West Coast artist RichRel has released his 'SonShine' album, with a sound reminiscent of Kanye West's new vibes. Louder Than The Music chatted with RichRel to find out more about his music and inspiration.
Richard John Reliford aka RichRel was born in Chicago, IL and raised in the southwestern suburb of Bolingbrook, IL. He received a football scholarship to the University of Akron where he earned a Mechanical Polymer Engineering degree, served as President of the Beta Beta Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. He has raised three awesome young adults that are all currently entering, attending and finishing college: Twins (TayLore & Richard II (RJ) Reliford) and his youngest TaMya Reliford.
RichRel is a bit of a renaissance man with an athletic, artistic (actor, creator and independent artist), advocacy and professional background. His professional background includes engineering, sales, marketing, education, ministry, leadership and prior to his current role he served as the National Partnerships Manager for World Vision, RichRel is also the President and Founder of Mission1Race ( With the founding belief that We Are Uniquely The Same; and therefore creates content, community experiences, unity based curriculum and seeks to establish diverse collaborations to advocate for, bring together and serve all), and in April of 2019 & December of 2020 he set out to run 250 miles, visiting 7 missions over 6 days up the California coast for 1 human race to advocate for justice, radical forgiveness, human reconciliation & oneness.
How did you get involved in making music?
I have always been exposed to music and live my life to a constant theme song. I play music with and/or without words constantly for fun, relaxation, prayer, healing, encouragement and everyday activities like taking a shower or studying or preparing messages. My father was an amateur blues guitar player in which I would play along with by ear on lead guitar, base, drums, etc, and I was in youth marching band and symphonic winds and have been producing some form of music/song writing since 10 years old or so.
Tell us about your new EP 'SonShine' and what the inspiration behind it was?
SonShine is an album for everyone but even more specifically for I call "Warriors of Light" . Those who seek to battle for all, for good but with the weapons of love, peace and enjoy with everything they have. It's a true testimony of despair and a dark moment and struggle with mental ans emotional health but speak to joy, grace, and the love of my life - Our Father God.
Which is your favorite track on the album and why?
All of them are special to me but the most vulnerable and critical and true to my identify and spirit and ultimately my favorite because without this truth I would not be the man or artist that I am is MY ALWAYS LOVE. it also features my ability in all aspects musically with the production, Songwriting, singing, rapping and playing the acoustic electric guitar on the track as well.
What message would you like people to take from your music?
Music is for all, God is for all, you are loved, you belong, and you have a purpose for each and every day in your life and for you entire life as a whole. That we are all Uniquely the same and there is hope even when it's hopeless, God is real, he is above all, is love and longs to be in deeper relationship with you. Warriors of Light stay in the fight and be courageous even when fear is before you, He is with you.
How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?
My style of music is an eclectic blend of many genres and seeks to speak to the heart of those who are Christian to thirst for more of God, in life and to live a life of Mission. My influences range from Christian, secular, domestic and or international artists but mainly is just a pure platform to express the overflow of my life and heart. It is similar to David in the Bible and it is a working out of my walk faith and love for God.
If you could work with any songwriter, who would it be and why?
I would love to work with a cross cultural connection and artist that was used in my early days of faith through their part in the group DC talk- I came to faith in January of 1998 as a freshman in college play D1 football At the university of Akron while attending an AIA conference in Mansfield, OH. the music that spoke to me was diverse but it would be amazing and powerful to collaborate with Toby Mac - I actually pray and believe that may happen at some point.
How would you define success in your career as an artist?
To pour out every song and drop of what God has for me to say and impact with the gifts He has given me as an artist. To boldly and courageously be who He has called me to be in and through my music as a Warrior of Light and Ambassador of Onenesses and in the midst of that the streams, plays, concerts, followers, fans, likes, saves and funds that are associated with that to be reinvested and/or raised for Mission1Race and/or other nonprofit will be an overflow and icing on the cake of my obedience.
What is your favorite album of all time?
Entire album, it would have to be Michael Jackson's Thriller only because the timing of it and his excellence and passion as an artist, performer and struggle to be a better human being and care for unity, and those that are hurting.
You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your phone. What track is it?
It would have to be a worship song/hymn and it would either be His Eye is On the Sparrow (my late mother's favorite) or I Love You Lord (the song I learned how to truly sing with, to and worship God to as a man at 27 years).
What does the next year hold for you?
I am pulling together dates and looking for collocation for the SonShine 1Light Tour: We All Can Shine Together. I already have a number of new singles that will be released on a quarterly basis after a few more songs from this current t EP are promoted to the fullest extent.