Rachel has had a passion for music as long as she can remember. Though some of her first musical memories are of performing publicly at school and church, her roots in music have even earlier origins. “My mother had a dream whilst she was pregnant with me,” Rachel explains, casting her mind back to where her musical journey started, “and in it she says that she remembers me being a baby, running across a large room to a white piano, where I started playing it. Perhaps this is why they wanted me to learn piano, who knows?”
A keen singer and musician throughout her time at school in South West London, where she founded a gospel choir, it was at university that she started to form her identity as a writer and musician. Combining her academic study in music business, production and sociology at the University of Westminster with a blossoming career as a performer, Rachel had performed in Trafalgar Square, done backing vocals for Billy Ocean and sang the National Anthem for Nelson Mandela before she’d even finished her course.
In her music career since, Rachel has been two-time finalist in the BBC’s Gospel Choir of the Year competition, featured as a backing vocalist for DJ Vadim and Sola Rosa and performed at festivals such as Glastonbury, Green Man, Kendal Calling and Secret Garden Party. When not performing, she’s also currently finishing an MA in Culture, Language and Identity in Education at Goldsmiths, University Of London.
Rachel previously released an EP, ‘Home’, in 2016. Grounded in gospel, soul and jazz, her solo work spans tales of love and aspiration, hoping to lift and inspire others.
It’s a message that runs deeply through her new EP ‘KEEP DREAMING’. On lead single ‘Take Control’, written after making the decision to leave an employment situation after two stressful years, she explores what it’s like to enter fight or flight mode. “It’s about acquiring freedom to express without inhibition. Sometimes we care so much about the thoughts of others we lose ourselves and momentarily become what others want or expect whilst suppressing who we really are. “I chose to fight and encourage people along the way.”
Where are you based?
I am based in South London – born and raised in Brixton
How long have you been making music?
Short answer all my life! Long answer; I have been musical since Primary School (brass band, guitar lesson etc) making music since secondary school (songwriting, starting choirs and vocal groups, learning piano, drums) Taking music seriously from college, through to university.
What genre would you consider your music to be?
Soul music with a hint of jazz and r’n’b
What inspired you to pursue a career in music?
Everything I’ve ever done has been centred on music so it was only natural for me to follow my passion from working in retail (Woolworths on the entertainment counter and HMV) to teaching music in schools.
What are your biggest musical influences?
Gospel music, I listen to it every day on the way to work and Mariah Carey! I’m also a huge soul music fan; new and old (Aretha Franklin, Al Green to D’angelo, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott) and I have a soft spot for good pop song. Anything which is good basically.
Are you signed to a label or are you an independent artist?
I am an independent artist
What have been the biggest challenges in your music career?
One of the biggest challenges in my career have been to do with being a multi-faceted artist (singer, songwriter, musician) I’m not easily pigeon holed and therefore found the industry are weary of this type of quality. They like the idea of ‘more of the same’ rather than variation on an album/EP whereas my ideas are bountiful and not restricted to a set formula
How many songs or albums have you released to date?
1 EP entitled ‘Home’ and will be following it with my new EP ”Keep Dreaming”
Can you tell us a few things about your latest release?
My latest release is called Keep Dreaming. I am very proud of the project and believe that audiences young and old would be able to engage with it musically and lyrically and enjoy the body of work. It’s about not being defined by circumstances but rising above, pursuing and fulfilling goals no matter how far out of reach they may seem.
Any plans for new music or upcoming projects we should know about?
Keep Dreaming will be followed by a bonus release of remixes in the summer of 2020. In addition to this I’m working on a follow up EP called Authenticity which is about coming into my own, loving me for me and revealing a more open and personal side in my song writing.