Rachel Wammack’s Roots Inspire Her to Give Back: ‘It’s Good for My Soul’
Some towns and cities just have musical magic running in the water. Such is the case for Rachel Wammack's hometown of Muscle Shoals, Ala., where soul giants such as Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Wilson Pickett and countless others recorded their most beloved records. Even to this day, Wammack says, her own musical identity grounds her in the Shoals' culture and connects her to the area and the people who live there.
"Being from the Shoals, I feel like I have a lot of soul in my spirit as well as in my voice, and blues music was founded on people going through hard times," Wammack explains. "I feel like I have a lot of deepness in my spirit, and deepness in my soul."
That deepness takes center stage in "Damage," Wammack's debut single. A ballad told from the perspective of a bartender who serves as a therapist, confidant and "best friend pretender," the song introduces a collection of people in all phases of life, each going through their own individual challenges.
Outside of music, Wammack feels called to help people, too: She plays benefits in support of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and held a concert at the Tennessee Prison for Women during the 2018 holiday season.
"I didn't know this, but I was the first major-label artist to play at the women's facility. It was about 300 [people] in there in a gymnasium," Wammack recalls of the latter experience. "I got a standing ovation after every song, and that's not a tribute to how great I am. It's a tribute to how grateful they are and how much joy [they have]. I played Whitney Houston's "How Will I Know," and they all got up and danced and sang."
As part of her work with St. Jude, Wammack paid a visit to the hospital, located in Memphis, another community entrenched in a rich musical history. "Muscle Shoals and Memphis, they say they're cousins in soul and blues music. And beyond Elvis, it's just so much history," Wammack notes.
"Being a part of St. Jude and just going into different walks of life that I wouldn't normally be a part of, it just reminds me that as a Sony / RCA artist, I have very high-class problems," she adds. "It keeps my perspective very humble. I wanna be a part of [St. Jude] and a part of the women's prison for a while. Just because it's good for my soul."
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