BWW Interviews: Australian Performer Rachael Beck Releases First Solo Album, THIS GIRL
Australian audiences first met this girl when she was just 15 years old. Barely into her teens when she made her stage debut in the original Melbourne production of CATS, Rachael Beck literally grew up in front of us, becoming one of our best-loved stage and television performers along the way.
One of the industry's true triple-threats, Beck went from CATS to starring roles in multiple iconic musicals, including LES MISERABLES, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, CABARET, and BEAUTY & THE BEAST (opposite Hugh Jackman, no less!). Most recently, Beck appeared as Truly Scrumptious in the Australian premiere season of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG.
Off stage, Beck also forged a successful small-screen career, appearing in hit Australian TV shows, including the 80s/90s sitcom Hey Dad!, and the enduring soapie, Home and Away.
Flash-forward a decade or three; with so many successful television and theatre credits to her name, Rachael Beck has now added another achievement to her CV - solo recording artist. This month marked the debut of This Girl, a ten-track album that journeys from Sondheim to Rihanna, right through to Beck's own composition, the closing track, Perfect Day.
This Girl also features duets with celebrated Australian singers Ross Wilson, and David Campbell; if it all sounds an eclectic mix - it is! But Beck ties the songs together with soulful, considered performances throughout. It's not a melancholy album, exactly, but there is a quality to Beck's voice that anchors each song with depth, and maturity. In both song choice and style, This Girl provides a lovely insight into a woman who has been entertaining Australian audiences since she was a teenager.
On the release of This Girl, Beck chatted to BroadwayWorld about the album, and shared what's coming next for this talented, busy performer ...
BWW: The track list of This Girl is certainly eclectic; what do you see as the thread that connects each of these individual songs into a whole?
RB: The production; Chong Lim has arranged the songs so that most of them feature both strings and guitar. I wanted the vocals to be very intimate in every track.
BWW: Are there different creative challenges when approaching a well-covered theatre classic like Send in the Clowns, as compared to a cross-genre pop hit like Only Girl (In the World)?
RB: Yes, definitely. A song [like] Send In the Clowns sits right in my pocket in terms of style. Chong and I worked very hard to find my poppy phrasing and "sit back" on the tempo for Only Girl (In the World). That is why I like Chong; he is a great vocal director as well. That was what I wanted to do - push myself artistically, and sing ways I never had before.
BWW: Your original song Perfect Day has such a wistful prettiness to it; what can you tell me about your song-writing process? Is it harder to give over your own songs to the public?
RB: Ha! Well that song has gone through a number of transformations - it started quite like the song Mr Bojangles. I write with piano, sometimes the poem (lyrics) come to me first, other times the melody and feel comes. I write a lot of music.
I love singing my own creations. I usually do them in my one-person shows.
BWW: This Girl is your first solo album; how different is it to a recording you might have made at the beginning of your career? You were 15 when you started - what has this girl learnt from that girl?
RB: Great question. Big question. Give me a minute ...
There have been a few moments in my life where I was on the brink of recording an album. Pop was beckoning in the early years, then Judy Garland; I think I would have always made an album that was truthful to the way I was experiencing life at that time. But at this age, you have so much more life experience to draw from. It's definitely a much richer album than one I would have made at 15.
BWW: Lastly, what's next for this girl, Rachael Beck? With such an impressive list of career credits to your name - are there any creative challenges you have yet to conquer?
RB: I'm going day by day at the moment; things seem to be flying fast and furious. I have a duets album with David Hobson coming out for Mother's Day. I would like to have a spin on another TV show soon, [and] there are a few musicals I have my eye on.
But one of my main focuses at the moment is that I'm opening a dance/singing /acting school called Studio 101; it will be in the centre of Sydney. I'm doing it with one of my oldest friends, who already has a thriving studio going, and we are joining forces. Look out!!
Rachael Beck's This Girl