I first discovered you in a rockabilly style with the Casey Sisters. Now you’re back with a solo album in a rhythm’n’blues vein. Do you remember how and when you discovered these styles ?

When I was growing up in the 1980’s, my father listened to rockabilly and country artists of the 1950’s and my mother preferred the Motown bands and 1960’s soul. I suppose I always had an appreciation for older music, because it was familiar. I really began listening to the 1950’s styles when I was 18 and performing as a Patsy Cline impersonator. When I was doing research for my role as Patsy, I started learning more about the other artists from the time period that played similar music.

Were you in a musical family ?
My father sang in a country band with my uncle for a short time when I was about 9 or 10 years old, but he was never very serious about being a musician. My brother plays music professionally. He sings and writes songs for his pop/rock band «Drew6».
I think much of our appreciation for music came from our mother. She is not very musical, but she loves to listen to music and always had a record playing on the turntable when we were children.

What did the little Little Rachel use to listen to ?
From a young age, I have liked all kinds of music. My brother always wanted to be a pop star. Since he was my older brother, I wanted to be like him. When I first took an interest in performing, I wanted to be a pop singer, too. Somewhere, I have pictures of me at various ages, dressed as different pop
singers - Michael Jackson, Boy George, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, etc. I did not
stop listening to Top 40 music until I was about 12.

When did you start playing music ?
I was singing at the family Christmas parties since before I can remember. I decided I wanted to be a singer when I saw the movie «Annie» at the age of 5, but I didn’t have my first real stage performance for an audience until I was 9. Like Brenda Lee, I was a little girl with a very big voice- I guess that has not changed much!

Were you in other bands before The Casey Sisters ?
Most of my performing experience came from working at a dance school and competing with their song and dance troupe.
I did the Patsy Cline show for a short while, and then I was in one rockabilly band in Kansas City before the Casey Sisters. They did not approve of me singing with Caroline, because she was their singer before
I replaced her in the band. After my first performance with Caroline as the Casey
Sisters, I was asked to leave the band.

You’re from kansas City but with the Casey Sisters you moved to Austin, why ?
The first show we played was the talent show at the Viva Las Vegas Weekender in 2000. We were living in different cities, and singing in our own bands. We only learned 2 songs for the show- just for fun- and we never expected to make much more of it. Wildfire Willie (Jan Svensson) was in the audience with Lars Strandheim, the owner of Tail Records, and insisted that Lars should bring us to Sweden to record for Tail. At that point, we knew we had an opportunity to make the Casey Sisters in to a successful band, but we needed to be in the same city to work on our songs. Austin seemed like a good choice for both of us, because there were a lot of great musicians there to work with and to give us inspiration.

Let’s talk about the new record. Is this a project you wanted to do for a long time ?
I decided I wanted to make this record about 3 years ago. I had been singing rockabilly for a while, so I wasn’t sure where to start. I just knew I wanted to sing the music that came from my soul, and I wanted people to enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoy singing it.

Was rhythm’n’blues your first «love» ?
I love any music that comes from the heart or expresses a feeling or emotion, and I also love music that is fun. I think my first «love» was rock n’ roll, because it is both of those things. I have always loved R&B, because it is the mother of rock ‘n roll, and it allows me to express the more soulful qualities of my voice.

I’ve seen in your bio that you learned guitar to write and teach your songs…
It is very difficult to write the melody of a song when you don’t play an instrument. I have always struggled with playing instruments, because I was actually born with a neurological disorder called «mirror movement» which caused a physical handicap with my hands. I was very determined to make this record, so I learned enough chords to write melodies- but you won’t ever see me play guitar on stage?!

What is your songwriting technique ? Do you get the words or the melody first ?
As for my songwriting technique, I usually pick a song I like the sound and feeling of for inspiration. I’ll take a similar feel and write lyrics to go with the melody. When I create my own lyrics, add my own style, and organize it with a band, it becomes a completely new song.

Eva Eastwood also wrote a bunch of songs. How did it happen ?
It took a while to learn the guitar and start writing songs. I was getting impatient, and I wanted to start recording, but I didn’t have enough songs for the record. Rather than do a bunch of covers, I would rather take the opportunity to share new songs from other talented songwriters. I met Eva Eastwood through our common affiliation with Tail Records. I adore her. She is a brilliant and very active songwriter, and a generous artist that is always willing to help out another musician. I knew she was the perfect person to contact, because she writes so many great songs, she can’t even record them all herself?! As I predicted, she was very kind when I asked for her help, and sent me a demo of about 20 songs. I chose the ones that were most appropriate for an R&B record, and I think they are some of the best tracks I have. I imagine more of the songs she sent will be on the next Casey Sisters recording.

What are your influences as a singer and a songwriter ?
My early influences as a singer include anything from Patsy Cline to Tina Turner. As I became more interested in 1950’s- style music, I was most inspired by Janis Martin, Marti Brom, Winona Carr, Nick Curran, and Etta James.
As for songwriters, some of my favorites include Hank Williams, Leiber and Stoller, Don Cavalli, and Eva Eastwood. They all write different kinds of songs, but they all write songs that can express a feeling in a simple language that everyone can understand and relate to.

What was the biggest challenge for you with this record ?
I lost my voice the first time I set up the recording session, so I had to postpone the record another couple of months. This style of music is much more strenuous to sing than rockabilly, and I was afraid my voice wouldn’t be able to make it through an entire session. It was difficult, but I did it.

And the biggest achievement ?
Since Caroline wrote most of the songs for the Casey Sisters, I felt inexperienced in my songwriting. It was a big step for me to learn some guitar and start sharing my songs with people. I am really proud of the way my original songs turned out. Of course, I owe a lot of credit to a fabulous band and my wonderful producer, Billy Horton. I think Billy is brilliant because he can take my ideas and translate them in musician speak to the band, so that they play it exactly as I was hearing it in my mind. Of course, only a great band could play it just the way he tells them. So, aside from overcoming the songwritng obstacle, my biggest achievement was choosing the perfect people to work with to get the sound I wanted.

What advice would you give to a new singer ?
Do what you love to do, and don’t be afraid to try something new.

If you had to choose a record in your collection and say « Buy it folks, you won’t regret it « Which one would it be and why ?
Of course- «Little Rachel- ‘Cause I Feel Good», because there aren’t any new records like it out there. It will make you smile, it will make you cry, make you dance, and make you sigh- it is a record for everyone!

A last word ?
Thank you so much for the honor of sharing my words with your excellent publication. I really appreciate your contribution to keeping the music I love alive!

Dont forget to take a look at www.littlerachel.net and www.myspace.comlittlerachel


  There’s A New Miss Rhythm In Town
El Toro R&B 203
The little girl with the big voice is back and she’s going to teach you what rhythm’n’blues really is She went to Barcelona, Spain to record and found the perfect match to her astounding voice: The Lazy Jumpers. They get along so fine it seems they were made to be together like butter and bread, Abbott and Costello or Lady Day and Prez. On one side you have a girl with a voice as good and powerful as Big Mama Thornton, Wynona Carr or Ruth Brown. On the other side The Lazy Jumpers (who believe me are not lazy at all). Mario Cobo delivers some fine licks in the vein of Johnny “Guitar” Watson , or Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown while Blas Picon and Ivan Kovacevic provide the perfect rhythm section, tight and swinging in the same time.
Eight tracks are from the pen of Little Rachel, two by Eva Eastwood (who was already present on her debut album) and the Lazy Jumpers wrote the rest (including a song from one of their own album). The music ranges from groovy Rhythm’n’Blues (Bartender Baby; Hey, Big Boy; Please Quit Me Baby) some with juicy saxes and piano to straight blues (I May Be Trouble) which sees drummer Blas Picon taking some mean harmonica solo. And in between you have some pre-rock’n’roll that fits Rachel’s voice so well (Panic Attack), a Chuck Berry-esque rocker (Give-Up Honey), a boogie (Bull Ridin’ Mama) and a Fever inspired song (Take This Love And Bury It) full of soul and seduction. A couple of tunes have a more modern sound (well, everything is relative) and you could easily imagine “Broken” sung by Candy Kane and “Keep On Movin’” by Little Charlie And The Nightcats.
There’s a lot more I could rave about (Get On The Right Track is a killer!) but it’s better to let you some surprises. In 2006 Ruth Brown has left the building, it sure is sad and we’ll always cherish her music but in 2007 we can say : “There’s a new Miss Rhythm In Town”.