On her terms

Rachel Norman on her self-created music career

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Rachel Norman is a senior currently studying “abroad” in the New York City theatre program. She has taken this time off-campus to focus on her individual music career, something that has been evolving throughout her time at Muhlenberg.

As a freshman, Norman came in with the intention of being a musical theatre student and singing in an a cappella group. However, this did not necessarily pan out the way that she had planned. Norman took this is an opportunity to explore her individual career and love for music and to push herself further into the industry she knew she wanted to be a part of. “I was frustrated because I missed singing and wanted more performance opportunities, so instead of relying on other people to make this happen, I decided to do it myself. I’ve always written songs and dreamed of being a singer, but the constant rejection inspired me to finally take my career into my own hands and just do it.” Norman’s career officially began in 2016 when she recorded her first single with Threshold Recording Studios in New York, and since then she has been interning, networking and recording to make sure her music gets as many listens as possible.

The push to start her musical journey was not the only resource Norman gained from Muhlenberg. She raves about the free rehearsal spaces and access to equipment, as well as being close to her friends and alumni who help her along the way. She works substantially with Jason Leonhard ‘18, who co-composes a lot of her pieces, and Mia Shmariahu ‘19, who has shot music videos for her in the past. Muhlenberg students will also be supporting her band on Nov. 30 as part of WMUH’s Red Door Concert Series. Henri Reiss-Navarre, Josh Young, Griffin O’Connor, Luke Blecker and Rae Wessel, all class of 2019, will be accompanying her for this event.

So what’s next for Norman once her time at Muhlenberg comes to an end? In New York this semester, she has been navigating the music industry, figuring out how she can get her career on its feet. “I extensively researched recording studios and familiarized myself with the industry terms associated with production/engineering/recording … I called a lot of people to ask questions about their services and see what was the best fit for me.”

Norman recommends the same for people who are new to the industry. “The more you’re able to do yourself, the less you have to pay other people to do it. I’m also learning that it’s an industry of friends working with friends. Network as much as you can, and be friends with everyone! You never know who can connect you with who.”

Though the amount of publicity her music has gotten has definitely increased, Norman still thinks that getting to share her experiences and feelings through music is the best part. “My songs feel like poetic journal entries. To be able to share that is really special.”

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