Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Rachel John: More Than A Feeling

Rachel John interview
Rachel John interview Rachel John interview Rachel John interview Rachel John interview

When describing West End star Rachel John’s talent, I would probably describe her, amongst other superlatives, as definitely having the X-factor. In fact, if I really wanted to be accurate, I would probably go on to say that she not only has the X, but pretty much the rest of the alphabet! She’s that good! An artist who could only have been gifted such a rich and distinct voice by a higher power, which is a coincidence this month because John releases her divinely inspired debut album “From My Lips To God’s Ear”, an authentic mix of hymns written by true gospel greats such as Fanny Crosby and Charles Wesley and recorded in one take style, live at the NTA Church in Tooting and delivered in a typically wowing Rachel John way.

I was lucky enough to sit down for an in-depth and often candid chat with the highly-spirited and above all, down-to-earth artist herself at the splendidly ornate and rather fitting setting of the expansive mezzanine at The Winter Garden in The Landmark Hotel in London’s heart, in Marylebone.

But before we dive into the interview, a quick rundown of John’s rise to West End fame and of course, her superpowers! John has been treading the boards for 17-plus-years and has played major roles in musicals such as The Bodyguard, We Will Rock You, Sister Act, The Girl from The North Country and Memphis to name but few. But, it was her stellar performances as - part of the original West End cast - Angelica Schuyler in the worldwide stage phenomenon, Hamilton, that drew not only critical acclaim but also a nomination for an Olivier Award. Now, up-to-date, this artist’s creative touch-paper is well and truly lit and we have lockdown to thank for planting the ‘new project’ seed in the mind of the usually ultra-busy star of the stage who, in my opinion, is now destined to become an incandescent leading-light in the world gospel. On to the interview…

Starting at where it all began, John opens with her parent’s journey to the UK. “When mum came here in 1973. They sent members of her majesties’ government to the Caribbean Islands - my parents are from Trinidad - mum got called into their local hall with all these young girls, they were like “Listen, we will train you. You will be nurses, you’ll be working for Queen & Country because obviously you’re under the Commonwealth and this will be wonderful for you. We will give you somewhere to live, we will train you, you’ll get a salary and you’ll be building this thing called the ‘NHS’. When mum came over she was not permitted to worship in churches and that’s how the black churches started in people’s living rooms, and music came from there”. John now mentions her father, “Dad came and joined her and trained to be an electrician. The general gist, on the island the education system and all the marketings and everything that was going on were about ‘Queen & Country’ and this was called ‘The Motherland’. My mother is so devoted to Queen & Country, even now if anything is going on. She grew up in 1950 with 2 national anthems! You had a British flag in your house, you had a picture of the Queen in your house and a picture of Jesus in our house… and Martin Luther King!

You can read more from B&S Editor Lee Tyler's exclusive interview with West End stage star/Olivier Award nominee, turned essential gospel recording artist, Rachel John, including her family's struggles in the UK after emigrating, the initial impact and later the role the church has played in John's life from childhood to the current day and an obsession that inspired John to pursue a musical theatre career. Plus, more info on her debut gospel must-have album "From My Lips To God’s Ear", along with the artist's hopes for this release and her performing dreams for the future... All in the latest issue of Blues & Soul magazine - click the 'BUY NOW' link below to order straight from the B&S shop or read on for high street retailer details...

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TWITTER: 1RachelJohn

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FACEBOOK rachel.john.739


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