It’s been wonderful interviewing Rachael. I find her truly honest and humble, and I, in turn, am inspired and humbled by what I’ve come to learn from and about her. When I first listened to her album, I said within myself, “Goodness! Such honesty!” I couldn’t help but seek out the person behind such beautiful music/lyrics, and she graciously spared us her time. Folks, I hope you’re inspired by her as I am. You can read my review of her album, and more importantly, I hope you get to listen to it as well. it’s available on itunes.
Join us below!
Me: Hello Rachael! Delighted to have you visit To Be A Person Please tell us a bit about yourself. Coffee or tea?
Rachael: Both. Coffee in the morning & tea in the afternoon!
Me: Sweet! To be honest, I’ve never in an interview had anyone say that before!
Rachael, your album is full of heart and faith. Please tell us, when did you first find God for yourself?
Rachael: I was raised in a Christian home so I was always surrounded by amazing examples of what walking with Jesus looked like, but I would say that I found a real relationship with Jesus for myself in the 6th grade.
Me: I’m glad God provided you with great examples while you were still so young. Not many people have that.
At what point in your life did you know you would serve God through the ministry of music. What led to that moment?
Rachael: My brothers and I went on a trip to Germany when I was in the 8th grade to make some music with a producer we met through a family friend. We came back with a seventeen-song demo that led to several record deal offers and I believe that was when we really knew that this was our calling.
Me: 8th grade? So young!
Your debut album, Honestly, tells your story in a remarkable way. What message do you hope to pass across to your listeners?
Rachael: My prayer is that it reaches people where they are. The album touches on a lot of topics, from gossip and using our tongues as a deadly weapon, to protecting your marriage from outside influences and listening only to God’s voice for guidance. The entire album is honest to my own stories and experiences, so in most of it I am really speaking to myself. It is more of a confession and was therapeutic for me personally, and, I hope that in that there is a message for others of encouragement, conviction, growth, faith, and honesty. The record is a musical journal of my life’s highs and lows that forced me to take a look in the mirror and I hope it inspires others to do the same. We all need to grow, every day.
Me: What an honest answer. Inspiring, too. Thank you for that!
Tell us about your family. How has being a wife and mother changed you as a person, and made you a better artist?
Rachael: It has changed me in every way possible! First, becoming a wife and learning to put someone else’s needs before my own in that way, and then again in becoming a mother. My family is everything to me and I feel so blessed to have them in my life. I have learned so much about what love really is and I believe that has in turn made me a better person and artist.
Me: What a testimony!—one to pay attention to, too! I’m glad you speak of love this way. In the world today, many believe that selfishness and self-preservation is the way to go. I pray that with your answer, people learn different.
You have a long history with music. In what way has it grown you spiritually and closer to God?
Rachael: I think just going through all that we have in this industry has grown me as a person and in my relationship with the Lord. We have been through so many trials and have experienced so many miracles and blessings as well, and through it all God has been ever faithful. I feel like it is impossible to not grow in those times!
Me: I agree. The faithfulness of God does cause one to be in awe of Him. And then, in feeling honored by Him, we are humbled in the process. Thank you for that!
In your own opinion, what are the misconceptions people in the world have about the music industry, especially in regards to hard work, fame, and the road to fame?
Rachael: There are so many people that believe that if you sign a record deal they will buy you cars and mansions and, you will become a superstar overnight. But the reality is that it is a business just like any other business, and it takes very hard work and dedication to become successful.
Me: “Buy you cars and mansions …” Really? Unbelievable! Thank you for setting the record straight. How is the Christian music industry different from the secular? What are the advantages of one over the other?
Rachael: I think the biggest difference is the way “success” is defined. I believe that if you are a Christian called by the Lord to do music, then your definition of success looks very different than those who are in the music industry for other reasons. Reaching one person you were called to reach with the message God gave you would be considered success, even if you didn’t make millions of dollars doing it. But honestly, I feel that applies to any industry. As believers we should be working for the Lord and not men, no matter what it is we do. When God calls you to do something, He gives you the tools you need to accomplish what you’ve set out to do. I would call that a HUGE advantage!
Me: I pray more Christians in the industry will come to think as you do. As an author, I find your words something to hold onto.
In your own opinion, what is the one thing (or several) that the Christian music industry lacks?
Rachael: I think one thing the Christian music industry lacks is an open mind. Things have been done the same way for a very long time, and, no matter how much the world changes (in regards to sound and what is popular), the Christian industry seems to have a hard time accepting things that are new or different. I feel that is a huge disadvantage as the industry does not favor a lot of the music this generation listens to, making it hard for artists like myself to get the needed exposure via Christian radio, publications, etc. More importantly, I feel that it is a disservice to the generation that needs to hear it—the kids who love hip hop, r&b, etc—and want to find Christian music within these genres, but have a hard time finding it.
Me: A very thoughtful and poignant response! I hope more and more people read your answer and are enlightened by it. Also, I’m thankful for the changes we see every day, no matter how little.
Where do you see the Christian music industry in the next five to ten years?
Rachael: I hope to see a change in that (see previous answer). I hope to see the Christian industry opening its arms to promoting all music that glorifies the Lord and not just the music that fits into the format that has “worked” for so long. I remember when I first signed to a Christian record label in 2002, I read an article that said that the Christian industry was 10 years away from having a clue what to do with hip hop music. Well it has been over 10 years since then, and, yet, hip hop is still rarely played on major Christian radio stations. My hope is to see a change in that area.
Me: Amen to that! God is the creator of all talent, music, and skill. I pray that we come to fully understand and appreciate that.
Are you currently working on something new? What can we expect from you in the future?
Rachael: Right now I am just focusing on letting the Lord lead with the album I released in August. I didn’t approach this album with a major game plan, I felt that God was calling me to be completely honest not only in my writing of the songs, but in my expression of where I am in my life right now. I have a husband and a little girl, and am a stay at home mommy; and that is my first ministry above all else. So I am waiting on the Lord’s guidance on what opportunities to pursue from here.
Me: And so I pray the Lord blesses your work—all of it!—at home and in the studio!
Who are the people your heart writes for, when you write songs—the fallen, the broken-hearted?
Rachael: Honestly, I write songs for everyone—myself included. I write about whatever God puts on my heart in hopes that it will touch someone in the way God intended it to. I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to affect anyone’s life in a positive way through music, and to point them to Jesus.
Me: Amen to that!
Who are the people that have inspired/encouraged you the most? How have they done so?
Rachael: I would have to say my family. Each of them have taught me so much individually, most of all, my husband. He is a constant reminder of what love is, he believes in me, encourages me, teaches me, loves unconditionally, and listens when I need a shoulder. I have been extremely blessed with a loving man of God as a husband and leader for our family.
Me: I thank God for you, Rachael! May God keep you all, and may your story bless and inspire others! Amen.
How do you hope to serve God and impact the world with your music—Christians and non-Christians?
Rachael: My hope is that through my honesty and transparency of what my everyday life looks like, people will be encouraged that I am just like them. I go through terrible times, too. I can be a total monster, and there are times when I’m not fond of the person I see in the mirror. Without God I am nothing, and my hope is that the stories I tell, speak of a savior who can change everything for them, just as He has for me.
Me: Love your honesty! It will help reach others even better.
Rachael, tell us why a Christian should go into music. How powerful do you think music can be in impacting a person’s life?
Rachael: I believe a Christian should step out into whatever their calling is. I believe that if God is telling you to do something you should DO IT. No questions asked. Music particularly has a way of reaching people in a place that cannot be explained. It pulls out memories and heals brokenness in a way we can’t even put into words. If the Lord is calling you as a Christian to do music for His glory, I can’t promise you the road will be easy, but I can promise you it will be beautiful. Walking in God’s will for your life always is.
Me: Wow! Need I say anymore?
Who are the artists you’ve worked with in the past? Are you working with any now? Who do you hope to work with in the future?
Rachael: On this album I had the pleasure of working with my brother Je’kob, Canon, Deraj, and Beleaf. In regards to the future, well, you never know!
Me: I’m glad you’ve gotten such encouragement from other artists. I hope you get to collaborate with even more!
How has working with these artists shaped you as an artist? What lessons have you learned along the way? How have they made you a better Christian?
Rachael: Watching other artists use their talent to glorify God is always inspiring. I have learned so much from being able to witness the way others create, and watching the Lord work in their lives as well. I feel very blessed to have been able to work with such talented artists in my career.
Me: I can relate. In the presence of God, iron will always sharpen iron.
You believe love and fairytale are real. What would you say to a person who doesn’t believe—someone who has given up?
Rachael: I don’t know that I believe in fairytale per say, I believe that God has a perfect plan for each of us. Most importantly I believe that His plan often looks very different than what we would plan for ourselves! For someone who has given up I would ask that they remember that you know what God can do for you by what He has done for you. When something we think is best doesn’t work out, we find that God has something so much better waiting for us.
Me: Thank you for that word of faith and wisdom! Also, please excuse my use of the word “fairytale”.
Rachael, is there a word you’d like to offer—anything at all!—that wasn’t covered by the questions above? We’d love a word of advice or two!
Rachael: I appreciate all of the support you have all shown me through the years! I hope that this record will inspire you the way it has inspired me and that I can continue to bring God glory through it. Thank you all for this opportunity to share my stories with you and for being willing to listen. Blessings to you all!
Me: You’re welcome! And, blessings to you and your family, too!
THIS OR THAT (The Fun Questions!)
Heels or Flats? Definitely heels!
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate everything!! *smiling*
Orange juice or lemonade? Lemonade!
Boots or Sandals? Boots. Oh, yes!
Rain or snow? I grew up in Hawaii and San Diego, so I don’t have much experience with snow for long periods of time. I think it is so beautiful, but I am completely obsessed with rainy days so I’ll have to go with rain. Nice! Love rain, too!
Fruits or vegetables? Fruits.
Gym or outdoor? Outdoor.
Run or walk? DANCE 🙂 *Thumbs up!*
Book or Movie? Movie.
Thank you, Rachael, for stopping by today!
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About Rachael Messini
Singer, rapper, and songwriter Rachael Messini was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1984. Rachael started dancing (tap, jazz and ballet) competitively at the age of 4 and began singing for fun around the same time. Singing and dancing became her passion and in 1998 (8th grade) Rachael’s part-time family music group “Souljahz” got a chance to go overseas to Aachen, Germany to record their first full length album with a young producer who they met through a family friend. Upon their return to the states their father took the finished album to ASCAP. A few meetings later, they found themselves sitting in the offices of Jimmy Iovine, the CEO of Interscope Records. The group received offers from several major labels including Interscope, Warner Bros. & Atlantic Records. In the year 2000, after lengthy negotiations, they ended up signing a deal with Warner Bros. Upon their first major label release in 2002, Rachael became the youngest singer, writer, and producer in Warner Bros history, at only 17 years old.
As SoulJahz, they performed alongside the likes of No Doubt, Nelly, Counting Crows, Ja Rule, Ashanti,
Garbage, Boyz II Men, and Erykah Badu on a cross country tour in support of their major label debut “The Fault Is History.” Television features followed on CNN Headline News, E!, Billboard, The WB, plus a slot on Sessions@AOL beside Christina Aguilera, 50 Cent, Shania Twain, Faith Hill and Red Hot Chili Peppers. The group’s debut album had several #1 CHR hits sand won them 2 Dove awards. But even with the tremendous amount of buzz and overwhelming fanfare, red tape soon wrapped itself around the burgeoning band, putting a long delay on what would’ve been its sophomore CD.
In 2006, the group re-emerged independently as The Washington Projects. They have since released two albums, “Commanders Of The Resistance” in 2007, and “Light Up The Dark” in 2010, of which both garnered critical acclaim and rave reviews. Between 2006 and 2010 they toured nationally
and internationally traveling twice to war zones in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait to entertain the troops, as well as headlining a tour to Italy alongside The Nappy Roots.
In 2011 Rachael took a few years off to start a family. This new chapter in her life was essentially the beginning of the making of her new album, “Honestly.” The process of making this album was unique in that she was now a wife and mother and juggling so many more roles than she had been in the past. “Honestly” is authentic and real, as it speaks about life’s lessons and what she has been through over the past decade. “So much of my life has changed since I began doing music. During the making of this album I went through a time of major self-discovery, learning to listen to God’s voice alone and to trust the vision He’s given me. God told me to be honest, so that’s exactly what I did. There was no game plan, no gimmicks, just me and the music. It took some time, but you can’t rush things that need time to grow. The process of making this record has grown me more than I can put into words. While I thought I was making it, it was really making me.” (Culled from Official Website)