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Music Director Rachel A. Kaufman Plays With Singers & Musicians From All Seven Continents

Carter strummed his guitar and beautifully sang John Prine's "You Got Gold" while Rachel cooly accompanied him on the harmonica.

Music Director Rachel A. Kaufman Plays With Singers & Musicians From All Seven Continents

New York City musician accomplishes an artistic best during the Covid Quarantine by performing with over 100 people, mostly remotely; a cast of friends and former students on all seven continents, concluding with Carter Jones at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

Artists improvise moment-by-moment in every aspect of their creative work: It's part of the job. So what happens when the job-and the entire industry itself-comes to a record scratching halt?

Improvise. Explore. Get creative. Artists are often at their bests when they are faced with unusual ways to create and multi-instrumentalist Rachel A. Kaufman was no exception. She found a clever way to keep us singing together even though we were far-very far!-apart.

On July 17, 2021, after having filmed over 200 mostly remote duets she dubbed "CoVideos," Rachel, seated at her piano in Brooklyn filmed number 201 with Carter Jones, coming to her from the McMurdo Research Station on Ross Island in Antarctica. Carter strummed his guitar and beautifully sang John Prine's "You Got Gold" while Rachel cooly accompanied him on the harmonica. You can view the whole show, right here:

"There were two times that I got a bit emotional while making these CoVideos: the first was at the end of filming the landmark 200th CoVideo-I thought that was going to be my very last one. The other was while introducing Carter Jones, a singer, bass, and guitar player working as a technician in Antarctica at the time, because he helped me reach my goal of doing these CoVideos with people on all seven continents."

In March of 2020, when the Coronavirus had officially reached our shores it shut down multiple industries that could not go remote-live theatre first among them. Rachel had managed to hold onto a few remaining gigs that did manage to navigate not being able to rehearse in person, one such job was playing for an Audition Technique class for New York Film Academy's Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre. Those classes had instantly gone remote, as such, Rachel purchased an iPad in order to download sheet music and record tracks for her students to sing along with. While she continued doing this for her students, Rachel realized that if she were to place the iPad on one end of the piano & her iPhone on the other, she could potentially accompany friends from anywhere in the world.

And she did.

Rachel's inaugural CoVideo began right here in our hub of the world, New York City, doing "Look to the Rainbow" with her father, Albert Kaufman. By number three, she was connected to Europe with Hiram Johnson in Germany, singing "Fly Me To The Moon."

Step aside, Coronavirus...it is art that has now gone global!

Rachel posted these performances every morning on Facebook and developed quite a following. Her viewers didn't hesitate to express the joy they got from watching these unique, fun collaborations and, likewise, their curiosity about the process. Many viewers asked her "How are you keeping things in sync with the people you're accompanying? Are you using a certain app or special equipment?" Her answer was "Nope...it's a magic trick. Each remote singer would get their pitch from me in an intro and from there I'd ask each of them to not listen to me and simply keep time on their end." As an accompanist, Rachel is accustomed to following singers, and so she did the same in these CoVideos-only remotely. She also purposely chose people she knew could handle this slightly awkward and challenging set-up, and also had everyone sing uplifting or fun songs-an energy that we all needed during this difficult time.

This pandemic redefined being downhearted for much of humanity and our lack of connection to one another. For Rachel, this project redefined all that is uplifting about our connections, even though we couldn't be together in person at this time. These CoVideos reconnected Rachel with so many friends and former students-more than 100 people from all over the world. Through these live recordings, all involved learned how each other was navigating life, as a human and an artist unable to work normally during this unprecedented time. This project gave everyone a chance to feel somewhat normal again by collaborating with other artists, an endeavor usually done in person.

Rachel states: "After I completed a CoVideo with a friend in Australia, that checked off six of the seven continents-I was only missing Antarctica and I was determined to find someone. As part of my mission, I joined just about every Antarctica-related group on Facebook & sent messages to them regarding my project and what I was looking for. I also sent emails to numerous research stations in Antarctica. In addition, I posted on Facebook that I was looking for someone in Antarctica with whom I could record one of these duets. Months went by, and by the time I reached my landmark goal of number 200, I had mostly resigned myself to not being able to find someone there, and I was okay with that...but I didn't completely lose hope. And then Kristen Booth came along!"

Kristen Booth, an artist and solutions-based consultant with her own company in New York City, Produced By Booth, responded. "I'd been following-and singing!-along with Rachel's CoVideos for much of 2020 and saw she needed some help. I decided to give it a go and after some due diligence, I found Keri Nelson, who has this impressive online resume of work in Antarctica for well over ten years." Kristen put Keri and Rachel in touch, notifying them both of the goal, and then, quite honestly she had forgotten about it. Until she woke up to the musical Facebook post months later.

"I had no idea how much effort Rachel had truly gone to in order to accomplish this goal or that Keri had actually responded. Keri herself was no longer 'on the ice' by the time she replied to Rachel; however, she had a musician friend who, indeed, still was: Carter Jones." Kristen knew it was special: "I was so excited by this news and everything about it; how it all came to fruition. I held my breath for a moment at the start of their song, then grew more and more excited by the performance, especially witnessing how emotional Rachel was. This lovely song and this show was very welcome happy news to wake-up to after a long year in this pandemic. I was so impressed."

Rachel A. Kaufman created over 200 live performances accompanying over 100 musicians and singers in 19 countries including Ilda Mason (West Side Story Broadway Revival & Film); Wysandria Woolsey (Original Cast member of Chess, Parade, Beauty & The Beast); Irma Flores (currently playing Jasmine in Aladdin in Mexico); CorBen Williams; a husband and wife team of Christopher Sutton & Lyn Philistine; Cynthia Shaw; Lisa Ann Wright; Mark Aaron James Katryna Marttala; Lawrence Rush; Adam Barruch; Richard Skipper; Shelly Watson; Tym Moss;Barbra Herr; and Laura Daniel Koch. Rachel has kept a detailed list of every artist she collaborated with including their locations, date, and song choice.

Rachel's "CoVideo" series spanned from March to October of 2020, becoming a library of over 200 CoVideos with performances from North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, Antarctica, as well as with a cruise ship musician friend who was quarantined on board for months. In December of 2020, she rebooted the CoVideo Series recording 28 English and International Holiday versions, including songs in Italian, Spanish, Icelandic, Estonian, Japanese, Yiddish, Hebrew, and Javanese.

Rachel A. Kaufman is a seasoned Music Director, Accompanist, Pit Musician, and Composer who has played for and music directed well over 300 musicals and cabaret shows world-wide. She has also worked with such Broadway greats as Donna McKechnie, Baayork Lee, Savion Glover, and Donna Murphy, just to name a few. Rachel holds a B.A. in Music (and Russian!) from the University of Chicago. Find her on Instagram at @rkaufman.md. You can also view some of Rachel's CoVideos on her YouTube channel, Radini7, as well as if you search for the hashtag #covidwithradini on Facebook.



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