We had the opportunity to speak to MOBO Award Winner Rachel Kerr, who is currently out with her long-awaited debut album ‘Masterpeace’. ‘Masterpeace’ has been in the works for four years and it’s an undiluted and unapologetic expression of Rachel Kerr’s most sincere musical work, packed with 11 soulful tunes each with soothing melodic sounds reflecting her musical prowess.
Stream ‘Masterpeace’ here:orcd.co/rachelkerrmasterpeace.
Rachel talks about how she got into music, Her creative process, the inspiration behind her debut album, and many more in this interview.
Who’s Rachel Kerr?
Rachel Kerr is a singer/songwriter from Walsall, West Midlands, and is now based between London and the US. This dynamic performer has won a MOBO Award, a UK Entertainment Award, and has received Grammy Award considerations. To date, she has sold-out shows at the O2 Academy Islington and has toured America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe.
Her musical accolades have granted her personal invitations from the UK Prime Minister to attend 10 Downing Street where she was commended for her contributions to music. She was also previously honored with an invitation to sing for the former US President.
Thank you for sharing your time with us, what genre of music would you say best describes your sound?
Tell us what first got you into music, Who inspired you to make music & your biggest influence.
I was obsessed with the likes of Brandy, Aaliyah, and Destiny’s Child growing up but especially
Aaliyah I even impersonated her on a popular TV talent contest called Stars in Their Eyes when I was 15 years old. These phenomenal ladies of R&B absolutely inspired me to start writing songs and recording them on my karaoke machine, when I was a child.
I come from a very musical background my Dad is a legendary Gospel singer and all my family sing so I almost feel like I’ve always been in music in some way but I think my official launch was in 2010 when I moved from the small town I grew up into London. It wasn’t long after being there and singing at many of the local music events that I found myself approached by a management team and being nominated for a MOBO award and Urban Music Award.
How do people relate to your sound?
–On this album, I wrote anthems like “I Am” and “Change” which are by design powerful self-affirming anthems, giving listeners a musical soundtrack to elevate their sense of self-worth, self-appreciation, and hope for a brighter future. Because my music has substance, I always find that it impacts people quite deeply. This is very intentional. I’m unapologetic that every thread of my music is hopeful and inspirational but also isn’t afraid to tackle the ugliness of being real.
Describe your creative process, how do you find inspiration to create music?
Honestly, it took about 4 years to create this album. Granted the pandemic stole 2 years from us but about 4 years. My main goal for this album was to be fearless. Fearlessly authentic, fearlessly vulnerable, fearlessly creative, and fearlessly honest. There’s been a lot of fear associated with creating in the past, driven by a desire to please. In the past I’ve been focused on creating music that would be played on the radio, that sounded commercially viable, that would be loved by a certain demographic of people and when I listen back, I can hear just how my unique sound didn’t shine through as much as I would have liked. But this time with my debut album I spent a lot of time alone, in my studio listening to no one but me. The song melodies, vocal harmonies, and lyric melodies would literally come to me in a dream or at home and then I’d hit record or take the idea to my amazing producers to help bring the concept to life. Nine times out of ten I’ll hear the song’s bass line first. I don’t know what it is about the bass, it’s like my spirit instrument. I always hear that first, then the lyric melody will follow. My lyrics are honest, hopeful, and sincere. I’m not afraid to be real, vulnerable, and show my humanity. I think that this can in fact be empowering, letting my listeners know that it’s ok to be vulnerable and, in your vulnerability, you can find strength. I wanted this album to be full of head-bopping, bass-driven anthems and I’m so proud that this piece of music is the best of me. The only problem I have is picking my favorite songs, they’re all my little babies and my listeners can get something potentially life-changing from each song.
Let’s talk about your debut album. Any inspiration behind the name “Masterpeace”?
This album really is my Masterpiece. 4 years, a lot of growth and real craftsmanship when writing the songs, producing the music, directing the choir, and composing all the live instrumentation. It wasn’t easy but, I want to be known as excellent and truly skillful. This album is the best of me to date hence its name. But on the other side, the play on words is my heart’s desire. Wherever music and my career takes me I always want peace. This industry can be crazy at the best of times but so far as I’m creating music and a lifestyle that ushers in peace that’s really all I want. Also, I want this music to give peace and vibes to everyone who listens to it.
What’s your favorite song off your debut album?
Oh wow, that is literally like asking a mother to pick her favorite child. Haha. They all mean a lot but I’m particularly proud of “I Am”, “Center”, “Change” and the vocal production of “Artist In Me”. I am also proud of my songwriting on “I Do” And “Alive”… then I can’t forget “Rescue”… see how hard this is? haha
Stream “Masterpeace” Below:
You earlier mentioned it took four years to put out your debut album, what gave you the final push to put it out?
4 years. I’m so grateful for my Manager who literally would not rest until the music was finished and released. Many of my fans thank me for releasing the album but the truth is they really should be thanking him!
With how unique each song sounds, which of the songs was the hardest to create and also which was the easiest?
Hmm I found it difficult to create the chorus and bridge for “Alive”, the song is so big, I wanted to do it justice but my producer really helped me on that one. Also, I found it difficult to think of what direction the instrumental composition of “Almost There” should take. There’s a theme here, I guess I struggled with the big orchestral songs. But in general, I tend to find creation easy and quite quick. 9 times out of ten my first instinct is normally the right one.
How is the response for “Masterpeace” so far?
I remain grateful the album went to number 2 in the R&B Album charts. Has received worldwide playlisting from Apple Music to Spotify and Tidal. And we’ve had some major media coverage with fashion and music media giants like GQ and Notion. Also, BET has premiered my music video for “I Do” across all their television channels in the States. Naturally, I’m ambitious and know there’s still work for me to do and new territories to possess.
Is ”Masterpeace” your first body of work?
Masterpeace is my debut album. But I have released 3 Eps and a mixtape prior to this album. When you compare this album to those previous releases the growth is so evident. I’m grateful that those releases allowed me to experiment with my sound and to artistically grow to the point where now I can release my best musical work to date, my Masterpeace.
What separates you from other artists?
So much, all artists have their unique vibe. For me, my live performance has always been explosive and incredibly passionate. I’m excited to share that more with the world on my Tour this year. Also, my lyrics ad subject matters are incredibly inspiring, empowering, and unapologetically real. The substance in the music’s subject matter is absolutely something that sets me apart.
What is your favorite part about being an artist and your least favorite?
My favorite part is creating in the studio with my amazing team, who are more like family now and performing on stage. There are times when I literally feel like I’m souring, it’s easy, it’s enjoyable, and sometimes even therapeutic. I hate the business side, the politics, and at times the opportunity discrimination.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Another amazing question. The answer is wide-ranging because I do dabble in so many artistic genres. But my preference would be to collaborate with an artist who would unlock a new phase to my creativity, an artist who would force me to switch up my natural creative methods to reveal a whole new vibe. Whilst I admire the artistry of a lot of people in the industry, it’s hard to know exactly which artists that would be until we get in the studio and see what magic we could create.
What are you most proud of to date or the biggest highlight of your career so far?
There have been a few. My first music award (MOBO Award), performing and meeting the former US President who was very complimentary of my performance. Being invited by the UK Prime Minster to 10 Downing Street where I was commended for my achievements in music. And I think the first time I found out I had been Grammy Award considered. These are some of the highlights.
Do you do anything Besides music? and how do you balance music with it?
I’ve founded a performing arts school which I have been running for 10 years. I’ve made mistakes in my music journey, I’m not afraid to acknowledge that. I think many artists do since there is really no manual on how to be a successful singer. But one thing that I became painfully aware of is just how many critics there are in the music industry, but very few teachers. To this day I have never had someone reach out to me and say “Rachel, I think you could have done this better, come, let me teach you how to do it better for next time”. So essentially, I started my Performing arts Academy because I wanted to be for other performers what I desperately wished I had started out in music.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve been so fortunate to build a team of coaches and staff who share the same relentless passion as me to see people become the best version of themselves on and off the stage. They help me balance everything. We train international superstars like Tiwa Savage, P-Square, Waje, and many others. Through our training programs not only have I seen unbelievable vocal transformations in our clients, but life transformations. Literally, one young girl joined the school as a trainee nurse, then through our artist training program launched her EP, achieved nominations for a MOBO Award and Urban Music Award, and is still making music to this day. This is one of many stories of our clients. It’s amazing to witness the fulfillment and confidence human beings gain when they start investing in their God-given gifts and talents. It is literally life-changing. I would know, I was my very first student.
What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your music career?
I was training to be a Corporate Lawyer before I got the opportunity to be an artist. I would still very much be doing that right now if not for music.
What’s next for you? Do you have any upcoming events/shows or projects?
Yes, I will be touring Europe the UK, and the US this year and in the process of adding dates in the Caribbean.
Tickets: https://www.rachelkerrmusic.com/tour .
If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
I would get back to a time where true talent ruled over gimmicks.
Give us your final words as well as a message to your fans.
Firstly I want to say a massive thank you for riding with me so patiently and caring enough about the music to share it with your networks and make it a part of your lives. It means more to me than you would ever know. My hope is when my tour comes to a city near you that we can meet, laugh, and sing these anthems out together.
And to the budding singers out there who are watching my journey, I would say. Pursue character over your comforts. Your life is your ultimate Masterpiece. Most people want an amazing life, career, and relationships but what I’ve learned is that when you really work hard and invest into being the best version of yourself, in spirit, mind, and truth you then start to attract the best. This is not an overnight thing it takes time, but again patience nurtures character.
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