to join Girl Pop, which will showcase a high-energy production with choreographed dancing and a band to accompany the featured performers.
In 2015, Reyna expanded into acting when she answered a casting call for Bruce Willis’ “Marauders.” She did not get called back from that project, but it led to an appearance as an extra and a stand-in for Mariah Carey’s Hallmark Channel film, “A Christmas Melody.”
As Reyna prepares for an “excitedly busy” 2019 with her performances as a solo artist, as part of the Reyna and Dana duo, the longtime groups and her newest foray with Girl Pop, she feels confident anticipation thanks to those childhood roots.
“All those little experiences growing up definitely shaped my life in a positive and rewarding way,” Reyna said. “Change doesn’t bother me as much as I see it bother most people. The only thing constant for me growing up was family and church.
“I was always with my family. We always ate together, we were always there for each other. No matter what country or what state we were in, we had each other,” she said. “We made it work, we were happy, and I’m grateful because that is why I am who I am today.”
Editor’s Note: For more information about Reyna, visit her website at www.reynaspears.com.