Rachel Goode told David Hennessy about Glór Tíre, The Late Late Show’s Eurosong special, her forthcoming album and moving to Ballinasloe after being born and growing up in the Midlands area of England.
Rachel Goode certainly has been busy.
The 32- year- old country/ folk singer with a background in classical and opera, has been a finalist on Glór Tíre and competed in Ireland’s Eurosong although just missing out on representing Ireland in the Eurovision.
Rachel is preparing to release her debut album and in addition to all her performing and recording, she has also completed a Master’s to become a secondary school music teacher.
And as if all that wasn’t enough, she has recently announced she is also expecting her first baby.
But she still found time to chat to The Irish World to talk about how crazy it has been for the last few years.
“It has been busy,” she says.
“I juggle a lot of things because I went back to college just before COVID.
“I was juggling teaching, doing my weddings, doing my concerts, recording my album, and also- in the middle of that- I found out I was expecting a baby, so it was all a crazy year.”
It wasn’t just the year just gone, was it. You started 2022 with a bang singing on The Late Late for their Eurosong special..
“I’ve watched Eurovision ever since I was little, I’ve always loved Eurovision.
“And it’s funny how that happened actually, they found me through Instagram.
“I got this message to say, ‘Hi, Rachel. We’re songwriters from Sweden. We’ve written a song for the Eurovision. It’s after getting into the final of the Eurosong for Ireland, but we don’t have a singer and we’ve just come across you. We love your vibe and we love your sound and everything about you, and we’d love you to sing our song’.
“I actually thought it was a scam.
“I said, ‘Look, I’ll reply’.
“I said, ‘Please send me the song and let me have a listen’.
“They sent me the song and then I started to think, ‘Okay, this is actually real’.
“The song (I’m Loving Me)’s such a bop. It was so Eurovision.
“So they said, ‘Look, we’d love to hear you singing the song over zoom’.
“The next day, we had a zoom.
“I sang the song and I said, ‘Okay, Thank you so much and I assume you have to go and deliberate and listen to other singers….’
“And they said, ‘No, no, we’ve only been talking to you’.
“And I was like, ‘Really?’
“And they said, ‘No, we love you. We want you. That’s it. You’ve got it’.
“So I was like, ‘What?’
“I remember walking out to my kitchen after the Zoom being like, ‘Mum, I’m going to be on the Late Late’.
“It was so surreal because I grew up watching the Late Late as well and I always wanted to be on the Late Late.
“It was amazing. Now my next aim or goal is to get on the Late Late for my own music.
“I’d really love that but the Eurosong was amazing.
“Unfortunately, the song didn’t win.
“(But) I got the second highest text vote which was quite amazing.
“The same year I was also on Glór Tíre on TG4.
“It was just very funny how everything worked out because I was on TV for the Eurosong and a week later I was on TV for TG4, so I was on TV quite a lot for them few weeks and asking people for votes.
“I felt really bad because I was asking them for votes for the Eurosong and then I was asking them for votes again on the Glór Tíre.
“But no, it was amazing.
“It was really, really good.
“And you can’t buy that kind of coverage.”
It came along at once, didn’t it? Eurosong and Glór Tíre…
“It was all very on top of each other and I was in college at the same time, so I was in the middle of RTE and the same thing with TG4: On my laptop, doing lectures online and then running off to get my makeup done to go on stage.
“It was all a bit mad but I loved it. I really loved it. It was a great experience.
“Glór Tíre was amazing actually.
“I didn’t expect to get to the final, because I wasn’t very well known on the scene, and I did so I was really, really delighted with that.
“It was amazing.
“I’m a classically trained soprano so I grew up singing classical music and always had a massive love for opera and musical theatre, but I also always sang Irish folk.
“I was always really drawn to Mary Black when I was young.
“I also grew up listening to country music as well. I was always very drawn to Patsy Cline.
“I suppose I decided I wanted to kind of delve into that side of my voice a bit more, the more folky side of my voice.
“I released a single back in 2021 and it was a bluegrassy version of Coal Miner’s Daughter.
“That’s how I got on Glór Tíre, it kind of all just spiralled from there.
“I think my favourite moment on Glór Tíre was actually singing The Fureys’ When You Were Sweet 16 in Irish.
“It’s a song I’ve loved all my life, but trying to sing it as Gaeilge was hard because I actually grew up in the UK, so I don’t speak Irish.
“When I learn Irish, I have to learn it all phonetically and have it all written out phonetically, so that was difficult because we didn’t have a lot of time to learn the song, but I think that was probably my favourite song of the whole series because it was a challenge.
“Glór Tíre was great because I got to sing what I wanted to sing, the style of country that I like which is real, old American stuff.”
You mention your opera and classical background there but also that you were drawn to folk/ country. Was there a hesitation or something holding back from going for it as a country/ folk singer?
“When I finished school, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do.
“I always wanted to be a singer but a singer wasn’t a real job so I was like, ‘Right, what am I going to do for my real job?’
“I wanted to be a teacher but because I didn’t have Irish, I couldn’t do primary teaching so I decided I’d do a degree in music.
“And the course I went to was really classical based and I absolutely loved it.
“But when I was in college, I was (also) gigging a lot.
“I used to gig in pubs and I did my weddings- I’ve been singing at weddings since I was 15.
“So I always kept that side of my voice alive.
“I’ve always been a bit of a hybrid but I think when COVID happened, I kind of was like, ‘Maybe I’ll go back now and do my teaching’, because I always wanted to be a teacher as well and things seemed a bit unsettled that I kind of thought, ‘Maybe I should do something’, have something to fall back on really.
“While that was happening as well, I kind of I started recording a lot of Irish folk piecesand posting them online and they were going down a real treat.
“I said, ‘Maybe now is the time for that’.
“I always wanted to start recording stuff but I never really thought I was going to record anything classical.
“Although I performed in operas with different opera companies and it was amazing and I loved it and I still do my little bit of classical now, I just wanted to delve into the folk side of my voice a bit more.”
You say you grew up in the UK, were you born over here?
“Yeah, I was.
“My parents got married and then they moved to the UK for work.
“And then they had me.
“And while they were living in the UK, they were building their house, my home house in Ireland so that house became our holiday home. We spent all our summers, Christmases, Easters in Ireland.
“We used to get the ferry every year.
“I remember the car was full, and I was just sitting in the back with stuff everywhere because we used to come home for weeks so my mam would bring everything.
“So yeah, Ireland was always home.
“It was funny.
“I used to always say, ‘Oh, I’m going back to England now, going back to school and I’ll be home for summer’.
“So Ireland was always classed as home.
“England was never really home.
“It was never really where the heart was.
“We were always supposed to move back. It just ended up being prolonged, I suppose my parents were getting on well over there with work and then I got to the age of around 13 and my parents sat me down.
“I had just started in my new secondary school and I think it was around Easter.
“My parents sat me down and said, ‘Look, we’re ready to go back to Ireland and we’re going to leave it up to you because we know you’ve just settled into your new school. And if you don’t want to go, we won’t go. So the decision is yours’.
“And I just said, ‘I want to go’, and that was it.
“I can’t remember did we wait until the end of the year but at the time I was doing Irish dancing and the World Championships were on in Killarney.
“I remember we drove home and went to Killarney.
“I did the dance competitions because I was in the eight hand with my dance school, and I left then.
“I remember crying leaving one of my best friends but I was really happy to come home.”
Rachel was born in Kettering and grew up in Corby, both in Northamptonshire.
She learned to Irish dance under Kevin Costello at the Costello School of Irish Dancing, starting when she was three. She would later join the Matthews Academy of Irish Dance in Coventry.
She medalled in the World Championships in the eight hand event she mentions.
“I loved Irish dancing. That was a huge part of my life.
“I really, really loved it and made great friendships from it as well.”
So you have no Irish because moving to Ireland at that age, you didn’t have to do it at school…
“I was always exempt.
“When I was in secondary school, I had a few free classes where I could get some study done and homework and stuff like that.
“But I didn’t realise how much it would affect me when I was leaving school and wanted to be a primary school teacher because I couldn’t do it.
“So I would have to go back, learn Irish, sit the Leaving Cert Irish and then go to college and I just said, ‘Oh, I don’t think so. I’m far too busy’,” she laughs.
But it has worked out anyway as you’re teaching now.
I bet any kids you teach music to are stoked to have a teacher that has sung on the Late Late..
“You think the kids don’t know.
“You don’t tell them your first name but they find out.
“I remember one girl.
“She said, ‘Miss, I heard you’re famous’.
“I said, ‘Really? Who said that?’
“’Well, I looked you up and you were on the Late Late..’
“I wouldn’t go in and tell them but they always find out.
“It is kind of cool.
“I feel like as a music teacher, it is good to have that side of things because there’s no point teaching them about music for them to just kind of say, ‘Oh, that was great and now it’s done’, it’s nice for them to see that there’s a teacher who actually is practicing music as well as teaching.”
You also do your bit for local charities, don’t you? I see you presenting a cheque just last week..
“I’ve been running a charity concert for the last six years, an annual Christmas thing now.
“Last year it was on 20 December, and I had the wonderful Sean Keane with me on the night, and I had Ger O’Donnell, another Irish folk singer who’s amazing.
“I think we raised €2,810.50 for two different charities: Ballinasloe Social Services and the East Galway Midlands Cancer Support Centre, so I was glad to be able to present them with that the other day.
“I think it was a total of nearly €6,000 raised from the concert.
“And the year before, I raised €10,500 for charity as well.
“I love my town and they’ve always been very supportive of me especially when I was on the telly and everything like that.
“They’re supportive of me and my music and the local magazine are always putting stuff in, whenever I have something on. They’re always plugging me, it’s nice to be able to give back to my community as well.”
You have been working on your debut album, haven’t you?
“Very excited, we recorded fully live in studio.
“We were all in the room together singing and playing at the same time because we really wanted to really make it really authentic and not too over produced.
“I just wanted it to really feel real and raw and authentic.
“I’m really, really happy with it.
“It’s a folk album, there’s some Irish folk covers on there. There’s some originals and I just released my debut original single, which is called The Moon Above the Fields and it’s going down really well.
“It’s a beautiful Irish folk song written about Killarney.
“I think the album really showcases my style and what I like because it has that really true Irish folk that I grew up listening to and loving singing, and then it also has a different side of things which brings in the bluesy element of music that I love.
“There should be something for everyone on there, but I’m going to start firing out singles now soon.
“So there’ll be loads of singles coming and then hopefully the album be coming this year then as well.”
And that is not all you’re expecting this year, is it?
“Yeah, I’m expecting my first baby in May.
“I probably plan on taking June and July a bit quiet and then August, I plan on getting back on my feet again.
“That’s when I really want to focus on trying to organise maybe some tours for 2025.
“We’re hoping to try and maybe do a few tours around Ireland, possibly the UK.
“What I would love is to grow a following that love my music and would come out and see me.
“That’s really my aim.
“I’d love to tour the world with my music, that would be an amazing achievement but we’ll see what happens.
“And if I can get to the UK in 2025, I’ll be delighted.”
The Moon Above the Fields is out now.
Look out for Rachel’s album later in the year.
For more information, click here.