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'I make music to speak to people's souls'

SUCCESS STORY: Rachel Kerr has enjoyed a successful career since
appearing on ‘Stars In Their Eyes’ as a 15-year-old

UK-BORN songstress Rachel Kerr is fast becoming a household name among music lovers.

With dulcet tones, Rachel fuses the genres of contemporary R’n’B and gospel, forging a unique standard within the musical sphere. And the world is watching intently, as demand for the Birmingham creative continues to rapidly grow.

This comes over a decade after her appearance on hit ITV1 singing programme ‘Stars in Their Eyes’. The then 15 year-old hopeful appeared as her ‘musical icon’ Aaliyah, becoming the youngest contestant to reach the finals. Rachel has since travelled far and wide, performing for some of the world’s elite including, by personal request, former US president Bill Clinton and ex-prime minister David Cameron. She was also invited to sing the national anthem at the British Basketball finals.

These honours are carried out by the crème de la crème; Rachel is a certified star, one who has dazzled fanatics alongside music icons Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, Lauryn Hill and Brandy, to name a few. Rachel is impressively decorated too; having scooped a Music of Black Origin (MOBO) award, UK Entertainment award, and has been nominated for an Urban Music award. How does it feel to have her innate gift recognised in these monumental ways?

“For me, it really is humbling. When I started out in music, it wasn’t something that was incredibly intentional. I actually came down to London from the West Midlands to do law and was practicing, but God kept opening doors in music,” she says.

“It blew me away because my dad’s a singer and, for the longest time, I was known as Dalton Kerr’s daughter, not a singer in my own right. Which, to be honest, I was very comfortable with.”

RACHEL: "What I’ve learned is that I don’t have to be the best, I just need to make myself available to any invitation”

She adds: “What was really important was making myself available. I think, as musicians and creatives, it’s really easy
sometimes to get in our own heads and say ‘I’m not ready, good enough or I don’t sing like that person’.

“But what I learned quite early on is that I don’t have to be the best, I just need to make myself available to any invitation that comes. In doing that, I realise that the music started to grow and the invitations started to be bigger and more prestigious.


“So, for me, the main thing was understanding that even if it’s not in the plan, if opportunities do come up that allow you to exercise your gift…be ready for them.”

With a view of giving back to aspiring creatives, Rachel founded performing arts academy Singercise in 2012. To date, it has provided vocal coaching to pivotal international talent platforms such as X Factor and The Voice. The Academy has also provided vocal training for international celebrities such as Tiwa Savage, P-Square, Waje and UK girl group Neon Jungle.

It has been entrusted by major UK labels such as Sony RCA to train and coach some of their new talent. Rachel gushed about how well the Academy is doing and how, interestingly, it was born out of a trying time in her life.

“It’s going really well! We now have bases in Nigeria, as well as in London. Again, Singercise came out of a time where I remember, music was going well, but it was starting to be challenging. It just became quite overwhelming for me, as I said it wasn’t something I planned to do.

“I remember my manager saying to me, ‘Rachel, you have so much to give, people know you for your voice – but you love to mentor and motivationally encourage people. So, why not start something like that?’”

Growing up in the church, the principle of helping others was always impressed upon a young Rachel. What’s more, her foster parents demonstrated a necessity to look to assist others.

“Of course, music is great, but it’s important to also be pouring back into people. My parents always taught me that ‘as great as things may be for you – look around. Who can be helped, who can be uplifted?’

“I kind of stopped looking internally and started looking externally. Meaning, look to those who need help.

“Music can be such a selfish endeavour in that it’s about you – your music and your fans.

“I guess that’s okay but, for me, I can’t be my everything. I don’t exist in a world that is just me.”


Rachel was the first UK artist to release a free mixtape in 2016, ‘Unboxed’. Having burst on to the scene in 2010, she was pretty well-established six years down the line, though, of course, still building a reputation for herself. In a climate where creatives can sometimes struggle to translate their talent into revenue, Rachel’s decision to drop a free project, in spite of her profile and developing a paying fan-base, is interesting. Why did she do it?

“I’ve never been motivated by the money which is weird because I understand it is a business,” she says.

“For me, what was really good, was seeing testimonials of people saying things like, ‘I was at a really bad space then I heard ‘I Will Love Me’’, ‘‘Hold My Hand’ was my theme tune during uni’, or even hearing what people say about ‘Alive’. I didn’t want money to be a barrier for people to enjoy the message of the music.

“By the grace of God, I’ve seen so much success through Singercise that money didn’t have to be a driving force. It was like, ‘Okay, music has been good to me, business has been good – let me give back to people and enable them to enjoy the music’.”

Rachel noticed that her fan base started to change from then, when she tapped in a younger and lower income audience.

“I realised that really young people, who may not have had the pocket money to go online and download the album, were able to access the music for free and benefit from the music,” she says. “It’s like the gift that keeps on giving; some of those people then became Singercise students, members of my church.

“When you do things out of love, the finances will come. We need to eat; we live in a society that unfortunately isn’t run off your passion – we understand

“However, I’ve seen a theme in my life where, when the intention is right, the money will come any way.”

Recently returning from America, where she was filming online series ‘The State of R’n’B’ with chanteuse Sevyn Streeter, super songwriter Lashawn Daniel and producer Harmony Samuels, Rachel tells of an “amazing” Stateside experience.

“I’m from Walsall – a really small town in the West Midlands,” she says.

“For a long time, my prayer and vision was to come to a big city like London. God has a way of making your territory bigger than you anticipate.

“So, it’s one thing going to the US, but when people know who you are and they’re inviting you onto these platforms, that I watched as a kid.

“It never entered my mind that I’d be invited there, mingling with these people or even an influential voice on programmes with these people.

“That was amazing because I was sitting on a panel with people who I really respect in music and who have done great, great things.

“LaShawn has written all of my favourite R’n’B tunes, of all time. I was just like, ‘Thank you, you’re amazing’, and he was like, ‘Are you joking? You’re amazing!’

“To be honest, at some times I’ve wondered, ‘Do I belong here? Has there been some kind of mistake?’”


Rachel brought a unique British perspective to the esteemed BET panel. Interestingly, there has long been a debate going on in the UK whereby many opt to eschew R’n’B, in favour of grime, as the more relevant black music of choice. Rachel agrees.

“I wouldn’t say R’n’B or Gospel are in huge demand in the UK. But, for me, I’m okay with that right now because I know we’re building and the tide will change.

“I am believing that the more of an international profile that I’ve been blessed to have, the more I can shed light on the other artists who are here, who are gifted, who are talented, who deserve the platform.

“But it just requires one person to break through.

TAKING HER CHANCE: Rachel is determined to make the most of any opportunities that come her way and is soon embarking on a tour with dates in Europe, North America and Africa


“I’ve been so fortunate in that, very early on, a lot of my invitations were international.

”A lot of what I did was either in the Caribbean, America or Africa; so I never really felt as much of the sting of that, until I spoke to some other artists.

“And, again, I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve got because they told me just how little the opportunities were in the UK. Because, right now R’n’B, isn’t necessarily a championed genre.

“I don’t think that many people are being able to represent UK R’n’B and Gospel on an international scale.

“I’m grateful that I have been given those opportunities but, at the same time, the UK is my home.

“So, whatever the sentiments of the UK artists are, is my sentiment.”

Late last year, Rachel dropped ‘Alive’ – the fiest single from her debut album set for release next year. According to the skilled songwriter, it was inspired by real life and written to uplift people going through challenging situations.

“Over the past three years I’ve really gone through growth,” Rachel explains. “There have been so many different things that I’ve been able to, through the grace of God achieve, but also just see. Travelling the world, seeing different things; I’ve got to the place where I realised that it didn’t come easy.

“That’s the main reason for music, to be honest. I didn’t plan to be a musician. I just thought, ‘If I’m gonna do this, then let me do it in a way that hopefully will speak to people and people can use as their anthems’.

“We have so much music out there that’s great but doesn’t really speak to the soul. I really wanted to occupy that space.”

Ahead of her Africa, Europe and America tour, Rachel is currently working on her debut studio album. After much demand, UK based fans will be pleased to learn that the star will be performing a headline show at the O2 Academy Islington, London, at the end of May.

Alive is out now. For more information, visit or follow @RachelKerrMusic on Twitter

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