It takes a vocalist to know one. And, at age fourteen, Rachel Holder knew a good one when she heard it.
“I was at a Vince Gill concert in my hometown of Chattanooga,” she recalls. “I was in the second row, and I was with my parents.” They could see the fire burning in their daughter’s eyes.
“They said to me ‘we know what you are about to do. Please don’t embarrass us,” she remembers with a laugh. ‘I told them I was going to get on stage with him before the night was over. He had just got done performing ‘Go Rest High On That Mountain.’ Then, it got really quiet in the auditorium. There were about 5,000 people there. I raised my hand, and said ‘Mr. Vince, can I sing a song with you? He said ‘I normally don’t do this, but come on up here.’ We sung ‘Oklahoma Swing’ together, and after that, he said ‘You did Reba proud.’ It was a really great moment.”
Holder says that listening to a true vocalist like Gill, Dolly Parton, Celine Dion, or Mariah Carey is something that has influenced her time and again.
“With vocalists, you get a chance to see their real talent. It’s not hidden by all the production. Which, production is wonderful, and it makes a song better, but you get to see the true and raw talent they have. When I was onstage with Vince, he may have missed only two notes the whole time. He’s so amazing.”
“Amazing” was the general consensus among many at the 2012 Country Radio Seminar when Holder’s video for “In Your Arms” made its’ debut during the prestigious New Faces Show. The single is a powerful love song that can be interpreted on many different levels. Her debut album for Curb Records is one of the most versatile projects to be released from Nashville in quite some time and currently scheduled to be out later 2012.
While still working on the debut album, the East Tennessee native states “I like to say the album has every genre you can think of,’ she states. “You’ve got Bluegrass, Traditional Country, New Country, Rock, Pop, and you can’t just narrow it down to one thing. There are many paths you can take. Why just keep it at one? You’ve got to stick with your roots. I love all styles.”
Not only vocals but performing live has been something that Holder has done from the start – literally, she says. “I’ve been singing since I could talk. My mom has video tapes of me singing when I was two years old. I listened to Country and Gospel Music like Karen Peck and Dolly Parton. I’ve always been around Country or Gospel. I think that God led me to music. I grew up singing in Church, talent shows, and competitions – anywhere there was a stage in my hometown, I was there. I believe that God led me down this musical path to touch lives, and put a light in the darkness.”
Having that experience on the stage has helped her out many times so far. “It’s very important. I got to learn a lot about live shows – What if the mic goes out? I was working in Pigeon Forge, and had a wardrobe malfunction, and I learned about how to manage that situation. Experience really matters when you are performing live.”
Rachel recently caused a splash with a video of Lady Gaga’s “Edge Of Glory” that turned into a viral sensation. “We worked really hard on it. I’m really fortunate to have a home studio at home. We went into the studio, and spent about 148 hours on it. It was so amazing. We went in and cut it, and I was speechless about it. We had about a million views in two weeks,” she says, adding that online promotion is part of the plan today. “It’s a great way to get your name out these days, especially with social marketing – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace – it’s a great way to get your attention.”
For her debut album, Holder teamed up in the studio with producers Chuck Howard and Wilbur Rimes (LeAnn Rimes father). She said it could not have been a better musical fit. “Chuck is a renowned producer, who has worked with Trick Pony and John Berry. He and Wilbur actually produced ‘How Do I Live’ together. I’m very fortunate to work with them. We’re always picking on each other. They’re more like family to me. Wilbur, his wife, and grandson go on the radio circuit with me, and everybody knows them. We all have a great time. When you put these great minds together, you come up with something great,” she exclaims. Rimes even join’s the singer on Holder’s debut album.
But, there are other pieces to the Rachel Holder’s story and a rather large piece would be "Elmer Cole", a legendary figure in the world of Gospel Music, has played a huge role in her artistic development. “I met him when I was ten years old, and I’m nineteen now, so that’s about nine and a half years. She claims, “He’s her mentor”.
Rachel says she feels very fortunate that Cole agreed to work with her – especially at a young age. “He said he would never work with kids because they didn’t want to listen. I was ten years old at the time, and I’m glad he took me under his wing. If it wasn’t for God and him, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Her family life is also of great importance. Rachel says much of her family was close by in her native Birchwood, TN. “My grandmother lives a mile away, as do my aunts. We are a tight-knit family. I love spending time with my family. I sing a lot of duets at Church with my grandfather. They’ve always supported me – especially my Dad. He’s taught me to be driven – to work hard, and you’ll get to where you want to go. I always respected my dad for teaching me those lessons in life that work will pay off with the dream you want.”
What does success mean to Rachel Holder? “The definition of success to me has got to be to keep singing and writing songs, doing what I love to do. I’ve actually performed for one person in the audience before. If it’s one person, a thousand, or a million – they paid to see you. I believe that if you love what you do, and you’re on stage – you should have fun. The biggest thing is that God gave me a talent – a voice , and an ability to use for the right reasons. I want to make people’s life better, to put a smile on their face for forty five minutes- whether on stage or on an album.”
It seems that for Rachel Holder, the time is now. She’s got a great team behind her, including one of the most successful labels in Music City. “When I got signed to Curb Records, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m still on cloud nine. I can’t believe it,” she says, expressing that her father’s words of wisdom were right on the money.
“I worked so hard for it. I want people to know that I worked hard for it, and when you do that, you get to where you want to be. I got signed not only to Curb – but Mike Curb himself. He believes in my music and me. I believe if we keep the Lord first, we’ll have plenty of success.”
Rachel Holder - "In Your Arms":
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