Rachel Reinert wouldn’t change a minute of her musical journey so far. Taylor Swift was the first artist to believe in her as a former member of Gloriana, and the band saw the world as one of the openers on Swift’s first headlining tour.
“I look back on those days and go, ‘Wow, that doesn’t happen for anybody,’” Reinert tells CMT.com. “It just doesn’t. The fact that we were riding around in a van, to all of a sudden, getting this phone call telling us we were going to open for her in arenas. We were barely a band for maybe a year, and we toured with her for a long time.”
But being in a band means a lot of compromise and sacrifice. After releasing three albums with Gloriana, she felt as if her identity as an artist had gotten away from the aspiring creative she was when she first moved to Nashville at 16 to pursue music. Her last three years have been dedicated to getting back to that naïveté that motivated the California native to pursue her passions in the first place.
“The Rachel then was green and naïve, but also full of dreams,” she says. “I just didn’t care what the odds were of anything, and I was blissfully unaware then getting thrown into this whirlwind situation where I’m in a band, and all of a sudden, I’ve barely played any real shows, and I’m being thrown into an arena stage into this spotlight. I guess that side of me was just learning, trying to always do the right thing and make everybody happy and maybe sacrificing my own happiness in the process.
“Me jumping off from the band was getting back to that part of me.”
Her latest release “Dark Star” has the rising ingénue bravely facing the No. 1 fear that plagues all artists – the unnecessary belief that they’re only as good as their last work. Singing with a gifted voice that’s as clear as day, Reinert performs in the second verse, “I get afraid I’ll be remembered not for the fire but the ember.”
“I wrote that song with Joe Pisapia from Guster and K.S. Rhoads a year and a half ago while I was in the midst of this whole process — hearing some things about myself, hearing that I quit, hearing that I was no longer doing music. It needed to be this reminder to myself that I still have this light within me that people haven’t seen or heard yet.
“The line about, ‘I get afraid I’ll be remembered not for the fire but for the ember,’ is really about this fear that I’ve had as an artist that I’ve followed my heart, and I took this massive jump. I don’t know where it’s going to lead me. I feel like it’s floating out in the atmosphere, and I just hope and pray I don’t get remembered for the things I don’t want to be remembered by like as the girl who left that one band. I hope that I’m remembered for more than that.”
Working with producer Davis Nash, Reinert is honing her sound to embody the colorful California folk that’s intrinsic to the music that came out of Laurel Canyon in the ‘70s. “Cool” and “Dark Star” are the first songs from a full-length album that’s in the works.
“I like to think of it as a mixture of old and new, and I really wanted to get in tune with myself and my roots for this project — just have it be this landscape of ‘70s Laurel Canyon sound but still being contemporary while still living in the country world.
“I’m obsessed with Fleetwood Mac, and I’m obsessed with Stevie Nicks,” she says. “That whole era of music was so amazing, and so anything that taps into that gets me instantly excited — infusing these personal experiences of mine and just being able to finally show people who I really am has been the most important thing for me.”
Her ultimate goal is to inspire others who feel stuck in their place in life to believe in themselves and pursue a future they deserve.
“What matters to me right now is hopefully giving some other people hope for whatever their dreams are — following their heart, being ballsy and taking a big risk. There are no guarantees at the end of the line. But I think what matters is following your heart, being true to yourself, and I would love to be a guiding light in that sense.”