Rachel Austin
Pronouns: she/they
Instruments: Voice, Guitar, Piano
Styles: Jazz, Latin Musics, Alternative, Soul, Folk, Free Jazz / Free Improv


Rachel Austin’s aim as a musician is to cultivate playfulness. Calling to mind comparisons with Nick Cave’s restless creative spirit, she rarely comes from the obvious perspective, by turns cajoling her way into the heart. Raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains but musically brought up in Northern Ireland, Rachel is a songwriter who weaves melodies on guitar and on loop pedal. She has toured and recorded throughout Europe, Mexico, and the US performing her own music, as well as punk, free improv, and Latin American music. Rachel last toured the US and France to promote her EP & book, Learning But Never Knowing, and has opened for such acts as Florence + the Machine, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Nathaniel Rateliff, Foy Vance, Steven Forbert, Fred Frith, and Fatoumata Diawara. She has performed with Kronos Quartet, Pádraig Ó Tuama, and the Irish Symphony Orchestra. Rachel has a degree in electronic composition and recording from Mills College and an MFA in Performance & Performance Studies from Pratt Institute. She taught voice and performance at Queen’s University Belfast after studying vocal anatomy with Estill Voice and Christina Shewell. She is deeply interested in building technical, emotional, and somatic-based performance skills with singers and musicians.


I fell in love with jazz when I was 8 and first heard What A Wonderful World at a production of Our Town at EMU. I was like: “What is this voice?? How can music be so beautiful??” My parents — neither of whom have ever been jazz fans — sent me into a tape store in the mall in Harrisonburg with $10 to get advice from the likely teenage shop clerks there. I came out with a Louis Armstrong tape and Duke Ellington's Sentimental Journey on their recommendation. There’s really been no going back!