Check our interview with talented soulful pop songstress and trained actress from NYC Rachel Norman.
She is currently finishing up her last semester at Muhlenberg College to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre with a double minor in Women’s & Gender Studies and Italian Studies. Over the past four years, Rachel has been performing at local venues throughout NYC, Boston, and PA in promotion of her upcoming freshman EP Resist. Most recently, she made her Rockwood Music Hall debut and headlined WMUH 91.7 FM Allentown, PA’s Red Door Concert Series, Boston Summer Music Series, and the Eastchester/Tuckahoe Summer Fest.
Her new EP “Resist” is out now!
Hi Rachel, please tell us a little about you?
Hey there! My name is Rachel Norman and I’m both a singer and actor from New York. I recently graduated from Muhlenberg College, where I studied theatre, Italian, and women’s and gender studies. Now that I’m back in the city, I’ve been pursuing both music and acting full time (plus a bit of dog walking!), and just released by debut album Resist.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Jewish Italian gal
How did it all get started / when was it that you first realized that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
Creating an album is something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was little. I spent my whole life taking voice lessons and doing theatre, but it wasn’t until I got to college that I seriously started writing my own music. The transition from high school to college was pretty difficult for me, and I turned to songwriting as a means of getting through it while also having something to do outside of classes!
Did your family support this decision?
I’m very grateful to have a family that has always been so supportive of my creative endeavors. There are boundaries to their support, because of course, I have to be able to make money and support myself. However, this has pushed me to work extra hard and take on multiple jobs/internships at a time in order to pursue my music and acting.
What kind of music do you listen to normally / musical influences / musical background?
While I’ll always be a sucker for those legendary pop icons like Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato, I absolutely love listening to folk pop, indie pop, and rnb/soul. I tend to lean more towards pop influences, however the use of harmonies incorporated into folk and rnb music takes everything to the next level. Instead of binging a new tv show, one of my favorite things to do is to listen through entire albums that I’ve never heard before, and then create playlists based on my newfound discoveries. It takes a lot of energy to scout out new music, but it’s always so rewarding when your musical tastes are pushed in directions you never thought you’d enjoy! As of right now, I’ve been listening to a lot of Lizzo, Eryn Allen Kane, Joseph, and Lucius.
Tell us about your new EP Resist?
Resist is the culmination of the past eight years of personal growth, musical development, and self actualization. I used my entire time at college to write and record the album, utilizing summer/winter breaks to work with my collaborators in Boston and New York. While the album was predominantly developed during college, I actually wrote the Intro when I was 15 years old. The entire EP focuses on themes of female agency, overcoming emotional trauma in a healthy way, and celebrating the many different kinds of love that exist within relationships. I wanted to time the release with my college graduation to serve as a form of personal catharsis, but also senior thesis if you will. This project has meant so much to me, and the process has taught me how to be vulnerable while relatable, authentic while impacted.
Where can we see you next / what’s next for Rachel Norman in 2019 / exciting news?
We got a lot of things on the docket this summer! I’ll be releasing a music video for “Verified (Acoustic)” next week, with the single following shortly. You can also check out my upcoming show at The Delancey on Friday August 2nd at 7pm! It’ll be my first performance post-EP release, and will feature a full band of incredibly talented musicians and friends. Additionally, for any of you vinyl lovers: I’ve partnered up with Leesta Vall Recording Studio to do an exclusive personalized Direct-To-Vinyl-Recording session! You can pre-order your favorite song off the EP, and I’ll record it live, straight to vinyl! Pre-order link here!
Describe your sound in 2 words?
What is your next goal as a musician?
I would love to go on tour. Since I’m still building my following, it’s a dream of mine to open for a larger scale music artist to learn from them and engage with the communities that their work attracts. Being able to sing and travel – that’s the dream!
What is your own definition of happiness?
Personal fulfillment. No matter what or who we choose to spend our days with, if it provides us with a sense of purpose and fulfillment, then that’s enough for me!
What are the five things you can’t live without?
Family, friends, art, pasta, & probably cheese
Best advice ever given / Quote?
My dad’s favorite poem is called Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. He always encourages my sister and I to “learn that poem!”, because it reminds us all to “Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.” That has always stuck with me.
Something people don’t know about you?
I love to cook! My Italian grandmother taught me how to make all of her recipes, so cooking has been my way of continuing her legacy. I cook at most family functions and when I just want to de-stress 🙂
What would be the dream adventure/vacation?
I have so many adventures on my bucket list! I love food, and want to do a southern BBQ food tour. Outside of the U.S. though, I’d love to do a Sicily/Greece tour and explore the town my family comes from!
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would be honored to meet Audre Lorde, who was a famous civil rights activist, feminist, womanist, and writer. Her poems and essays regarding civil and women’s rights have been monumental for our society’s understanding of oppression and equality. She is a true inspiration and role model!
What would be a deal breaker on a first date?
Someone who doesn’t know how to carry a conversation! Believe me, I never have a problem talking or picking up the slack, but we’ve gotta have an equal amount to say. Otherwise, no thanks!
Idea of a perfect Sunday?
Staying inside, playing music, watching a movie, and making home-made comfort food with someone.
How would you explain your fashion style?
I like to dress in some combination of cute/edgy/casual. I’m more of a dress with combat boots kinda gal! As for make-up, I’m all about winged eyeliner and a bold lip.
How important is Social Media for you?
Social media has unfortunately become a necessary evil for all those pursuing the arts. Sometimes the amount of followers you have can make or break your career prospects. I try and keep up with the whole social media game, but sometimes I’ve gotta take a break and remind myself that Instagram is not the most important thing in the world!
Where we can follow you?
You can follow me on most social media platforms!
Actor/Actress: Phoebe Waller-Bridge – everyone check out Fleabag!
Drink: Lychee Martini if I’m feelin fancy
City: NYC babyyy, but also anywhere else because ya girl likes to travel
Movie: Across the Universe
Sport Team: Yankees
Song: “Piano Song” by Eryn Allen Kane
Press photo: Mia Shmariahu.