Emerging singer-songwriter Rachael Mann takes pride in her home: the State of Alabama. The musical state.
She says, "So many singers, like Hank Williams, Lionel Richie, and Randy Owen to name a few were born in Alabama. We say there's something in the water about those who were born here and have the talent to sing."
Rachael never asked God for the gift to sing. She started singing when she was seven years old. Rachael doesn't come from a musical home (she's the only one who sings in her family). But, she grew up in a Christian home going to church. "I did my first solo at church when I was 10, singing Michael W. Smith's 'Somebody Love Me.' Even though I was nervous, I began to self-train myself to sing notes and harmonies."
She spent hours in her room, practicing and singing, honing her craft. Rachael loved to sing. Not only that, she believed that God had called her to sing for Him. "I kept singing anywhere the door would open that my family and I thought was the right door to walk through after much prayer."
Rachael continues to hone her craft, developing her musical gift, while building her music career. She's recorded several songs in professional studios in the Nashville area. Many of these songs have reached radio stations that range from the U.S. to Canada to Europe.
"I've opened for and sang with artists like Kirk Franklin, Big Daddy Weave, and Lincoln Brewster. The most important thing we can do is be faithful to where God is leading--even though sometimes it is a huge leap of faith. I'm so thankful for the doors that have opened along this amazing journey." I spoke with Rachael about her musical background, her music, and more.
Why write and perform Christian music?
I grew up singing Christian music. I'm not a fan of all styles of music. But, I love so many songs--both Christian and non-Christian. I want to make sure I use the gifts God gave me to glorify Him. I'm on this Earth for such a limited time. And, the time I spend here, I want to make sure I write songs that glorify his name.
There was a season in my life--especially in my high school years--I wrestled with the kind of music to sing. At that time, many female singers, like Britney Spears, were emerging. I thought to myself, "Hey, I can do that. I can be a Christian in the non-Christian industry. And sing songs that aren't exactly Christian."
Many believers sing non-Christian songs. I know many people who do that now. But, for me, I had a 'coming to Jesus' moment. I was struggling with what direction to take. I remember praying to God asking for that direction. I remember hearing His voice so clear, yet so gentle. The voice said, "Do you want to sing for the world or sing for me?"
At that moment, I knew I had a choice to make. I responded, "God, I want to sing for You." My path was clear after that moment. I have seen God open up so many doors for me after making the choice to sing and write for Him.
What are some of your creative influences?
I grew up listening to different types of music. My dad was a rock and roll fan from the 70s. So, I grew up listening to bands like Styx, The Rez Band, and Petra. These bands have helped me shape the way I write melodies. There is something about the songs from the 70s. Their melodies are haunting but in a beautiful way.
I also grew up listening to Michael W. Smith, who is my biggest musical influence. The first concert I ever went to was on Michael's "The Change Your World Tour." What was cool about that tour is DC Talk opened up for him.
That concert was incredible. I still remember it to this day--even though I was only nine years old. And, 20 years later, I have had the opportunity to sing with him on his "Hymns" album. It's so amazing how I got to sing with someone who influenced me as a young girl.
Tell us about your latest single.
"Control" was definitely a song God had His hand on from the beginning. I moved from Alabama to Nashville after getting a strong leading from God. I lived in Nashville for seven years when I felt God leading me again to the Atlanta area.
After moving to Atlanta, I started leading worship at a local church. The first Sunday I sang, there was a song called "Control" on the roster. I had never heard the song before and thought it was beautiful.
I asked the worship pastor, Shawn Walden, about the song. And, he told me that he wrote it. I was completely blown away because I felt like the song was made for me. The words and the melody sounded like a song I could have written.
Around that point, God told me it was time for me to start working on a new project. So, I reached out to one of my friends, Nathan Walters, who was in the Dove Award-winning group Plus One (remember them). I met Nathan while living in Nashville. He is now a very talented and successful producer, who has worked at Capitol Records.
After hearing some of the songs he had produced, I knew he was someone I had to call upon. I also knew "Control" was the song I wanted to record. I felt it would be very impactful. So, I got permission to record the song. And, started working on it in 2019.
Little did any of us know, our world would start going through a major change. I completed the song in February 2020, right before the pandemic hit hard in the United States.
"Control" fits today's circumstances perfectly. The words say, "No Fear, no doubt/I call your name and chains are broken." The lyrics are a fit for any time in someone's life's journey. But, I believe the song is God-timed; God has already begun to give people hope that He is in "Control."
What’s your favorite thing about performing live?
Performing live is one of my biggest joys. Some people get nervous before they sing. I, on the other hand, get excited. I feel this joy inside me before I sing. And, it doesn't matter if it's a big or small crowd. There's something so special about connecting with people when you sing.
I have been to many events where people dance as I sing. And, when I lead an intimate song, many people join me in worship. Some people even cry. There is nothing more impactful than to have people being touched by my voice or the songs God has given me to sing. So many people are desperate and hurting. They need hope and that hope is Jesus.
Well, with everything going on with COVID-19, things are up in the air for a lot of artists. I can say that God has been very faithful to opening up doors even though this is going on. I'm on schedule to sing at some churches, as well as online events with different ministries. Needless to say, I'm expecting and trusting God to keep opening doors. And, I'm looking forward to working on some new music projects in the future.
How can we be praying for you?
Pleased pray for God's will to be done in my life and future. I want to be faithful to whatever doors He opens. I would love prayer for financial provision for necessary things for recording music in studios--even making CDs. I want to be, do, and go wherever God leads. That is my biggest prayer of all.
Kevin McNeese started NRT in 2002 and has worked in the industry since 1999 in one form or another. He has been a fan of Christian music since 1991.
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