Rett Madison’s “Shame is a River” is an Empowering Queer Anthem

23 year old singer-songwriter Rett Madison gets lyrically deep in single “Shame is a River.” Her Spotify bio is simple yet impactful, only stating “I sing a lot about grief and queerness.” Rett Madison is Rock the Pigeon’s next feature to kick off Pride Month. Rett says “I try to be open about my queerness and those experiences in my music now, so that kids who may be living through similar experiences that I once did, won’t feel as alone and will know there’s better days ahead of them.” Visibility is so important and that is why we celebrate pride, not only every June, but every day.


“Shame is a River” starts off with a quickly paced acoustic guitar and a soft and soulful vocal from Rett. The vocals pick up as the piano and drums start to come in. The lyrics stay poetic, deep, and soulful throughout the entire track. The song explodes into an anthem just passed the two minute mark. The vocals soar and showcase Rett Madison’s incredible singing abilities. Lyrically, addiction and alcoholism are discussed, as well as therapy and of course, shame. The vocal delivery brings a gigantic sense of empowerment to me as a queer/trans listener. The song seems to be written from the other side, when the shame and the hurt has finally lifted. “Shame is a River” showcases the power behind a well-written song. I’m sure that many will find a sense of empowerment from both the performance and lyrics.

“I wrote ‘Shame is a River’ following an emotional visit with my mother a few months before she died by suicide. She struggled with addiction and her mental health for most of my life.” – Rett Madison

“I was raised Catholic, and grew up in a small city in West Virginia of about 15,000 people. Although I had attended public schools in West Virginia until I was 16, I had a very bigoted and homophobic teacher my freshmen year of high school. I didn’t understand my own identity yet, but I fought back on this teacher’s homophobic remarks he made during class until the point I was in tears and outraged. I didn’t have the vocabulary at that time to say he was being prejudiced, but I was very hurt by his words.”  – Rett Madison

Follow Rett Madison: Instagram

Happy Pride Everyone!!!

Written by Ryan Cassata

Leave a Reply