Rachael Jewell Sets Her Sights on the Big Show
One of Ottawa’s hidden gems, Rachael Jewell, reflects on her roots and reveals her newest endeavour into the more commercial side of the music industry.
Ottawa Life Magazine: Tell us a bit a bit your back ground, how you got into music and how the classical side came to be.
Rachael Jewell: For some people knowing what you're meant to do in life is easier than it is for others. I was one of those people. I knew I was meant to be a singer. I didn't dream about being famous, I just knew that music was the best way I knew how to express myself. I was always a quiet and introverted kid, but being on stage brought out different characters in me that otherwise would never see the outside world. I grew up in a small town called Parksville on Vancouver Island where I was lucky enough to be given many opportunities in the musical theater community and I was performing all the time. My grandmother was the most influential person while I was growing up so I wasn't allowed to sing anything but classical music. As a teenager, music became something I tried to run away from, which is the opposite of what any musician would say. I learned pretty quickly that it wasn't the music I was trying to escape from, it was the fear and expectation I had built around myself that I wasn't good enough to make it in the industry. I developed a lack of trust for many people and I lost the passion in sharing because so many people want to take advantage of that. When you're young it's hard to handle that kind of pressure. Of course I still knew I had to sing, I just didn't know where I fit in yet.
After a break from singing I decided to pursue an undergraduate and master's degree in vocal performance from the University of Ottawa. Classical music was all I knew, so naturally opera was the next step.
Tell me about your new commercial endeavour, why now? What is the main push behind this direction and where you ultimately want to end up?
I think it took me until now to realize what I have to offer the world. When I was 10 I had the opportunity to move to Toronto and start a career, but my family said no and I will forever be thankful for that. Many artists grow up with their fans, so you're completely exposed as you're going through the struggles of being a teenager and learning what it means to love yourself. Through my personal growth I've learned how to connect with so many different people, which is why I can relate to different genres of music. Classical will always be my root, but I appreciate what people see in pop/rock/jazz. The main push behind my music now is to express what experiences I've been through in my own words and melody that will hopefully resonate with people on a global scale. The world needs music that will help heal.
What are your thoughts on today’s music industry and how much it’s changed in a short time?
I will always be thankful for my classical background because I think it gives me an appreciation for a genre that connected people from a different time and place. The way music was expressed was far more complex than it is now, so it forces you to think deeper in order to understand where the composer was coming from. The melody didn't just connect four chords, it was shaped to express the composers interpretation of the poetry. Even the piano/orchestral accompaniment told it's own story. Not that today's music doesn't do that, we're just dealing with different issues in the world today and music tends to reflect that. Music has become more accessible, with more freedom to express whatever challenges people are going through. That will always be a positive thing.