Layton Greene is living proof that you can turn a test into a testimony. “I always felt I was destined for this,” she says. “I try to find the light in every situation.” The singer has lived a life that belies her 20 years. Growing up in East St. Louis, Illinois, Greene discovered her musical gift at the age of seven-- when she sang Keyshia Cole’s “Love” to her mother. “My Mom always wanted to be able to sing. She just cried. She just prayed and prayed that she would have a kid that could be able to sing,” she says. She took choir in middle and high school but admits that she wasn’t an attentive student. “None of my chorus teachers didn’t know I could really sing. I never got a solo or anything like that.” By the time she was a teenager, she auditioned for (and was rejected by) both X-Factor and America’s Got Talent. What would have been a crushing blow for most, didn’t faze her. Greene was focused on becoming a professional singer no matter what. “Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I was going to be a professional singer. I knew I would be famous one day. I didn’t know how it was going to happen. I just knew it would.”
Her positive disposition would be especially important given a turbulent home life. Greene’s mother and stepfather were strict and overprotective. They split when she was 13, putting the family in tumult. Her mother suffers from bipolar disorder and grappled with drug addiction. Greene remembers the indelible effect it had on the family, forcing them to crash with relatives and homelessness at one point. “She’s so negative. She would sleep all day,” she says. In many ways, she had to grow up fast and become the caretaker. “I’ve been through some stuff but I couldn’t go to my mother with my problems. I just adapted to what I was going through.”
That fortitude would serve Greene well upon entering the music industry. In 2017, she went viral after remixing Kodak Black’s “Roll in Peace” and uploading the homemade video to social media. This prompted the singer to go into the studio with producer G-Styles to record the extended version of the song. “Roll In Peace Remix” gained over 3.5 million plays on SoundCloud in the first month and jumped into the Top 15 of Billboard’s Hot R&B Songs chart.
Record labels began to take notice...She began fielding offers and found a home with Quality Control’s Pierre "Pee" Thomas and Kevin "Coach K" Lee. “The thing that I loved, is that they didn’t want to change me. They genuinely love me for who I am.” She signed with Quality Control/Capitol Records in February 2019. That spring, she released “Leave Em Alone” (ft. Lil Baby, City Girls and PnB Rock), which has amassed more than 85 million streams and went to #1 on YouTube Music’s “R&B on the Rise.” This early in her career, she has combined global streams of 350 million.
Greene is excited to introduce herself to the world with her first body of work, the forthcoming EP, Tell Your Story. The 7-song effort is devoid of collaborations, so that the “world can get to know who Layton Greene is.” She promises that the EP doesn’t shy away from real life; her struggles and her triumphs. “I get real vulnerable on it,” she says. “I talk about things people don’t really talk about anymore.” The first single, “I Love You,” is a love letter to a former flame and their toxic relationship. “I’ve always been a hopeless romantic,” she muses. “I just was real dependent on him. It should never be like that.” In a world that oftentimes forces us to smile, Greene hopes that the Tell Your Story inspires others to do just that, to be imperfect, to be real. “It’s okay not to be okay sometimes. It’s okay to go through stuff,” she says. “We’re all human. Sometimes we forget that.”
Blame On Me
Leave Em Alone
+ 15 Hip-Hop & R&B Artists to Watch in 2020, Billboard