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Local Songwriter Inspired by the Environment

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S Bence
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Billy Bob Rayson

Milwaukee-based singer/songwriter Billy Bob Rayson recently released his first album, Stop The Show.

Environmental themes run throughout. Rayson says he's been deeply influenced by environmental issues.

“It’s something they taught us in elementary school about greenhouse gases and carbon emissions. It’s increasingly a big issue…..Now is the time that we have to start talking about it, and bring the issue forward. That’s why on the album I have a big picture of icecaps in Alaska frozen in time. To say, this is the moment in history where we can make a change,” Rayson says.

Rayson started making music early in life. “I started off with piano and was always into writing my own songs,” he says.

The 24-year old says he took up the saxophone in elementary school and moved into jazz band while in high school, “I did some jazz drumming,” Rayson says.

His cousin was another influence. “He's is a really good songwriter and I always looked up to him. So, it’s kind of in the family,” Rayson says.

Rayson does not shy from tough topics. His music also deals with depression.

“I struggle with depression. I think it’s something a lot of people struggle with and don’t talk about. So it’s another thing I wanted to be open about on the album, and put it front and center and say ‘these are the feelings that I have, and it’s okay’ and a lot of people feel that way,” Rayson says.

As for climate change, Rayson believes there’s reason for hope.

“I’ve heard before that my generation, mellenielials, we have this really influential power on the market and the way that they market toward us,” Rayson adds, “ if we consumers decide it’s important for us to recycle, or shop local or do I need to have a car.....if we all make these informed decisions we can reach a more sustainable future.”

Rayson will be performing December 2 at the Art Bar in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood.

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Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with theLake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.