Rachel Beck was a full-time teacher, just dabbling in music with her sister, Amy, when the duo won a chance to sing harmony with Serena Ryder in 2013.
“I was a huge fan, and I remember that moment so well,” says Rachel. “I had never been on stage with a crowd that big before, had never felt that kind of energy before. I just thought, ‘Ohmygosh, this is what I want to do.’”
The sisters performed and recorded together until 2017, when Amy took a step back from the industry. Rachel’s solo career has grown exponentially since that time, in a flurry of adulation and success that propelled her to leave teaching and pursue music full-time.
As a mother of three young children, choosing the life of a touring musician could be intimidating—but Rachel and her partner manage to make it work. “When I’m home from the road, I’m so fully present, fully here,” she says. “When I’m teaching, I come home so exhausted each day, but I feel like when I’m home between touring dates I’m a better, more present mom. And I think it’s good for them to see me going after something I really care about.”
Those stints on the road are critical to Rachel’s success—and her joy. “I just really love touring,” she says. “I love live shows, meeting people, getting to explore the country. I’m super-extroverted and even love music conferences and festivals.”
When live performances stopped for her last spring, she was halfway through a tour promoting her new album Stronger Than You Know. “I had already released a couple singles, and when everything shut down, I decided to just go ahead and release the album,” she says. “It wasn’t the ideal time to be putting out a record, but I felt we should just go for it, put it out into the world.”
The world, it turns out, loved it. Stronger Than You Know was named PEI Recording of the Year in 2021, which Rachel discovered while doing a live Instagram stream for the ECMA. “I was so focused on the job of documenting the different categories,” she says she was shocked. “When they read my name, I almost cursed!”
“It was really exciting, just an incredible honour,” she says of the award.
The past nearly two years at home have been a time to regroup, and Rachel has even headed back to the classroom. But music remains her focus, and she’s been writing and singing when the opportunity arises, including a performance collaboration with Catherine McLellan and Tim Chaisson (of The East Pointers). The project, Salt Water Songs, saw the trio partnering with theatres across Atlantic Canada, doing both in-person and live-streamed shows.
Songwriting is a constant in her life, and Rachel is looking forward to doing some recording in the new year—and eventually getting back out on the road.
“It feels very uncertain but I am hopeful that I'll be able to work back to touring and travelling and seeing people in person again,” says Rachel. “I just love connecting with audiences from stage, then meeting people after the show and hearing their stories”
Keep up with Rachel Beck through her social media accounts (@rachelbeckmusic) and on her website (rachelbeckmusic.com).