EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Rachel Holder

It makes sense that Rachel Holder recorded a version of Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory.”  The 19-year-old singer is herself on the edge of, if not glory, what may prove to be a successful career in country music.

Yes, there ae plenty of other young, pretty singers out there with her, all vying for your attention.  But unlike some who might need a gimmick to grab that attention, Holder aims to attract it with one thing and one thing only:  Her talent.  She has a powerful, four-octave range that can both touch and amaze you at the same time.

We’ve already been given a taste of that talent with the release of her single “In Your Arms,” which only needed a few weeks to start impacting the charts.

Right now the native of Chattanooga, Tennessee is busy working on her debut album, Unstoppable, for Curb Records.  It’s being produced by Chuck Howard and Wilbur Rimes, who is LeAnn’s  father.  If he’s able to help Rachel find a fraction of his daughter’s success, then she won’t be on the edge of glory, she’ll be smack dab in the middle of it.

In the following interview, we talk with Rachel about her single, fans going gaga for her Gaga cover, who inspires her (plus her encounters with those people) and finding her way with faith.

Let’s start by talking about your single, “In Your Arms.”  How did that song come to you and what made it the choice to be your very first single?

When I first heard “In Your Arms” I was like, “Oh, my gosh!  I have to cut that song!”  It was just so amazing!  Wilbur Rimes, who is part of my consulting team over at Curb Records and a producer on my new album, he sent it to me and just fell in love with it.

The song is just so open.  You can take it spiritually; you can take it as a relationship; a friendship; someone in the Army; a sick patient; anything you want.  That’s what’s so cool about a song like “In Your Arms” is that you can take it any way you want.

The song has only been out for a few weeks, but it’s already making an impact.  It just broke the Top 20 on the Music Row chart.  What’s your reaction to how quickly the song is being embraced?

I couldn’t believe it!  I freaked out!  When I found out it was number 20, I was like, “What?  Top 20?  Seriously?”  I’m so thankful and blessed!  I’m speechless about it.  The way I look at it, I owe it all to God.

You already have the video out for the song.  It appears that it was a day at the beach – literally!

Shooting the video was so much fun, except it was really, really, really cold!  (Laughs)  I was like shivering the whole time!  But it was so much fun.  It took one day to shoot it.  The director, Eric, was amazing and I just can’t wait for my next video.

It was actually shot in Malibu, California.  Well, a little bit north of it in El Matador.  We really didn’t want to narrow it down when we were talking about what the plot was and everything.  I guess the horse represents whatever you want it to be.

Your debut album, Unstoppable, will be coming out this fall.  Is Unstoppable one of the tracks and why did you choose it as the album title?

“Unstoppable” is a wonderful song on the album.  The way I look at it is it appeals to my fans and it appeals to me because I believe that whatever you want to do in life you should be unstoppable.  That goes for anybody – not just me and my music career and not just for the song.  But it’s for any woman or man.  Go for your dreams.  Don’t let anybody stop you.

What types of music will we be hearing on your album?  I understand it’ll be a lot more than just country, correct?

You can expect all genres on the new album: Bluegrass, traditional country, new country, pop, rock, everything.  Even a Spanish song!  You can expect everything on my brand new album.

It’s so exciting.  I can’t wait for the public to hear it!

How nice is it to be able to say the words:  “your album”?

I know!  It’s so exciting!  And I also already have a Christmas album.  We’ve already got that finished, too.  We’re already workin’ on the second album.

It’s so much fun getting to do what I love and getting out here on the road and doing these radio tours and everything.

Your album is being produced by Chuck Howard and Wilbur Rimes, who is the father of LeAnn Rimes.  Through that connection have you been able to get any guidance from her about your career?

I met LeAnn a couple of years ago before I even met Wilbur.  I actually got to have dinner with her this past year in Chicago when her and her husband were up there filming a movie.

The advice she gave me was to live your dream and don’t give up.  She was so young (when she started) and I respect her because she’s lived the dream that I want to live.

It’s amazing to hear the stories from Wilbur and her about how things happened and back in 1996 how they got started and everything.  That’s just so amazing!  It’s just not every day that you get to work with LeAnn Rimes’ Dad!

Mr. Rimes has been through the experience of starting a career with his own daughter.  How great of a help has all of his experience been for you?

It’s amazing.  We tell stories all the time.  He tells me the ins and outs.  He’s a very close person. We’re very close to his family.  And his wife is amazing.

Also Chuck Howard, you know, produced the longest song, other than Jason Mraz’s, on Billboard’s history.  He and Wilbur produced “How Do I Live.”

As this is your first album, what’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about the whole recording process?

The most surprising thing is the amount of time and effort and the number of people it takes to put an album together,  You’ve got the producers; you’ve got the arrangers; you’ve got the engineers; the mixers; the masters; the backgrounds; the musicians.  You’ve got to have each puzzle piece and you’ve got to put it all together.  You’ve pretty much got to put a puzzle together.

It’s a beautiful art and I’m just so lucky and fortunate to do what I love!

Who is role model and inspiration when it comes to music?

My inspiration is Dolly Parton.  She’s just everything that you can imagine in the music business.  She’s like the cream of the crop, you know?

It’s not because of what she’s done (musically), it’s because she’s given back to the community.  And she’s so humble.  She’s always been herself and she’s never let anything change her.  That’s just so amazing.

I got the chance to meet her two years ago and ever since then we’ve been pen pals.  We write to each other.  I send her my music and she writes me back.  Every letter she’s ever written me I hang it on my wall.  So I’m pretty excited about that!

We’ have to talk about the video of your cover of Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory.”  (See the video below)  You posted it in February and it instantly went viral, getting more than one million views.  Did the response catch you off guard?

It really did!  I didn’t expect any of that at all!  When we went into the studio, Kevin Moore produced “Edge of Glory” along with Elmer Cole, my vocal coach.   They went in and put in 142 hours into it.  It was a very, very long week!  (Laughs)

But it came out wonderful.  Obviously, it’s all a cappella and I did every part on the song.  We put a lot of hard work into it and I think it came out beautiful.

Everyone was like, “Why “Edge of Glory”?”  Because if you take someone like Lady Gaga who is different and absolutely amazing in the pop world, and you kind of mix her with a little bit of country, it’s definitely so cool!

You hit one note in that song that if most people tried to hit it, they would end up in the hospital!  Where in the world does that come from?

I say that God gave it to me!  I’ve been working with my vocal coach since I was 10 years old and I’ve developed a four-octave range.  I just now figured it out about three years ago that I could actually do a whistle tone.

Everybody tells me that in that song that I can break glass or something!  But I’m just doin’ what I love to do! (Laughs)

It’s clear you have such a love, joy and passion for music.  You’re about to hit another level in being able to share your gift with other people.  What for you will define that sharing as being a success?

Success for me is to just keep giving music to my fans.  And also to keep staying on the road and meeting people; going to radio stations; doin’ shows.  Hopefully one day to be on a headlining tour.

That’s a huge goal — especially for just starting out.  But I believe that if I keep God first and don’t let any obstacles get in my way, that one day it will be very possible for me to have that.

But the way I look at that, too, is it’s whatever God wants me to do in life.  He’s led me down this path for a reason.  I don’t know why but, you know what?  I’m just gonna enjoy the ride

Some artists might shy away from talking about religion, but it’s clear that faith plays a major role in your life.  Would you discuss how important your faith is in all that you do?

Oh, definitely!  God’s a big part of my life!  It’s so cool that I can talk with you about this because sometimes you get interviews that really don’t want to talk on religion and stuff.  But I’m not afraid to talk about it.

He’s the one who gave me my talent.  I wouldn’t be here in this position today (if not for Him).  I go to church pretty much every Sunday.  I’m sure there’s been a couple I’ve missed this year, but I try to go as much as I can.  I try to do a daily devotion if I can.

People need to remember where we got our talent from, because if it wasn’t for Him, we wouldn’t have our talent or we wouldn’t be here.

We’re all waiting for your big album debut, but it turns out your big stage debut came four years ago when you went from being an audience member to singing a duet with Vince Gill.  How did that happen?

I was at a Vince Gill concert when I was 15 years old.  I was in the second row at a show in my hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  I looked at my Mom and Dad and was like, “I really want to get on stage with Vince Gill tonight.  I want to sing ‘Oklahoma Swing’ with him.”  My parents were like, “Okay, Rachel.  This is our hometown.  Please don’t embarrass us!”  It’s just embarrassing to have someone stand up in a 3,000 seat theater and say, “Can I sing you a song with you, Vince Gill?”  I mean, come on!

So I raised my hand right after he got done singing “Go Rest High On That Mountain” and I said, “Mr. Vince, can I sing a song with you?”  And he said, “I normally don’t do this, but come on up here!”  So we sang “Oklahoma Swing” together.  After that he said, “Well, I think you just did Reba proud!”  It was amazing.  We high-fived at the end!

He’s another one of my inspirations.  That whole night I don’t think he was ever off pitch.  He’s an amazing vocalist and an amazing entertainer.

Are there any final thoughts you’d like to share with everyone?

Thank you to the listeners!  Thank you for taking the time to listen.  Be sure to find me on Facebook, Twitter (@RachelHolder), MySpace and YouTube.  All of the social media outlets.  And my website at www.rachelholder.com.

Be sure to write me and tell me your story.  You hear about mine all the time!  I know people get tired of that!  (Laughs)  But I would love to hear from them and pay tribute to them.  If they listen to me on the radio and listen to me in interviews, then I should give them respect and listen back!