Its all heart and soul for Rachel Brown
When Rachel Brown started playing the guitar seven years ago she confined herself to her bedroom and meticulously studied a Learning Guitar For Dummies book.
At first she didnt tell anyone about her new hobby, but the secrets now out about the artist on the rise.
In addition to releasing a short version of an album on iTunes this week and gearing up for her tour of college campuses across the United States, the 25-year-old recently made headlines around the world when she won blogger Perez Hiltons video song remix competition.
Ms Brown — who is of Bermudian and Ethiopian descent — is gearing up for a series of performances on Island this weekend, starting with the John Lennon Tribute Concert tomorrow night and an hour-long jam session at the Chewstick Neo Griot Lounge on Saturday.
She said: I am really excited about playing because I havent performed in Bermuda in a while. Bermuda was where I got my start [in music] after playing at Chewstick and it just opened up a lot of doors.
The New York-based singer and song writer picked up a guitar at age 18, while taking a gap year between high school and pursuing a film making degree at Harvard University.
I had wanted to play guitar and write and sing and I finally just did it, she explained. I had finished high school and was taking some time off and needed something to do and it was kind of the right moment.
While in university, she slowly built up the courage to take part in open mic sessions and by the time she graduated two years ago she decided she was ready to do it full time.
Not pursuing music as her major at Harvard worked to Ms Browns advantage; she said music became an escape from the rest of the world, including school work and other daily challenges.
She describes her style as a mix of different genres, from folk, pop, hip hop and country. Her music is influenced by the islands of the Caribbean, as well as regions in West Africa and Haiti, where her band members hail from.
Though she is now happy to get up on stage and perform, she admittedly was super nervous the first time she stepped foot in front of an audience.
[Stage fright] was a big problem. I think the first thing I did was an open mic here in New York and I was horrified. The only reason I got up there was because I really wanted to perform and share my music, you cant be a professional and not share your music.
I was in tears. I was so scared, mostly of the microphone and all the technical stuff [that goes into a performance].
But once I got there and started singing and playing I got into my zone and the more you do it the less it scares you. I actually get excited to perform now.
Though she hadnt considered a professional career in the music industry until recently, Ms Brown said it had been a childhood dream of hers to sing.
I found a bunch of old journals recently that I had written when I was around nine or ten years old. I was writing about how shy I was and I wished I could do it.
I didnt know how passionate I was [as a child] until reading them, but I remember that I was always running around the house pretending to sing my favourite songs. In my mind it was like in the way you dream you want to become a princess [and it seems out of reach].
She said it was great to see things come full circle and being able to watch amazing things, like performing with entertainer Wyclef Jean, that she never thought were possible.
Her goal is to share her music with as many people as possible. Ms Brown said: Of course I want everyone who likes it to be able to hear my music. Thats my goal to be able to do this forever, to grow and get my music out to more places and be able to perform and do all these sorts of things.
She admitted she was proud of how much she has accomplished and thanked her parents — film executive, Bermudian Neil Brown and wedding designer Amsale Aberra — for encouraging her on the path to success.
I am surprised at how much things seem to happen and sort of just fall into place in a way I dont expect.
I am also very grateful and happy that way back I forced myself to get in front of an open mic and I am grateful that my family has been so supportive, let me do what I wanted to do and encouraged me, especially when I was terrified.
Tickets for the John Lennon Tribute concert and Chewsticks Griot Session are available at www.premierticketsglobal.com.
James King (1938-2019)
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