Rachelle Lynn
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Rachelle Lynn

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada | SELF

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada | SELF
Band Pop


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"An Evening of Jazz at the Oswego Hotel"

It was a night of smooth sounds and great company at the Oswego Hotel in James Bay on January 19th. The great Rachelle Lynn, who has opened for the likes of Nelly Furtado at Rogers Arena, warmed up the room with her melodious voice and piano playing.
The Oswego Hotel offers weekly shows that are free to attend and always a good time for any music lover. Top that off with some great wine specials and you've got a regular Wednesday night date! - Snap Victoria

"Hanging with Nelly the start of something to sing about"

Rachelle Gislason, 21, expected an audience of about 40 people at her regular spot at D'Arcy's Pub in Victoria. Instead, she sang to more than 6,000 at Vancouver's GM Place on Thursday night.

Gislason's unexpected adventure began when she visited Nelly Furtado backstage after Furtado's performance at Victoria's Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on Wednesday. She was lucky even to get backstage. All backstage passes had been cancelled to make room for Furtado's family.

All backstage passes, that is, but Gislason's.

What makes her so special? She won a high school contest to open for Furtado when the star performed in Victoria six years ago.

In the intervening years, Furtado and Gislason exchanged about 25 e-mails, in which Furtado encouraged Gislason to pursue a music career.

When she learned Furtado would perform this month, she contacted Furtado's mother, who said the star wanted to see her after the performance.

But when Gislason showed up backstage, security wouldn't let her through.

She insisted if they told Nelly she was there, Nelly would welcome her in. And she did.

She and Furtado "hung out" for about 30 minutes -- excitement enough for the aspiring songstress whose day jobs include working part-time in retail, piano instruction and voice lessons.

But then Furtado let the bomb drop.

She asked Gislason to open for her show in Vancouver.

Gislason turned to her mother, April Gislason, and said, "What did she just say?"

She says Furtado laughed and said: "You don't believe me, do you?"

Less than 24 hours later, she was on stage in front of thousands of people, singing her own world-style music. Furtado watched her opening number, Waterfall.

"The energy was crazy," says Gislason, who got to see her name lit on the billboard and her image flashed on the giant screen at the rear of the stage. "When the lights went out and people started screaming, I really felt in the zone. I felt very alive."

After it was all over, Furtado came up to Gislason, singing Gislason's music.

"We're homegirls," says Gislason. "It's nice to see that even when (Furtado) gets to a certain position, she's giving back to the arts."

- Joanne Hatherly, Times Colonist-March 24, 2007

"Victoria Musician Coming Into Her Own"

After years of musical exploration and confidence-building, Rachelle Lynn Gislason is finally ready.

Ready to embark on a career as a singer-songwriter. Ready to take the plunge with her first full-length album. And, more importantly, ready to let the pieces fall where they may.

The realization that she could make music for a living first entered her mind when was just 15. Gislason, then a student at Oak Bay High School, won a contest in 2001 that gave her the golden opportunity to open for Nelly Furtado, who at the time was just beginning her ascension to the top of the pops.

Furtado's opening act couldn't make the McPherson Playhouse date, so a contest was arranged that opened the door for a local act to perform. Gislason, who sings and plays piano, beat more than 40 entries for the honour, and received a standing ovation for her in-concert efforts.

The reaction was definitely an idea-starter for Gislason. Afterward, she was caught by the concept that a career could, in fact, be possible.

"That was a milestone," said Gislason, who recently turned 25. "It really jump-started my career. I felt pretty motivated, after opening for Nelly, and very inspired and encouraged. Winning that contest and getting her support, I decided I really could do this."

The McPherson performance was captured on Gislason's debut EP, Four Songs, which was released in 2001. Back then, Gislason remembers, she wasn't bursting with confidence, especially when it came to the pop field; in fact, she never would have entered the contest if her friends hadn't urged her on. But the response to her gig was overwhelming.

Her family and friends have always been supportive. Gislason's mother, April, is her vocal coach, while her father, Grant, and brother, Bryan, both play in her band. But hearing positive feedback from her peers when she was 15 was what set her upon her current path.

"That restored my dream. It solidified it."

Unbelievably, she was asked to open for Furtado a second time, in 2007, at a concert at the former GM Place in Vancouver.

The timing of her second golden opportunity was perfect. Gislason had matured, both as a person and artist, and was better prepared for the experience, having done plenty of gigs (and two trips overseas) with the Vic High R&B Band, in addition to performing in 2004 before tens of thousands of people at a festival in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Pop music caught her off-guard, to a degree.

A former student of jazz giant George Essihos, she had always envisioned a career writing instrumentals or film scores. When she was a teenager, Gislason considered herself a balladeer, one with a fondness for singing jazz standards. Though she is heading into the pop field, she still sings and plays jazz, with regular solo gigs at O Bistro and Lounge, in the Oswego Hotel.

Gislason next performs there on Dec. 29, one of many things on her plate at the moment. She teaches piano and voice full-time, both privately and at Peninsula Academy of Music Arts. Gislason also has her full-length debut prepped for release Saturday night at the Black Stilt Coffee Lounge on Hillside Avenue.

For the recording, and all concerts to support it, she performs under the moniker Rachelle Lynn.

The recording, Green Lights, is her first foray into the big-sound, full-band world of pop and rock. (Bassist Steven Taddei rounds out her backing band.) Produced by her father at the Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, which is owned by Bryan Adams, the record is a culmination of a journey for Gislason, whose new record collects songs she has written over a 10-year period.

"It was kind of like a journal of my life unfolding. . . . Once I went through them all, after we recorded them, I noticed there was a common thread that seemed to wrap up the title Green Lights — digging deep and pursuing your dreams. The green lights represented feedback in my life that were showing up to keep my eyes on the goal and my dreams and push forward."

It has been quite the journey, Gislason said.

She started playing the piano at age four, and by the time she was nine she knew she wanted to pursue music as a career.

She still remembers the death of a close family friend, which inspired her first original song, I Heard a Cry, as the moment everything changed.

She came across the original lyric sheet recently. Though the tune is 16 years old, she can recall what it felt like scribbling down lyrics as a nine-year-old. "I remember that moment of certainty," she said.

That sense of accomplishment has stayed with her, and is one she hopes to keep with her as she travels a new path.

- Times Colonist

"Victoria teen helps Icelanders celebrate"

Victoria teen helps Icelanders celebrate
Victoria Times Colonist - Go! Arts
Thursday June 17, 2004

A Victoria teen who once opened for pop star Nelly Furtado is slated to play today at a huge national day festival in Iceland. Pianist-Vocalist Rachelle Gislason, 18, will perform three or four of her original compositions for Nation Day celebrations in downtown Reykjavik, said her mother, April Gislason. She will also play for a separate concert at Reykjavik's city hall the same day.

April said an audience of 40,000 is expected for the main-stage celebrations. The national Day festivities mark Iceland's establishment as an independent republic 60 years ago.

"This is big, so much excitement," she said. At an earlier concert, the Oak Bay High School graduate performed her song, Atlantis, for a delegation that included Olafur Ragner Grimsson, the President of Iceland.

Rachelle Gislason is visiting Iceland for six weeks as a participant in Iceland's Snorri program. The program provides an opportunity for 15 young people of Icelandic origin living the Canada and the U.S. to discover the country and culture of their ancestors.

The Icelanders learned of Rachel's musical talents from her resume submitted for the Snorri program.

Her first claim to fame came in April 2001, when she opened for Nelly Furtado at the McPherson playhouse. Rachelle was selected for the honor from 50 contestants.

- Victoria Times Colonist - Go! Arts

"Budding Songstress Still Soaring in the Clouds"

Saturday April 21, 2001

By Adrian Chamberlain

Imagine. You're a 15 year old. Your dream is to be famous musician. And then the phone rings, and you're asked to open for pop star Nelly Furtado. Sounds like the teen fantasy of any aspiring singer/songwriter. But for Rachelle Gislason, it actually came true.

This week she won a radio contest. The prize: being the warm-up act for Furtado's concert last Tuesday at the McPherson Play-house. Wow, Furtado, who's just 22 years old herself, is one of the most incendiary new acts on the Canadian music scene. She's scooping up Juno's, sharing the stage with rock gods U2 and being touted in all the big magazines and TV shows.

The native Victorian decided to give someone else a break when it transpired the opening act for her Canadian tour couldn't make the Victoria date. She personally listened to about 50 recordings submitted for the contest, and selected Rachelle as the most talented.

What struck me most about Rachelle's performance was the courage she showed. When I was 15, I certainly didn't have what it takes (quite aside from a lamentable lack of talent) to open for a pop star in an 800-seat theatre. The closest I got was dancing in front of the mirror with a hair-brush microphone while playing T-REX or Rolling Stones records. Rachelle was obviously nervous, yet she overcame this by confessing her stage jitters "wow, this is a really big audience!" and winning them over with the warmth and genuiness of her personality. This is no small thing, especially for a teenager who has performed for mostly living room crowds until now.

Accompanying herself on electric piano, she played a handful of self-penned tunes, and a cover of Somewhere over the Rainbow. Her nervousness caused some wobbles, yet her raw talent was clearly apparent. Rachelle had the moxie to improvise part of a tune she hadn't quite completed, Carefree. She even got the audience to sing along. They may have come to see Furtado, yet they cheered and gave her a standing ovation.

Interviewed at her parents old arts-and-crafts style home near the Royal Jubilee Hospital, Rachelle said she was electrified when Furtado's management company phoned to say she'd won the contest. She got the news the day before the concert- she'd assumed someone else had gotten the slot.

"I was just sitting all relaxed and I got the phone call. I was, like, you're joking me. I was ecstatic and my heart was pumping. I couldn't believe it that I won. I was just overwhelmed with emotions. I started to cry."

Rachelle is an exuberant teen who'd waltzed into the kitchen after school and hungrily wolfed down a snack. Her parents both have backgrounds as professional musicians. Her dad, who now runs a hot-tub company, once played guitar for Sweeney Todd when Bryan Adams was a member. Her mom, April, is a noted Victoria singer who was lead vocalist for the Sample-Stearns Band in the '70s, and still performs regularly at Bartholomews.

Several days after the concert, Rachelle was still soaring in the clouds. The night before the gig, she hadn't been able to sleep. She took the afternoon of the concert off from school to rest and practice.

Furtado's management originally requested a one-hour set. Rachelle has written plenty of songs, but most are instrumentals. She had only three original songs with lyrics she felt comfortable performing. The Furtado camp said that was OK.

The scariest part, says Rachelle, was being told by stagehands how many minutes were left as she waited to go on. "Emotions going like crazy, anxious and nervousness," is how she describes it. "Kind of nauseous, like you don't know if you're going to do it."

She certainly did. Furtado was encouraging both before and after Rachelle's performance, later singing her praises on CBC Radio. The pair had hit it off during the 4pm sound check for the concert. Afterwards, Furtado gave Rachelle her e-mail address and promised to keep in touch.

Rachelle's one of those busy kids who's involved in a lot of things. She's on the rowing team, and takes part in plays at her church. She wants to be a professional singer/songwriter more than ever now. That's fine with her parents, too. "I think (it's OK) if you stay focused and you've got your roots in the right place and you've got the support of the family," said April.

Helping a fledgling musician like Rachelle was a classy move on the part of Furtado, who's doubtlessly swept up with the demands of her own whirlwind career. The biggest impression the concert made on me was the passion and energy these two young women put into their music. Afterwards, I drove down the street to catch part of blues legend Johnny Winter's set at a local club. Sadly, he was in rough shape- playing poorly and seeming terribly feeble (perhaps still recovering from a recent hip injury.) Despite the beer-bottle salutes from faithful fans, Winter seemed like a setting sun. Show-biz isn't always kind to its latter-day stars.

The flip side is Rachelle Gislason, who may well be embarking on a wonderful career in music with a little help from her friends. She says: "I'd like to follow in Nelly's footsteps in some ways".
- Victoria Times Colonist


Released her first full length album of originals, "Green Lights"
in December 2010.

Released an EP in 2001, "Live @ the Mac!".
It includes three originals and a cover of "Over the Rainbow". It received airplay on CBC radio.



Rachelle Lynn's professional career has been on the rise ever since opening for international superstar Nelly Furtado April 2001 at just 15yrs old. Furtado personally handpicked Rachelle to perform at the McPherson Theatre in their hometown Victoria, BC. Rachelle’s transparency and down-to-earth demeanour won over the audience. The overwhelming applause and standing ovation gave her the courage and affirmation to pursue her musical aspirations and she set a personal goal to one day record her own cd of all original songs.

Since opening for Furtado, Rachelle continued to write prolifically and developed a unique sound that is unmistakably her own. In June 2004, Rachelle performed at an outdoor concert before an audience of tens of thousands in Reykjavik, Iceland. While there, she was filmed for an Icelandic documentary, received radio play and performed an original pop classical piece (Atlantis) for then President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson at his home.

Rachelle has maintained a mentoring friendship with Furtado throughout the years and in 2007 she asked Rachelle to open for her at GM Place for her “Loose” tour. She gave an outstanding solo performance accompanying herself with her keyboard and received a thunderous applause from the audience.

In summer 2008, Rachelle embarked on her longtime goal to record her first full-length album of original songs. She recorded her cd, “Green Lights”, with her band at Bryan Adam’s world-class recording studio, The Warehouse and had it mastered by Grammy award winning mastering engineer, Adam Ayan (Madonna, the Rolling Stones, Carrie Underwood etc.) at Gateway Mastering in Portland, Maine.