First Look Friday: NYC's Rachel Brown Unplugs + Reboots Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" [Video Premiere + Interview]
Rachel Brown‘s story, like many of NYC’s aspiring singers, songwriters, musicians–and, really, the artistic community at large–begins in dim-lit dives and on sweat-soaked stages. But a diligent work ethic and a penchant for sweet and silky r&b has helped her transcend those typical beginnings and enter a world of recognition that is anything but typical. Perhaps these sentiments are best understood by watching her take on a cover like Whitney Houston‘s ’87 icono-cut “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” where the New York-bred diva (half-Ethiopian, via Bermuda, apparently. Typical New Yorker, in other words) makes light and airy work of an acoustically-driven version. You may think you know this song but Brown’s interpretation strips the chestnut of all nostalgia and ’80s dance-pop conceits to get right to its vulnerable emotional core (watch below–via OKP Premiere.)
We recently got to catch up with the burgeoning young songstress, which paints a picture of humble beginnings and a bright future. Opening up about her influences, both contemporary and classic, the continued relevance of a timeless love song and how a chance encounter with Original Fugee Wyclef Jean made for what seems to be a lifelong connection. Brown also has a new and ambitious record out in The Band, which is making waves on both sides of the pond. So settle in and peep the OKP premiere of her video for a lovely acoustic cover of Houston’s classic below an read through to find where she’s been and where she’s still to go. Grab your copy of Rachel Brown’s The Band EP (which premiered a few days ago via The New Yorker–listen on page 2) on iTunes today and keep your eyes on us for the latest from this compelling new voice in the r&b spectrum in the months ahead.
OKP: Who is Rachel Brown? Please introduce yourself to the nice people… Where did you grow up? First pet? What’s your favorite ice cream?
RB: Born and raised in NYC. My first pet was Swimmy the fish. My second pet was also Swimmy the fish (different fish, same name). Favorite ice cream tends to be Cookies & Cream. More for the cookies than the cream.
OKP: We understand Wyclef Jean is a fan and occasionally comes by to jam at your live shows–can you tell us in your own words how you guys met and what kind of role he’s played in your career?
RB: The first time I met Wyclef was at the Bermuda Music Festival a few years back. We were both performing but on separate nights. That was also the first time I had seen him perform live and I was completely blown away by his dedication to putting on a good show. Over the years we kept on running into each other through various small world coincidences, which eventually evolved into him crashing my shows and me crashing his.
OKP: Who are some of the other musicians, vocalists, artists, writers that are inspiring you today?