Rachael Stark
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Rachael Stark

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"The Californian"

The first time Rachael Stark performed at The Merc, it took her a couple of songs to really get comfortable before an audience. But once she settled in, Stark knew that she wanted to perform for the rest of her life.

On Oct. 17, Stark performed her first one-hour show at The Merc, singing such songs as "Independence Day," "I Can't Make You Love Me," "Jesus Take The Wheel," "Wild Horses," "Something To Talk About," and "I Hope You Dance."

"The performance was amazing. I had a lot of family and friends' support so the show was great," Stark said. "By the last song I didn't want to leave. I felt so comfortable performing and it reassured the fact that I want to do this for the rest of my life. The audience was very supportive and seemed to enjoy the show."

Stark graduated from Murrieta Valley High School in 2006 and completed her first two years at the University of California, Santa Barbara where she is in the pre-med program.

"I am taking some time off from school to pursue my dream of becoming a professional country music singer," she said. "It is important in life to take risks and I feel this is the time to take that chance. I am taking all opportunities that come my way and I am determined to make it happen."

Stark was originally inspired to sing by such artists as Celine Dion and Karen Carpenter for their "strong and pure" voices.

"They both have a very beautiful and unique tone, and I was driven to master their technique," she said. "I also admire Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood, and hope to someday be among them in the world of Country music."

Stark has been taking voice lessons since she was 11 and has studied under Carol Cole, Billy Purnell, Jason Brawner, and Seth Riggs.

"I love to perform and take every opportunity given to me. Music runs deeply into both sides of my family and I hope to live up to that legacy," she said.

Aside from her show at The Merc, Stark has also performed at a previous Country at The Merc as well as singing the National Anthem for professional sporting events such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Kings, Nascar, HBO Live Boxing, San Diego Padres, San Diego Polo Club, Los Angeles Riptide, and the Del Mar Racetrack

"I have also competed in the Norco Valley Fair, and performed for the Riverside Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Riverside Mission Inn," Stark said.

Of the many musicians that Stark appreciates, Miranda Lambert's lyrics really stick with her.

"I guess if you don't jump you'll never know if you can fly," read Lambert's lyrics from her song "New Strings."

"This lyric has stuck with me," Stark said. "You must take chances in life in order to pursue your dreams and if you don't take those opportunities as they come to you, you'll never know what might have evolved."

Stark has a real appreciation for classic country music, but also enjoys the new names in country, hoping to meld the two genres into something new.

"I want to re-create oldies and give them a new, fresh sound," she said.

Last week Stark performed two songs at Country at The Merc along with a dozen other local country singers and enthusiasts. This week Stark will share the stage with Kiana Thompson, Alexis Umanthum, Ashley Zavala, Rick Back, Kaitlyn Weathers and Caprice Delingher.

Country at The Merc

When: 7 and 9 p.m. Dec. 21

Where: The Merc, Old Town Temecula Community Theater, 42051 Main St., Temecula

Tickets: $15

Info: (866) 653-8696


"The Californian Again"

Not every artist turns to tragedy and situations in their lives to find inspiration for lyrics. Temecula-based artist Rachael Stark, however, does just that. By putting the various things she has experienced in her own life into her songs, she has written a lyrical autobiography that she shares with her audience during each and every live performance.

"I have realized that you must do things in life that satisfy you and nobody else," Stark said. "I have only recently started writing my own music, and I definitely write songs that are parallel to what I am experiencing in life.

"If you listen to the lyrics of my songs, you'll know exactly what I'm feeling. Just recently I have begun working on a song that reflects all of the emotions and complications that have come about since my decision to postpone UCSB and pursue my singing career ---- it's called 'Taking A Turn,' and describes how I am finally taking my turn in life to follow my dreams."

While Stark has only just come to the conclusion that singing is what she wants to do with her life, it has always been a large part of her existence. Not only was she brought up in a musical household; but almost every member of her family has had a hand in the entertainment industry.

"My mom has always encouraged me to pursue my dreams and always do my best," Stark said. "I watched her perform as a professional cheerleader and pursue her acting career when I was a little girl, and that inspired me to perform. I also have grown up around country music. My grandfather on my mom's side always had his guitar and played some of the greatest country songs while the whole family would listen. His brother also had a No. 1 hit in Georgia in the 1960s. Since I began singing I was also told I had a 'country sound' to my voice, and I've just stuck with it since."

Stark plays Jan. 10 at It's A Grind Coffeehouse in Murrieta. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show is open to all ages. Upcoming shows include Country at The Merc in Temecula on Jan. 17, and Temecula Live! at The Old Town Temecula Theater in Temecula on Jan. 24.

"I have always been supported by my family and friends, but, of course, I have run into people who do not want me to go for my dreams," Stark said. "Some very close to me have put me down and do not support my decision in pursuing my singing career.

"It definitely hurts at first when the ones you thought would be there for you are not, but it truly has given me an even greater desire to make it happen. I strive every single say to make each note, phrase, tone, pitch, lyric, and song perfect. I don't intend to stop until I can share my music with the world. Music is so important to me and has greatly enhanced my life; I hope to inspire and enhance other's lives with my music as well."

Perhaps Stark will have the opportunity to inspire you with her sounds this Saturday night when she performs at It's A Grind Coffeehouse. A show that she feels will take attendants on an emotional journey.

"People can expect some contemporary country as well as some classics," she said. "I love the heart wrenching sounds of ballads, but also I want to get the audience's feet tapping with some upbeat songs. My whole goal is to take people on an emotional journey through each song I perform, and I hope to touch people's hearts with the lyrics. They can also expect some yummy coffee."

Rachael Stark

Where: It's A Grind Coffeehouse, 24520 Village Walk Plaza, Murrieta

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 10

Admission: Free

Info: (951) 677-7750

Listen: myspace.com/rachaelstark

- Erica Sorocco


Still working on that hot first release.



Hi! My name is Rachael Stark. I was born and raised in California, but at heart I'm a country girl. My roots go back to the sticks of Louisiana where my grandfather picked cotton as a child and grew up on his guitar singing country music...his brother also took a love for country and had a 1 hit in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1960s...I guess that's where I get my love for country. I started singing at a young age and I remember my grandfather playing and singing the great country classics as the whole family gathered around...I wish he could see me sing the same songs today, but I'm sure he's watching over us. My middle name is very unique... it's WILDEE. I was named after my great grandmother who was full blooded Native American (which makes me a quarter :)) I have recently began writing my own music...it's amazing how a song can capture so many emotions. If you take a listen, you'll know exactly what was going through my mind...and hopefully relate! I am the typical girl next door with a crazy dream. I am anxious to see what life has to offer.