Interview by: Lexi Lewis
9th Annual Jazz In The Gardens Music Festival.
Rachelle Ferrell – Organic in Every Way!
This interview was conducted six days prior to Rachelle’s performance at Jazz in The Gardens, Sunlife Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL:
SJM: Rachelle, how are you today?
Rachelle: Just fine and yourself? How are you?
SJM: I’m wonderful. It is such a pleasure to speak with you. Speaking of pleasures, I had the pleasure of seeing you perform on the Capital Jazz Cruise in 2011. It was an absolutely fantastic performance with George Duke on keys playing behind you. With that said, tell me what he meant to you and what your fondest memory is of him.
Rachelle: Let’s see, I don’t think I could really tell you what he meant to me that would be time prohibitive I am sure. I have many memories of him so I will have to take a moment to choose one. George and I have shared many years of friendship and mentoring and feeding music together. Everywhere my mind looks when I look into my treasure vault of my heart, in the area where I keep my George Duke energy, everything I look at or touch upon in my thoughts and feelings is positive energy. I hope that answers your question.
SJM: Good enough.
RACHELLE: Everywhere you look, touch, or think it is something negative. It’s something uncomfortable or something you don’t like or somebody you don’t want to be bothered with. Let me just answer your question and say that it is the exact opposite when I think of George Duke.
SJM: Wow and I am sure many, many people feel that way.
SJM: I went right into “pleasures” and again I had the pleasure of seeing you perform before. Let’s back up just a little bit; I want you to give me the 1-2-3 quick bio on yourself.
RACHELLE: 1-2-3? I was born, I grew, and I got old!
SJM: She’s a singer, musician, and a comedian! (Laughing)
RACHELLE: Well some people think so and other people call me a fool. It depends on your approach. (Laughing)
SJM: That was good Rachelle.
RACHELLE: You know, I just realized that when you get old you get tired of putting on heirs. I figured I would be myself!
SJM: So where did you grow up? (Laughing) Are we going to get through this interview?
RACHELLE: We may not...we may not… The jury is out already! (Laughing)
SJM: Do you really need to take the mic up there? Are you going to start cracking jokes? Is D.L. going to have some competition? (DL Hughley hosting)
RACHELLE: Nah, I don’t compete with anyone. No one can compete with D.L. because that brother is funny. Self-etiquette because you know when you have superlatives and superlatives run out and get in the way and they are inadequate you start cursing so I’m just going to stay that brother is funny!
SJM: Okay, so where did you grow up?
RACHELLE: In Pennsylvania. United States of America! The Northeast, on the east coast of United States of America. The United States once again!
SJM: I’m sorry, Rachelle you are funny! I am sitting here with a tear in my eye because I’m laughing so hard at your delivery.
RACHELLE: What did you expect, Lexi? I don’t know what you expected, Lexi! What did you expect?
SJM: (Laughing hysterically)
RACHELLE: Everybody has expectations whether we are in relationships, doing interviews, or those we see to be artists. What did you expect?
SJM: You are cracking me up! I’m saying you’re a riot!
RACHELLE: That creative energy has to go out and it just can’t show up in music. It has to go somewhere! You know what I’m saying?
SJM: I hear you! Let me compose myself (still laughing)! I read though that you have been singing since the age six or so? Is that correct?
RACHELLE: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t sing. I’ve been singing professionally since I was 12 or 13 years old. I sang at church, in school, at home. I sang to the birds and they sang to me; you know singing was never not a part of my life. It is nothing that I can separate from. You know some people say I began on June 17th at 2:07p.m. I can’t do that. I can’t distinguish/differentiate that in my life when I was not singing.
SJM: Do you come from a family of singers and musicians or are you that “one” in your family?
RACHELLE: I am that one in terms of others that chose to make real money.
SJM: There you go again! (Laughing)
RACHELLE: They get real respect. Artists and musicians don’t get real respect (Laughing) but in that regard, I am that one that made that choice. In another respect, everyone in my family has the ability. I am just the only idiot somebody that has tried to make a living out of it!
SJM: You’ve not gone hungry?
RACHELLE: Not lately…No!
SJM: Not lately!
SJM: But there were times you were on a diet?
RACHELLE: Ya’ll have this perception of who these artists are supposed to be or who Rachelle Ferrell is supposed to be.
SJM: But you can say that there were times when you were on a diet, huh?
RACHELLE: Yes a very strict diet! Paleo, Octo, Lacto, Vegan, - all different food types. Those were all the foods I couldn’t eat because I could not afford it. You’d get a chicken and stretch that thing for two weeks. Ya’ll don’t know nothing about that!
SJM: I do!
RACHELLE: You get a whole chicken in a roaster pan with brown rice, onions, basil, garlic, thyme, oregano and bake that bad boy. You can stretch that for two weeks!
SJM: I know about that!
RACHELLE: You stretch your dollar!
SJM: I know about that as well. I so know about that!
RACHELLE: Artists don’t know about that. That is why we were called starving artists.
SJM: I know we started off talking about George Duke but aside from him what or who inspires you in the music business?
RACHELLE: In the music business? I wish we could change that or can we change that?
SJM: We can change it to whatever you want.
RACHELLE: Okay, sunshine, fresh air, clean water and beauty of all kinds. That inspires me. Laughter and tears, friendships, love, green grass, ocean waves, shells, sand, compassion, dignity poetry, principles, dignity, ethics and morality those things inspire me.
SJM: What has the music business taught you both professionally and personally? Besides the fact that you need to make money. What are some things you’ve learned?
RACHELLE: Lexi, I’ve learned absolutely everything that I know to date courtesy of music and working in the music field/world. Working with artists who play instruments that I cannot play. You know, like with my band specifically. I’ve learned so much through the metaphor of music in the form of a group of people where you depend on their part to make the whole to make it work. You know what I mean?
SJM: Yes I do!
RACHELLE: Whatever your metaphor/passion is wherever a majority of your attention or energy is it can be looked at symbolically to become a metaphor for your entire life. That is the honest to goodness truth! Continue to feed, nourish and cultivate your being it can be if you give it permission to do so.
SJM: You know with everything you said Rachelle you seem like a very calm person and you don’t let things stress you. Am I picking that up correctly?
RACHELLE: Well I’m human and that depends. You know probably as well as I do that humans are not absolute.
RACHELLE: You know what I mean? We are not absolute or the archetypal arrive in physical life manifest in life differently that than the non-physical life or spirit life. In the spirit world being human being means that we are a conglomeration of all and everything that exists. All possibilities included and all potential. It a matter of putting together the things that are most valuable to us. We place and we show up with our values they come out of our mouths, our thoughts, and our hearts. Like you said, “I may call you Rachelle (pronounced Ray-shell) because I have a loved one in my family with that name. So if I slip up and call you that name it is not personal but I love her.” When I heard you say that, it means that she is very special to you; very valuable. You said charge it to my heart if I say your name that way.
SJM: Yes, charge it to my heart.
RACHELLE: Yes, but in a good way! This is what I was saying about music teaching us so much. Music is nothing more than that! Music between chords, between melody and lyrics or your audience.
SJM: Speaking of chords and notes and things like that. Your vocal chords are nothing less than incredible. What kind of vocal training have you had and what do you do to maintain the integrity of your vocal chords?
RACHELLE: Good question! I don’t really get good questions like that! Thank you…Kudos to you!! One of the things I do is to stay hydrated with the best quality and highest quality of water. We lose a lot of moisture on the breath when we sing and speaking as well. Anything that encourages the use of the diaphragm and lungs that means that connections and synergies are being created. A synergy is being created to be able to do this interview with you. When I say that I mean with my heart, spirit, my mind, my body - all the parts of me. I’m not sure if you have heard of the idea that we have many bodies in addition to the physical body.
RACHELLE: All the body of the human being that makes up the human being must come together and work in synergy. In order for that to happen, the body must have what it needs like water, oxygen, nutrition. I can’t remember the number of proteins the body uses is but it is a staggering number!
RACHELLE: So living in my life and my being in my body as an instrument and having to live with a double edged sword of not being able to do what everybody else does and put an instrument in a case in a corner or throw it on their shoulder and keep on going. What it as taught me is that what I do to my instrument, I do to myself and whatever I do to myself I do to my instrument. So I have to live my life with that in mind. To make a long story short, and be as comprehensive as possible, absolutely everything I do affects my instrument so I have to live my life with that in mind and keep that my priority. So it has turned, changed, modified my entire approach to life.
SJM: So, if I were to open your refrigerator right now what would I see?
RACHELLE: You would see Kombucha! Raw Kombucha which is a special tea that is fermented and flavored which becomes a probiotic - which is a good bacteria. We need good bacteria in our systems which we need to beat down and back up off us the bad bacteria.
The bacteria go into the digestive system because the digestive system is ground zero or command central for everything that happens in the body.
Any nutrition we absorb through our food is absorbed through the intestines. If we get ill or contract any imbalance it starts there from the lack of nutrition.
From the lack of nutrition, lack of a certain element or nutrient the body requires to function properly or at the highest level. I had to study that to find out how do I function at my highest level and do so without amphetamines or coffee or alcohol.
The lives we live touring is quite unnatural and quite demanding so I have to deliver and give it what it needs.
SJM: With that said, would it be fair to say you don’t eat candy? Or you do you sometimes indulge?
RACHELLE: Sometimes I indulge! There was a period of time for 15-20 years that I would only eat green moss grown on the grown on the north side of the Himalayan Mountains. You know never eating candy and judging everybody who did eat candy.
SJM: Do you eat M&M’s?
RACHELLE: No…. I’m kind of spoiled. I kind of reminisce of candy I used to eat. I’ve traveled all over the world and I prefer Spring Leaf Chocolate from Switzerland.
SJM: Yeah, you’re spoiled! You’ve got such a dynamic and wonderful personality. I’ve got to know what kind of performance the fans at Jazz in the Gardens can expect from you this year?
RACHELLE: Absolutely anything! I can’t tell you what it is going to be myself. I can say it will be good and high quality. I’ve been looking forwarding to this. I was sick last year so I have some stuff to make up for. I am coming with a vengeance. (Laughing)
SJM: You’re coming back!
RACHELLE: Yes, absolutely. I promised that I would. God, the Lord Jesus saw fit to let me live another year and come and redeem myself before the Jazz in the Gardens listeners.
SJM: That is a blessing in itself!
RACHELLE: Absolutely! You know I got to put my foot in it!
SJM: You’ve got to put two feet in it girl!
RACHELLE: (Laughing) One is for gratitude and one is to make up for last year.
SJM: There you go!! Now I have to ask this, when do you have another cd coming out?
RACHELLE: Hopefully this year it is called the Art and Soul of Rachelle Ferrell. I am about three quarters of the way done. It is coming along really nicely and I am excited about it and I am hoping to finish this year at some point!
SJM: She is putting two feet in it at Jazz in the Gardens! Rachelle, we can’t wait to see you perform. I can vouch she is a stellar performer! She will give her all with two feet in it!
RACHELLE: Two feet and do my little gig and dive in it with a swerve okay!?
SJM: See you at Jazz in the Gardens!!!
Rachelle Ferrell website HERE: