At sweet 16, Rachel Lee Williams created a three-song original CD with the help of producers Bryan Reilly and metro Detroit music veteran and author Stewart Francke, who recently published a memoir about his long struggle with leukemia, “What Don’t Kill Me Just Makes Me Strong.”
Williams connected with Francke not only on a musical level — she also has a cancer survivor in her family, her father, Kevin, who is also a musician and a strong influence in her career.
A prodigy of Jennifer Kincer Vocal Coaching in Rochester Hills, Rachel credits much of her success to her teacher and mentor. “The reason I’m so visible is because of Jennifer and all she’s done to support me,” shares the curly haired singer, born and raised in Rochester.
Williams refers to her style as acoustic pop. “A lot of my songs are more of a ballad style or slow,” she explains. “… but I’m working on writing more upbeat songs while still staying true to my genre.”
Rachel taught herself guitar and began writing songs at age 13. She then cultivated an interest in piano and was classically trained by Nina Flanigan, also of Rochester.
At 14, Rachel was singing in her church choir and went on to perform in the Rochester Adams High School Choir. She completed an internship for the Michigan Opera Theatre’s Rackham Symphony Choir’s “Too Hot to Handel,” in her junior year.
After working as one of Kincer’s assistant teachers, working with others became infectious for the Oakland University student.
“I enjoy working on things people are passionate about,” she shares. Her passion to give back goes beyond music. She has volunteered for Pontiac’s Bound Together after school tutoring program, funded by in-kind donations from the American Association of University Women.
“This is an amazing program,” shares Rachel. “I fell in love with the students; they’re some of the sweetest kids … so hard working.”
Community involvement is yet another of William’s passions, and she has had a very full summer performing in her home town.
She recently performed at the Fall Farm-to-Table Dinner, hosted by the Rochester Downtown Development Authority and sponsored by The Meeting House.
More gigs in Rochester have included Deck Art, Fine Art Fair at the Village and Music in the Park, both at The Village of Rochester Hills; Downtown Rochester Farmers’ Market, “Late Night Thursdays” and Sidewalk Sales, in Downtown Rochester; the Michigan Earth Day Festival and at Relay for Life of Greater Rochester; and at Arts, Beats & Eats in the past.
Plan to see her during Lagniappe and The Big, Bright Light Show, along with the Kris Kringle Market and Rochester Hometown Parade, more of Rochester’s signature events she has enjoyed participating in over the years.
The young entrepreneur owns RLW Music, LLC, where she shares her talent with fresh young talent looking to hone their skills.
Despite all her experience, Williams says she considers herself a typical teen who likes to read and hang out with friends. “I’m not sure what I want to do with singing — but whether it’s just singing at coffee shops or teaching students, it will always be part of my life,” she shares. “I’m not sure where it is going to take me, which is exciting.”
Photo: Jean Lannen