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“I Released My Debut Album During a Worldwide Pandemic” An Open Letter From Rachel Reinert

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An open letter from singer/songwriter Rachel Reinert:

Four years and two months. That’s how long it took me to write, record, and finally release my debut solo album on March 13th, 2020. It had already been a difficult enough journey — I left my former band, started over, desperately tried to find my team and collaborators, went broke, sold my house, slaved over songs and studio time, and prayed for doors to open and opportunities to come my way. Despite all the ups and downs, I finally had a completed album to put out into the universe, and I was ready to hit the ground running.

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If someone had told me that what was supposed to be one of the happiest moments of my entire life would be greatly shadowed by a massive tornado ripping through and devastating my city of Nashville, immediately followed by a worldwide pandemic bringing everything to a screeching halt, I wouldn’t have believed it in a million years. How could this happen? Why did everything get turned on its axis so quickly? It’s beyond heartbreaking. And it’s deeply affecting everyone. My husband, also a musician, is worried because he’s waiting to find out if his band’s summer tour will be postponed. “How are we going to survive this?” is the question on most people’s minds right now — most especially us musicians/artists who greatly rely on touring for our income. I’m also thinking about my brother, one of the hardest working individuals I know, who has been busting his ass searching tirelessly for his next opportunity. He just got hired on to coach special teams with the University of Colorado football team a few weeks ago. They were supposed to start spring ball this week, but, last week, school was cancelled and everybody got sent home. My social media is filled with friends who don’t know how they’re going to pay their bills because they’re out of work with nowhere to turn.

So, what’s next? There seems to be no end in sight. It all feels so uncertain and scary. We’ve been quarantined only a little over a week now, but I already realize how much I take for granted on a daily basis — driving down to my favorite coffee shop and making small talk with the baristas, going to shows and standing shoulder to shoulder with fellow passionate music lovers, hanging out at our local dive bar where we often reconnect with old friends just by chance — the beauty of living in this small(ish) town. Hugging people. Going to the gym. The sound of my husband screaming at the TV during March Madness. All of these seemingly small things now feel so much bigger.

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I was supposed to have a listening party at my label for industry folks, friends, family, and everyone involved with my record the day before it came out. My team had put so much time and effort into the event. My album is called Into The Blue, so everything was blue themed — drinks, decor, lighting, my outfit. As we inched closer to the party, we all realized that coronavirus was becoming more and more serious. I had a sinking feeling. I got the email the morning of the event that my listening party would have to be postponed. I immediately burst into tears. I was inconsolable. There was just so much that went into all of this. All I wanted was to celebrate this moment with everyone who had worked so hard and for people to hear these songs and my stories, but it was ripped away so fast. Of course, it was the right thing to do; I know that. Everybody’s safety and health are my priority, and I had to try my best to take my own selfishness out of the equation. I stopped by my label the next day to pick up my test vinyl. It was devastating to see boxes of blue decorations and half deflated balloons intended for the party scattered all around. It felt symbolic.

So, as my album softly made its way out into the world on March 13th, I found some relief. People let me know that they needed this music to help ease their anxiety around the current state of the world. That even though for me it felt like it was the worst possible time to put out an album, it was actually the perfect time. It was a gentle reminder from the universe that this is why I decided to be an artist and write songs. I don’t do it for the accolades, the numbers, or the notoriety. I do it for the human connection and to create the escape that people so desperately need, and they need it now more than ever.

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I’m currently writing this essay from my couch after crying my eyes out about five minutes ago, lamenting to my husband about how insane all of this is. I was supposed to be in Los Angeles right now doing press. But this isn’t my “woe is me” moment. I’m sure I will have many more ups and downs as I adjust to this reality. We all will. I’m clinging to the silver linings wherever I can find them — the fact that people have actually slowed down enough to really listen and hear the music, the sweet notes I get from random strangers on social media telling me which songs they love best, the beautifully written album reviews that are trickling in. It all means more to me than anyone will ever know.

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Above all, this is about coming together for the greater good of humanity. I believe one day we will all look back and find the beauty in this current state of darkness. Even if it’s just finding a whole new sense of gratitude in the things that we take for granted on a daily basis.

And all at once, I realize I have to turn to my own words — “it’s working out just as it should” — from my song “Light Years.” So much of my album was written from the space and mindset of everything happening for a reason. Right now, I’m holding on to that tighter than ever.

Photo Credit: Susan Berry

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