Q&A: A singer who's at home on stage
Rebecca-Anna is a 20-year-old singer-songwriter who grew up in Barnard Castle. She’s been writing her own songs since the tender age of eight, arranging and recording since 11 and all of her music is written and produced locally. She’s performed alongside the likes of New-York singer-songwriter Ben Arthur at Club Cotherstone and Dean Owens at the Mickleton R&B Club. She’s also performed at the Sage, in Gateshead, to top industry professionals and appeared on local radio. Here, she sits down to tackle this week’s Q&A.
Where does your love of music come from – are you from a musical family?
I’ve had a deep affinity with music, for as long as I can remember.
I was dancing along to Britney Spears whilst I was still in nappies.
I grew up in a very musical family, and as a result, I’ve been constantly surrounded by musical people.
My Dad plays the guitar, my brother’s a drummer and I have cousins who are very talented on the piano, so music has always been a constant part of my life.
What was the first instrument you learned to play – did it come naturally to you?
My mum and dad started me on the piano at seven, and I have to be truthful – practising was hard at times.
At the start, I struggled with the theory quite a bit, but I thrived when playing pieces.
I did have a habit of wanting to create my own interpretation of them, rather than following the sheet music, so it was clear that I had a strong creative streak, even from such a young age.
What’s the attraction of the guitar?
It’s relatively easy to learn and I’ve also always loved the idea of being able to accompany myself.
I enjoy the range of styles and techniques you can explore on the guitar; It’s quite different from the piano.
The guitar also helps me to develop more rhythmic ideas when I’m composing.
Most of the artists I take inspiration from also play the guitar, so for me, it’s a mixture of exploring my creative process and projecting what inspires me.
Was there one specific moment or event that made you decide music was for you or was it a more gradual realisation that this was something you wished to pursue?
I’ve always known that I wanted to be a performer from a young age, from acting and dancing in my school years.
It’s always been vital for me to explore my creative side in all sorts of ways; I always knew performing would be the right path for me.
What sort of music inspires/influences you?
My biggest influences are Ed Sheeran, Nina Nesbitt, James Arthur, and Paolo Nutini, but if I were to write out all the artists I take creative inspiration from, I would fill a book.
Musically I have an incredibly eclectic pallet and listen to nearly every genre available, so it’s difficult to try to narrow down my influences.
How would you describe your sound?
My songs and sound are varied as I’m often acoustic, natural, and folky at times. Some of my songs are more modern and pop–based.
I get the sense of “home” whenever I hear any of my songs; to me, my music sounds like Teesdale, which I hope is what others experience too.
I do have plans to branch out and delve much deeper into new and different sounds than the ones I’m used to – I’m eager to weave more of them into my own work to showcase what inspires me.
Can you recall your first gig? How did it go?
Like it was yesterday! There was a showcase being held at The Hub in Barnard Castle, and Andy Yeadon, the musical director, asked me if I wanted to perform a song we’d been working on.
Truth be told, I was petrified, as it would be the first time I’d ever presented my own work to an audience.
I remember shaking like a leaf before I went on, but as soon as I started singing, everyone seemed to fade away; it felt like I was singing to an empty room, and I felt incredible.
I got a huge round of applause afterward and I walked off feeling more elated than I’d ever felt before. It was a great first gig.
How about your first time in a studio?
When I was 11, my dad took me to look around The Hub when it first opened. We walked past the practice rooms with all the soundproofing. I saw all these instruments and pieces of equipment and my heart leapt. I was so in awe of it all – I was literally like a kid in a candy shop.
Working in a studio is a process that strengthens over time and with experience, but I was naturally comfortable in that environment from the beginning.
The Hub is such a great facility for people to have access to and it contributed massively to my development as a musician and performer. I owe that place an awful lot.
Do you find it easy to get up on stage and perform in front of people?
Yes, I really do. Being on stage and performing has always felt like home to me, mainly because I’ve been performing in front of people since I was young.
When I was younger, I did experience stage fright and anxiety, but as soon as I stepped on stage those nerves instantly disappeared.
When I’m on stage, I just come alive and I love entertaining people with my music and my stories. It’s a joy to see people enjoying themselves, and I really love being a part of that experience.
You’re currently studying a music course at college – what does it entail and how’s it going?
I’m currently in the second year of my foundation degree and I’m specialising in Roots and Popular Music.
We look at all sorts of topics regarding pursuing a career in the music industry.
We delve into the social side of music and look at how we can develop ourselves professionally. We look at work-related learning, putting music theory into practice, and we also put on and organise two major music shows ourselves.
It’s going amazingly, and I absolutely love what I’m doing.
The course is the perfect fit for me and New College Durham is an incredible facility. I would highly recommend it to any aspiring musicians/performers looking to make a career for themselves.
Have you thought about where music might take you once you’ve finished college?
Once I’ve completed my degree, I’m going to throw myself into my music full time.
I’ll be performing, writing, recording and working to continue my success as a musician. I’m really looking forward to turning all of my attention onto doing what I love and making a name for myself – you have to work for what you want, after all.
How has the past year impacted your studies and your music?
The pandemic hit my industry like a train. We’ve had to sit at home and learn to adapt, just like everyone else has.
I’ve found it incredibly hard at times, but it’s also been a great time to focus on other aspects of my career, like honing my skills producing music, taking the time to write more music and growing my online profile.
It’s made my studies much more challenging, but the worst blow is us having to cancel our shows – in 2020 we lost our end-of-year show, and this year we were unable to put on our usual Christmas performance due to the restrictions that were in place.
We are still working towards putting on an end of year show this year, but we’ll most likely be without an audience, which is utterly heartbreaking – my classmates and I have so much passion and fire for performing, but at the minute, we can’t express or showcase it. It’s been a difficult year, for everyone.
What are your hopes for 2021?
As the pandemic eases, I’m really looking forward to getting back to doing what I love; writing and performing my music.
I have aspirations to produce more music on my own and also to begin working towards my first album, which I’m incredibly excited about.
There are so many possibilities for the year ahead and I plan on working very, very hard – after all, you do reap what you sow.
Where can people find your music?
You can find my music on all major streaming platforms, as well as on YouTube and Apple Music. You can also check out my social media platforms to keep up to date with what I’m doing – on Facebook as Rebecca-Anna Music and rebecca_anna_official over on Instagram.