It’s no surprise that at NECM we love championing women in country music, and one of the latest ladies we’re fangirling over is Rachel Wammack. In a few short years Wammack went from the new girl in Nashville to a New Artist to Watch, landing on numerous lists for 2019 including our own. Her self-titled EP, released less than a year ago, features four tracks including her debut single, ‘Damage.’ As a co-writer on each of the tracks, Rachel poured her heart and soul into this project – but there are so many more sides to the singer to get to know. We got to chat with Rachel recently about why she ever doubted a professional career in music, how her artistry has evolved through the years, and what’s next for this talented young lady.
To start at the beginning, Wammack had grown up surrounded by music, but when the Alabama native started piano lessons at the age of six she “hated it.” Her mother insisted she stick with it for four years and by age 10 she had an entirely different perspective. Wammack had been transformed into a true music lover. Inspired by the lyrics and melodies of artists like Adele, Sara Bareilles, and Carrie Underwood, Rachel began her craft of songwriting in middle school and continued to grow as a writer through high school. “In that time, I always wanted to sing – and I was like an attention hog – I always wanted to write but I never thought this will be my career. I thought, whatever I do, I’ll always do this on the side.” Wammack began playing shows at local restaurants in high school when she caught the ear of a Sony Music Nashville executive. He gave Wammack his business card, but at 17 she wasn’t ready to jump into a career in the industry. “I told him I wanted to get a degree, I wanted to have something that no one could take away from me. So I got my degree [at University of North Alabama] but I continued to work on my craft,” Rachel said.
After graduating in 2016, the exec’s business card was still burning a hole in her pocket. Lucky for Rachel, the folks at Sony were still interested in hearing her play. That summer Wammack made the move to Music City but admitted that she still had doubts about doing the music thing full time. “I was like, you know what, there’s no way they’re actually going to be serious about me, I’m just going to do master’s school online while I’m in Nashville.” So Wammack spent her first 6 months in Nashville songwriting, bartending, and taking an online class working towards her Master’s degree. After she completed her first and only course in grad school Wammack knew what she had to do, “‘Rachel, dang it, just believe in yourself!” she said.
As someone who had spent the past decade or so writing solo, Rachel had some apprehensions about sitting down with other songwriters to collaborate. “I always thought if I ever try to do it as a career, I wouldn’t be able to be as creative as I want to be. I didn’t want to have to limit myself to some sort of mainstream thing, you know?” she said, adding the assumption that being a young female wouldn’t work in her favor. “It’s easy when you’re young or when you’re inexperienced to feel like, maybe my ideas aren’t good enough,” she described. But she gives credit to the grad school class she took for preparing her for collaboration. “It taught me just to stick up for myself, know that even though I’m a woman, I’m young, and I’m inexperienced, that my ideas are just as valid as someone who has 20 hits,” she said. “I was really blessed to write with several people who empowered me… One of those people was Mr. Tom Douglas who I wrote my single with.”
Rachel’s single, ‘Damage,’ was written about the stories she heard while working her first job in Nashville as a bartender, and they have one common theme, “love can do some damage.” These were words that held true while she was working on her record. “My EP was very much a therapy project, getting over someone and trying to move forward for the first time in my life from an old relationship.” Now that she’s “over it” she has so much more to share with her fans and the world. “I’m excited to show some other flavors, some party songs, and just other perspectives on life that I’ve developed in the past year or so.” Rachel is feeling so inspired and she’s thrilled to be working on new music this year. After landing on plenty of Artist to Watch lists, our girl is fired up for 2019. “It makes me want to work really hard to just own that and to make my space in country music and in the world,” she proclaimed.
Wammack’s name has also landed on a handful of festival rosters this year, and she can’t wait to hit the stage. “This will be my first time ever playing a festival other than a bluegrass festival way back when I was 10!” she laughed and began listing them off: Tortuga, Country Lake Shake, Faster Horses, and Touchdowns & Tunes. “I’ve just always been a huge fan of live music and going to other people’s shows, so it’s going to be really really special playing my first festivals and getting to play many.” We’ll also get to see Wammack this May as she’s scheduled to stop in New England at the Country 102.5 Street Party in Boston and the Mohegan Sun Wolf Den in Connecticut. “I am coming into 2019 feeling very supported and so I just want to make my fans proud,” she said.
If we’ve learned anything from Wammack’s journey it’s that you can’t stop cream from rising to the top. Despite Rachel’s earlier apprehensions, the songstress has no regrets. “Honestly, I’m glad that it ended up the way it did because it was exactly how it was supposed to be.” Rachel’s success is a testament to her undeniable talent. We can’t wait to hear what’s to come this year and can only hope to hear more of Wammack’s powerful voice streaming through our radio waves.