It's not often that you find a young lady who's barely out of high school and already done the following: Met LeAnn Rimes, covered a Lady Gaga song, taught herself to yodel, and put in a stint at a country-music revue. Oh, yeah, and is about to cut her first album. But--hey, that's exactly what rising singer Rachel Holder has done!
However, let's back up and begin at the beginning. Holder, a bubbly, well-spoken 19-year-old, really did start off as a vocalist--from her earliest moments. "Ever since I could talk, I like to say," she laughs. "I came out singing!" The Chatanooga native explains that she grew up practicing her voice on all sorts of genres, mostly gospel at her church. By 14, she felt confident enough to embarrass her parents--they took her to a Vince Gill concert, and the teen made an unprecendented move. She actually stood up and asked Gill to let her sing with him.
Mom and Dad didn't have to be too red-faced. Gill actually let her, and complimented her on her chops. From that point, the driven Holder took control of her career. At just 15, she began the exercise of booking herself at sporting events around the country--"Anywhere I could sing the National Anthem and get myself in front of a large audience and get my name out there."
She followed this up with a stint at her idol Dolly Parton's Pigeon Forge hometown, performing in a local theater revue called Country Tonite. Holder calls Parton one of the biggest influences on her career, and not just for her music: "She's the biggest entrepreneur in country music right now. And that's what I really respect about her. And also that she's given back to the community."
Clearly, a force such as the young Holder could not be denied, and after making forays into Nashville's music industry crowd, she was introduced to LeAnn Rimes's father Wilbur. Wilbur Rimes was sufficiently impressed by the young singer to call Curb Records head Mike Curb, who wasted no time in signing the rising talent. She's already released a well-received single, "In Your Arms," and her debut full set will be arriving in the near future.
So, that's where Holder met Rimes--LeAnn, that is. True to form, Holder held nothing back when meeting the fellow started-off-young superstar at a Chicago dinner. "I sang 'Blue' 800 times in Pigeon Forge when I was working there," Holder deadpans. "I told her I was sick of that song!"
Rimes took no offense. "She was so nice," Holder says. "She told me what it was like growing up."
The song in question may have irritated Holder at times, but it also had another benefit. "I actually learned how to yodel on 'Blue,'" Holder admits. "I taught myself to yodel around 12 or 13."
OK. So now we know how Holder met LeAnn, learned to yodel, and started herself off in Tennessee theater. However, that still leaves one question: The Gaga cover? Her video for the song became something of a viral sensation, garnering over a million views as of this press date. A country/Christian artist covering Gaga--just not done?
Holder is serious when the subject comes up. Her debut single is, as she calls it, "so open; people can take it any way they want to," and she is dedicated to the idea of being open to all genres. So, her cover is a form of respect to an artist she feels is truly an original.
"She's just so different in the pop world, and so unique in her own style--yeah, she can get a little bit crazy, but I just like that," Holder relates. "I respect that she's different and I respect that she is the outcast on the outside. Let's take an artist that is on the outside--you would never see a country artist cover one of her songs, because she is so different."
Holder and her crew went for it, and the cover and its video took more than 100 hours to create. Holder is nonchalant about her experimentation. "That's what's really cool about my new album, we have all genres, and you never know what's coming next. I like to keep myself open to opportunities," she explains.
But that's not all for the talented singer. She's also enrolled herself in online college courses in order to keep up with the business side of things, and says she'd like to earn an MBA one day. "I started this year. I made the decision during the summer," she explains. "I said you know what, I want to study business and get my masters' degree in business. I sit on the bus all day waiting to do an interview, or go to a show. I have the time to do this. It's not all about singing--you've got to go with the business stuff as well. So I'll get my degree, and if something comes my way, I'll be able to handle it."
Sounds like a smart girl? Well, yes, but also a Renaissance girl! True to someone who has Dolly Parton as an idol, Holder also has yet another career aspiration in her back pocket. She's considered acting as well. "I actually did a Christian based movie, it's called Decisions," she notes. "It's about a troubled teen making his way toward Christ. I play his girlfriend. I have a handful of scenes--it's a starter. If the right opportunity comes along in the future I wouldn't be opposed to it!"
Holder doesn't slow down for very long, but you can keep up with her tour schedule here.