Retina Hogue had some water ready and was pumped to give an hour-long concert to “everyone” in attendance. It was the real deal. As a little girl growing up in Charlotte, NC, Hogue, who goes by Retina.MC, was writing stories and songs when she was a small child, then performing to her sold-out audience—of teddy bears and dolls.
“Basically I started to write poetry and little books, and do things to entertain myself because I didn’t have TV and video games like most children,” says Hogue. “I started writing songs and would set up concerts for my dolls and teddy bears. I would do a full-fledged one-hour concert. I would drink water and prepare.”
When she was 5, Hogue’s aunt asked her what she wanted to be, and she said “a star.” Once Hogue had the writing down, she became a self-taught student of songwriting, learning how to structure songs. “I didn’t start out as the best but got better over time,” Hogue tells American Songwriter. “I kept working at it. I became better. I became an artist, and I started writing for other artists.”
Today, Retina.MC, one of a dozen artists on Chuck D’s SpitSLAM label, has had her music used in dozens of television and film spots. She’s a mentor. She’s an artist, but first and foremost, Retina.MC is a songwriter.
In her 2017 book, “Invisible Daughter,” Hogue documents her upbringing, including her mother’s drug abuse, her absentee father, and how her childhood escapism led her to music, and writing.
“Songwriting is everything to me,” says Hogue. “Just creating something that gives people emotions means everything, because music gives me every emotion I need. Knowing I can create those moods for people… songwriting is the best job in the world.