First Day of the Truth
Meet Rachel Williams You'll be glad you did! If ever there was proof that big things come in small packages, it's Rachel Williams. There's more talent in this (almost) five-foot-two redhead than in a whole jukebox full of hits. When Rachel is delivering her brand of rockin' and R&B country, she has the audience on their feet and movin' to the beat, but she can just as easily wring their hearts with a ballad she seems to pull out of her very own soul. Rachel credits her grandfather with introducing her to country music early on. He took her to a Judds concert when she was only two years old, and she was hooked then and there. For years, she wouldn't go to sleep unless a country cassette was playing. But during the day, Rachel was the one doing the singing. Rachel graduated from singing at home with a hairbrush 'microphone' to public performances in shows at school. (She says she learned to 'ham it up'-pun intended-in the Three Piggy Opera in second grade.) It wasn't long before she was winning talent contests and singing professionally at fairs and other events. It must come as no surprise to those who heard and saw her sing as a child that Rachel has grown up to be the confident, exciting performer that she is today. There's just no holding back talent and drive like hers. That talent and drive has certainly been evident to the contest judges who have awarded Rachel first prize in numerous talent competitions over the years. Most recently, Rachel won the Michigan title in the Colgate Country Showdown. Previous contestants in the Showdown have included Martina McBride and LeAnn Rimes. But Rachel's talent has been recognized far beyond the borders of Michigan, or even the Midwest. In early 2004, she was one of the top 15 contestants nationwide in the USA Network's Nashville Star 2 television program. Anyone who saw her live performance for that show knows how she can light up a room and get the audience moving. Contest finalist Lance Miller says, 'Rachel has the kind of pure voice and confident stage presence that just blow you away.' Apparently, a lot of viewers agreed. Fans from all over the country and across the world sent Rachel e-mail messages after seeing her for the first time on the show. And she's been in even more demand for radio, TV and live appearances. What's Rachel doing now? She's promoting her new CD on Regaltone Records, 'First Day of the Truth.' Recorded in Nashville at a top studio with A-list musicians, this CD allows Rachel to show off the kind of music that she likes best: rockin', in-your-face country that leaves no doubt where she's coming from. Echoing Gretchen Wilson's hit single, Rachel says she's not the 'Barbie doll type.' She let's her gutsy self show, and her audiences love it. Large audiences have had a chance to show how much they love it when Rachel has opened for such national acts as Diamond Rio, Emerson Drive and Andy Griggs. Opening recently for Wynonna, Rachel and her band brought people to their feet with songs from the new CD. Kevin Cassidy, general manager of the venue at Freedom Hill in Michigan, said they had never had such a response to an opening act before. Little did the Wynonna fans who showed up early know that they'd be going home Rachel Williams fans, too. Having folks lining up for her autographs and t-shirts was the icing on the cake for Rachel, who had finally met her first and always musical idol, Wynonna Judd. Want to know more about Rachel? Let's hear it from her... Last updated 10/04 Ask Rachel Williams... Q. People are really sitting up and taking notice of you. They're asking, 'Where did Rachel Williams come from?' A. I come from a small town just outside Detroit, which gives me a certain perspective on music. We're already famous for Motown-I'm ready to put us on the map for country! Q. You totally sell the song 'Rebel Bride' [second track on the CD]. What does a girl from Michigan know about being a 'rebel bride'? A. I'm half hillbilly! I've still got family in small-town Tennessee. You know that line in the song about 'chocolate gravy'? Well, my granny used to make it for us every Sunday, with biscuits. Trust me, you've got to try it if you haven't already! Q. Your say your grandfather introduced you to country music, and you give your family a lot of credit for your musical successes. How's that? A. My parents and siblings have sacrificed a lot to give me a chance to sing. They've driven all over the country to concerts and contests. They've had to step over boxes of t-shirts and CDs in the living room. It's been crazy. But more than anything, my family taught me to stand up for myself. We are all hard-headed and know what we want. It can get pretty lively when we're all in one room, but it sure is good training for the music business. Q. Now you've got a professional team working with you. How is that different? A. For one thing, my family can finally relax and enjoy the ride. As for me, I'm still working hard, but I now can devote my energy to the music. It used to be me making all the calls to radio stations and newspapers myself. And I'd be up till two in the morning burning demo CDs and slapping on labels. Now I can spend more of my time on the songs-picking them out, writing them and totally getting into them. Q. So you were involved in choosing the songs for your CD? A. Oh, definitely! I knew the direction I wanted to take this album. I was able to choose songs that fit me as an artist and as a person. When people hear these songs on the radio, they're going to know that it's Rachel Williams they're listening to. I'm singing songs that say what I want to say, the way I want to say it. Q. What do you want to say and how do you want to say it? A. If I had a musical motto, it would be 'No Fluff.' I like real songs about real emotion, like 'As Far As You Know' [fifth track on the CD]. I bet everyone has felt what that song says at least once-wanting to smash things to bits after a breakup. When I sing a song like that I am totally out there. On the other hand, I can be close to tears myself on one of those heart-breaking ballads. Whatever the song, I live it. Q. It could wear a person out going through those emotions from song to song. How do you handle it? A. First of all, I've never sung a song I didn't love. And just when things might be getting too emotional, I can rock out. That'll pump anyone up. I'm dancing and waving right along with the audience for the up-tempos. It is absolutely the best high to see people on their feet, singing along, clapping to the beat... And at the end of the show, the applause, the hootin' and hollerin'-there's nothing like it. Q. Your audiences are tremendously enthusiastic. People hearing you for the first time are instant fans. Why do you think that is? A. I think country music is ready for a change, ready for someone who is totally herself and not trying to conform to an image just to win over a certain audience. I believe even people who thought they didn't like country like what they hear from me. I'd love to have that younger audience listening to country like I did. Q. You have amazingly loyal fans. What makes them take to you that way? A. They must know I'm one of them. I mean, I was once that girl in the front row waving a sign at the stage. I'll never forget where I come from. That's one of the reasons I try to take photos of my audience at every show. I'm their biggest fan! Q. If you could talk personally to each one of your fans, what would you say? A. Be confident. If you second-guess yourself, the rest of the world will second-guess you, too. Don't do anything half-way-have the conviction and heart to go after what you want. Listen to your inner voice. You won't be disappointed.