Spotlight of the Week: Rachel Haymer

Rachel Haymer is a singer-songwriter and musical healer based in New York. Originally from Hawaii, her latest album “Island Girl Reflections” was released last July. She works with an organization called Tkiya, which helps enrich the youth through music.

ME: To start, how did you get involved with Wisconsin Music Ventures?

RACHEL: That’s a great question; Allison and I connected over the fact that we’re both alcohol free and both musicians, and we were in a workshop on how to be in the media. We talked, and even though I live in New York City, she thought that I’d be a good fit.

ME: That’s great that you could connect with each other in such a way!

ME: I know that you released an album last year called “Island Girl Reflections” and saw that you’re originally from Hawaii. I’d love to hear more about what went into this album and what it means to you.

RACHEL: Absolutely, so I now live in New York City and I’ve been here for ten years. If you look at the album cover, you’ll see that it’s got a reflection…I painted it myself. On the top, there’s the Brooklyn Bridge – which is literally the view that I’m looking at right now – but at the bottom, you’ll see Diamond Head which is a landmark right by where I used to live in Hawaii. Then you’ll see the moon reflected, so it’s the same kind of water and same sky but it represents the journey of me leaving where I was to how I got here. Each of those songs are part of that journey, artistically stated. People ask me often, “what are you doing in Manhattan?” and I tell them that I decided I needed a different kind of island. The whole reason is that I did not fit in in Hawaii; I’m the type of person who wants to be constantly stimulated and extroverted, and New York for that reason is the place for me. Hawaii is beautiful but I felt so isolated, and the pace of life was really slow; for a lot of people, that sounds like paradise.

ME: I can definitely understand where you’re coming from. Good for you being in the perfect place to be always stimulated!

ME: Tell me about Tkiya!

RACHEL: I’m actually getting ready and about to leave for a Tkiya event right after this! It’s basically music for families but focused on the little ones. They’re literally zero to five years old and right at that age where people don’t have actual memories of but have emotional impressions. That’s why I love Tikya, because they’re creating lasting enthusiasm and joy and happiness for these kids which they might not otherwise get. You’re creating the foundation to understand music on any level throughout their lives in a way that’s so important because we get so much community through music. I consider myself both a healer and a musician, and those two things blend together very much for me when it starts before someone can form words. It also happens to be a Jewish organization but we do a lot of secular music as well. We do interactive things with the kids so that they’re always learning while singing and bringing the joy.

ME: Thank you for sharing all that! It sounds like an important organization that invests in the youth with the arts, and that’s very crucial to the development of people so that they know how to be creative and feel comfortable being creative. I went to a Jewish summer camp growing up and we had music class; I remember how fun it could be.

RACHEL: I went to Jewish summer camp too! So many memories that are so awesome!

ME: How hot has it been getting in New York? It got up to the 90’s in Wisconsin this week!

RACHEL: Oh, I’m temperature insensitive (laughs). It doesn’t bother me at all. There’s been some hot days but I missed them because I was at a NAMM convention – the National Association of Music Makers. I was lucky to be sponsored by Enya Music – which is a ukulele company – and they gave me all this gear and now I’m part of their team. I was also two months ago named one of the top five street performers in New York, so that’s dope! I was chosen to be part of the Buskers’ Ball, which is an amazing organization that supports musicians a lot. Anyone who comes to New York to do music should do everything they can to get involved with the buskers’ community because it’s so awesome and supportive. There’s so many unique players and gigantic talents in that scene, but also everyone is very humble and loving at the same time. It’s opened up many opportunities for me! Ahhhhh!

ME: That’s so cool that that’s a thing! That actually leads into my last question – what are your plans for the summer?

RACHEL: I’ve got a lot of busking going on; there’s a new tour company that wants to feature me so I’m going to be doing a lot more of that. This Saturday I’m doing Porch Stomp, the largest folk festival in New York, so I’ll be at Governors Island at the Brooklyn Ukulele Festival stage. I’m doing a special busking at the South Street Sea Port on July 4th and then again on August 1st. I’ll be doing a lot more Tkiya programs as well and some other things coming up that haven’t been announced yet.

ME: Sounds like a stacked summer!

Visit Rachel Haymer’s websites here and here.

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