Rachel Marie's new CD goes organic
Folksinger and songwriter Rachel Marie has enthralled music lovers locally and beyond. Her highly- anticipated CD, "There is Love," will be available at her CD release party concert, 7 p.m. Dec. 22, Gertrude B. Fox Environmental Center (formerly Illick's Mill), 100 Illick's Mill Road, Bethlehem.
An early influence on Bethlehem native Rachel Marie was her father's love of music which filled the family home. Her father has been an amateur singer songwriter since his youth.
"My dad has been writing music and singing since he was in high school. When I was little, my Dad was always singing and playing songs that he had written. He never did it professionally, but it was always there," she says. "Eventually, I picked up one of his guitars and started teaching myself to sing.
"I really started playing outside of my room when I was in high school. I would play at places like the Wildflower, which was on the south side [of Bethlehem] and isn't anymore.
"I played Godfrey Daniels open mikes and places in Easton," she says. "So, I would just get out to open mikes and when I got older and got more experience I started getting paying gigs in high school."
Rachel Marie made a recording while in high school, but it was simple and recorded while playing guitar in a friend's basement.
When faced with the decision of who to ask to appear on her new album, Rachel chose people from her circle of friends as opposed to seeking out strangers. "One of my favorite things about this album is that it really is just a bunch of my friends. I really wanted to keep it in my little musical family," she says.
"The recording that I did this summer is something that I am really excited about," she says.
"I have a few different friends on it [the new CD] that I know from Bethlehem. My friend, Elena Gambino, who also went to Liberty [High School], plays violin on it. Dave Fry plays mandolin on a track and my friend, Ansel Barnum, plays harmonica. I have my dad playing bass on one of the tracks.
"My friend, who is an art major at Drew University, did the cover art."
The recording process began in June. Rachel Marie had all of her tracks recorded by the end of the summer after which she approached the musicians who would end up collaborating on the album. The finished project was completed a few weeks ago.
Asked to describe her style of music she says, "The way I would describe my style is 'folk-pop.' That's the genre I have been putting myself under. It's the best umbrella for me."
Rachel Marie recently completed a cross-country tour playing small bookstores and venues from Pennsylvania to California and back.
During the performance at the Fox Environmental Center, Rachel Marie will be accompanied by several of the performers who appear on the album. "I'll have Ansel Barnum playing harmonica and Elena Gambino playing violin and my dad, Bill Schachter, playing bass."
The tracks on the CD are all originals with additional input from the musicians she worked with.
"With most people I just sent them rough tracks and said, 'Come up with what you can,' explains Marie. "I also have a friend, Betty Louie, who played cello on the CD. She has never done the sort of organic music that I feel like folk music is.
"The friend I had recording my music worked with me to arrange a part for her, but everyone else just came up with whatever part they were doing, either sitting around and playing it with me or just listening to it themselves.
"I did compose everything, but in terms of the harmonica, bass and mandolin parts those were organically created when someone else was responding to my music. That's what I really love about it."