A star emerging from Washburn

Washburn student Rachel Louise Taylor is an artist on the rise. Read on to find out more about her start as a singer/songwriter, and where she is headed in the future.

Rachel Louise Taylor is a junior at Washburn University, majoring in business management. Rachel started playing guitar at just 7 years old. She comes from a musical background: her uncle is in a band, her dad is in a jazz band, her mom was in band and her grandma was an organist. It’s no surprise that she followed in her family’s footsteps. She especially draws inspiration from a particular member of her musical family.

 “In the beginning, it was mostly just my uncle, he was a lead guitar player in a band in Wichita, and that was really it.”

Rachel was going to take guitar lessons from a man named Andy McKee, who is now a fingerstyle guitar player in Europe. The man who actually gave lessons to Rachel was McKee’s roommate from college. She expressed that her guitar teacher inspired her because he started out his career on YouTube.

Many people get stage fright prior to performances. Rachel does tend to get more nervous when she performs for people she knows. 

“Mostly for audiences, if I know the people, so I actually played here [Washburn], a year ago I think, and so if I know the people in the crowd, or if I know I’m going to see them again, then I’ll usually get more nervous, because they might potentially judge me.”

However, Rachel does have ways of calming her nerves when she’s preparing for a performance.

“I like bringing friends with me to gigs because they will distract me, and I get distracted really easily, so distractions really help a lot, and sometimes I’ll even just read before a gig.”

Rachel does think about her singing career as a job already. She maintains her focus while she’s performing, and she celebrates her successes once she’s off stage. Between studying for school and singing, she practices her writing and guitar-playing. She spends about half of her week focusing on school, and she spends the other half focusing on her music. Rachel also gives guitar lessons, which helps her refine her own skills as well as other’s.

She writes all her own music based on her own experiences, as well as ideas that she gets from other artists. Rachel believes that it is a lot easier to write a song from her own experiences than by making up experiences. However, she says that her hardest challenge with school and music is having a social life.

“I’m basically still friends with the two friends that I’ve been friends with in high school, I’ll meet people in class, but things like that, but I’ve never really hung out with anybody outside of class, just because on the weekends I’m gigging, and during the week I’m either teaching or I’m practicing.”

Rachel has one album and two singles, and her favorite song that she’s written is titled “Drive by Town”. This song also has a small hidden meaning. She says the song is meant to give the feeling of not being forgotten, even if you are from Topeka, Kansas. This song took her six months to write, when it usually takes her a month to write a new song.

Advice she would like to give to other aspiring artists is “Don’t stop. I started this when I was 7 and I’m 20 now. I honestly didn’t know where I would be a year ago, so you never know what you’re capable of, unless you just keep going. It takes a lot of dedication and focus.”

Her favorite venue to sing in was when she sang the national anthem for a hockey game, since she loves the sport and the atmosphere. Another spot she loves to play at is at the Classic Bean, since it gives a hometown feeling and venue.

Rachel’s music is country, similar in style to the Dixie Chicks. She was doing more pop country but is trying to stay away from it. She would label her music as modern Dixie Chicks, like the current music group, Runaway June.

Rachel performed at the Kansas State Fair Wednesday September 12, 2018 on two different stages. She had to email the state fair to perform. She explains how gigs do not come to the artist, the artist must go out and book gigs.

“I’ve realized in high school I thought that gigs came to you and I wasted about four years trying to wait on gigs, and I’m like you know what, if I want something you have to go for it, and that’s how it was with [Country] Stampede and all the other festivals I’ve gotten.”

Rachel has an upcoming show Sept. 29 in Oklahoma, where she will open for band that she’s performed with several times. She also has a gig at noon Oct. 7, 2018, where she will play at Old Prairie Town, Topeka, Kansas. Last year, Rachel won performer of the year at this venue. 

With all her gigs, she has met a couple of famous singers, including William Michael Morgan and Runaway June. Rachel’s goal is to open up for other artists and progress from there. Perhaps we will see even bigger performances from Rachel in the future.