Hailing from Birmingham, England, MOBO Award winner Rachel Kerr is a powerhouse you will soon hear more of in the U.S. She released her debut EP in 2012 entitled “Back to Music,” which is an homage to old school soul stemming from the singer-songwriter’s gospel upbringing (check out the video for the single “Hold My Hand”). Now with her second EP, “Getting Started,” the powerhouse and dynamic performer’s ride is, well, just beginning as her talents should take her far into the future.
Having recently shared the stage with Brandy, those of us in the United States are poised to see more of Rachel as she’s about to embark on a 6-city tour this fall. “I’m a bit of a mad woman on stage but that’s my passion. My love for music is evident and when I’m on stage, it consumes me. I ensure that my movement and the music work hand in hand, which is always entertaining,” says Kerr.
Check out her upcoming New York City appearances and check out our Q&A with Ms. Kerr below:
October 8 BET Music Matters @ SOBs
October 15 @ Red Lion East Village
October 16 SOL Village @ SOBs
October 20 R&B Spotlight @ SOBs
Singersroom: You recently performed alongside Brandy at the O2 Arena. How was that?
Rachel Kerr: I’ve never been more excited, humbled and nervous at the same time. I look up to Brandy in so many ways. Having met and spoken with her, I was determined to do her and the United Kingdom proud. It really was a dream come true.
Singersroom: You’re getting ready to embark on your first U.S. tour; The Getting Started tour. What cities will you be hitting?
Kerr: I know I'm over excited! I'll be hitting; New York, LA, Atlanta, Houston, Washington, D.C. and Phoenix. I've never been to a lot of these places, so I'm so grateful my gift is taking me to new places.
Singersroom: What do you do on your downtime?
Kerr: I enjoy cooking, busting jokes with my family, songwriting. I love watching reality TV especially Love & Hip Hop and The Real Housewives franchise too but I don't always have as much time as I would like to give my reality cravings the attention they deserve. [Laughs]
Singersroom: Tell us about your latest EP “Getting Started” (concept, inspiration, etc.)
Kerr: Getting Started is me and I'm so proud of this body of work! The uptempo songs, the inspirational and heartfelt subject matters, the Caribbean inspired twang and, of course, a few power vocals. I poured my heart into it. I really wanted to start my musical journey with a bang. Many people (honestly at time myself included) did not think I'd come this far or achieve a lot of what I've been blessed enough to achieve in such a short space of time. But I'm so aware that this isn't the time to get complacent or even doubt whether I have a future in music. Like the title says, the best is yet to come and I'm just 'Getting Started'.
Singersroom: How important for you is it to write your own songs?
Kerr: It's ridiculously important. Artistry is an expression of one’s self. To date I have really struggled to sing songs that weren't an expression from my heart to my audiences. That's not to say it won't happen but it just hasn't happened yet. What is so weird is that I classify myself a songwriter first. I've been writing since I was 15 for ministry of sound and many others, it's my comfort zone. When I moved from the small town where I was raised to London I was so shocked that I was getting attention as a vocalist. I come from a family full of ridiculous singers, so I didn't really consider myself that great.
Singersroom: How does it feel being compared to Beyoncé?
Kerr: I'm compared to so many people and it changes with every interview I do. It ranges from India Arie to Whitney Houston to Tina Turner and others, I can’t keep up. [Laugh] But every female has been a beautiful example of talent, strength, passion and a formidable sense of purpose that for me is so flattering. Naturally any new artist wants to be known for his or her own unique artistry but I'm under no illusions, that is earned and I'm ready to earn that recognition.
Singersroom: The themes in your music are so upbeat and positive. Does that reflect your current state of mind?
Kerr: Absolutely! I am an encourager. In my friendship circle I'm the go-to-girl for advice, a bit of wisdom and encouragement and I know that that is part of my purpose on this earth. I take so much pleasure in it. It's only right that my music reflects my natural character. I mean let's not get it twisted I definitely have my 'woe is me' days but I've learned what to do to encourage myself and stay positive.
Singersroom: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Kerr: There are so many times even in the last few years of singing that I've had a beautiful well thought out plan that just flopped but also had times when I had nothing and was blessed with a MOBO award, the chance to sing to Bill Clinton and with Brandy so I'm learning to take every day as it comes and enjoy the ride. Naturally though I have to see progression, I'd be so overwhelmed to know that in 5 years’ time my music was received and loved by most people all over the world and that I had made my mark on music history.
Singersroom: Name your top 5 favorite artists of all time
Kerr: In no particular order Bob Marley, Whitney Houston, Brandy, Aaliyah and Destiny's Child.
Singersroom: How would you compare the R&B music scene/markets in the UK to the U.S?
Kerr: Wow! The U.S. scene is so much more embracing of creativity. I think in the UK, we are still figuring out what R&B music is and whether it has a future. But in the U.S I see so much more open mindedness, creativity and a willingness to ensure the genre is ever evolving and not about to die out.
Singersroom: Where is your favorite venue to perform?
Kerr: I've had some incredible memories at the O2 and Wembley Arenas. I love intimate venues but I tend to be a tad nervous before I step on stage. Truth is I'm short-sighted so when I step out in an arena I can hardly see anything anyway so I just figure I might as well really go for it, if people don't like it, it's not like I can see their faces [Laughs].
Singersroom: How can Americans buy your latest EP “Getting Started”?