Esteemed singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Rachael Sage has recently revealed her most bold, courageous and stunning endeavour to date coming in the form of album ‘Character’. Polly caught up with Rachael to catch her thoughts on her new album, overcoming battles and empowering females in the music industry.
You’re gearing up to releasing your album ‘Character’ very soon. Tell us all about the record for our readers who may not be aware of it.
This is an extremely personal album for me, as I wrote most of it as I was recovering from cancer treatment. I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in 2018, and as a result, I didn’t play music or focus on much more than just being the very best patient I could be. After I had my last chemo, I slowly was able to reflect and write not only about my perspective on what I had been through during that time, but on how I want it has informed my sense of gratitude and determination, as an artist and a human being.
For this album cycle, you’ve released singles ‘Bravery’s On Fire ‘and ‘Character’ along the way. Especially ‘Bravery’s On Fire’ takes a very personal approach, with the lyrics discussing your heart-felt struggle with cancer. Have you found that by releasing this single you have built awareness and even prevention around the disease?
When I was writing ‘Bravery’s On Fire’, it was a very pivotal moment for me because I was able to finally articulate so much of the turmoil and isolation had felt during my own cancer treatment. Once I played it for my co producer, and he was profoundly moved by it, we took great care to make sure the lyrics and message – of finding strength in vulnerability – came through.
Having been able to earmark all proceeds from the song to benefit Women’s Cancer Research was not only gratifying for me in terms of wanting to give back to the hospitals who helped me heal, but in terms of raising awareness. Prevention and early detection are so important with gynecological cancer, so anything I can do to encourage women to get checked, or to fundraise for research, I will continue to do!
Not only does your newest material beautifully tackle the topic of gynecological cancer, but it also speaks out about female empowerment. Have you found that your music has been able to champion fellow females in the music industry? If so how?
From my earliest days as a professional musician, championing other peer female artists has been so imortant to me. I began my career as a member of wonderful women’s music collectives such as UrbanMuse, Indiegrrl and GoGirlsMusic, along with having been mentored by Lilith Fair and Sarah McLachlan’s incredible vision of am all-female, empowered concert tour; so yes, via my record label MPress as well as personal efforts to fundraise for such organizations as Girls Inc. and NEDA (National Eating Disorders Assoc.), along with being an active member of WIM (Women In Music) I have always been happy and eager to support and encourage other women in the industry. I just signed an incredibly talented young woman to my label, Grace Pettis – so it’s exciting to be hearing the next generation of feminist, empowered females do their thing!
Given that it’s currently International Women’s Month in the US and it’s coming up to International Women’s Day, can you name some aspiring females that have inspired yourself, whether that be throughout your career or just on a daily basis?
A few of my heroines would have to include my own sister, Elizabeth – who recently authored an amazing book called ‘Renegade Women’ – about pioneering women in film and TV, and who has been an inspiration to me my whole life because she is compassionate, thoughtful, hardworking and an incredible mother. Some of the other women who have inspired me most throughout my life would include: ballerinas Misty Copeland and Suzanne Farrell, singers/songwriters Carole King, Maria McKee, Marianne Faithfull and Judy Collins, gymnasts Nadia Comenici and Simone Biles, the poet Maya Angelou, Erin Brockovich, and of course, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Finally, you’re coming back to Britain this Spring for a UK tour. For those who may be seeing Rachael Sage live for the first time this year, can you give them some hints about what to expect from your live show?
I always love touring the UK, and am thrilled to be returning with my fabulous violinist Kelly Halloran. We’ll be playing material from the new album ‘Character’, along with songs from across my 13 other albums. Of course, I always try to keep things lively with stories about the songs, a bit of comedy, and even some light flamenco moves.
Listen to Rachael Sage’s ‘Character’ below.