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Take Five With Rahe

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Rahe:
Composer/guitarist/multilingual vocalist (she speaks fluent Portuguese and Castilian Spanish), Rahe (pronounced "Ray") spent most of her childhood in Japan and Spain (the land of her heritage), before settling in Colorado at 13. Her first profound musical experiences occurred in Andalucia at age five, where she was invited into the Flamenco circles of the gypsies to participate in the palmas (handclapping percussion). Self-taught on the guitar (from the blues of Lightnin' Hopkins to the bossa nova of Joao Gilberto), Rahe began to focus on her own music in her early teens. She received the Single of the Year Award at the 2009 Los Angeles Music Awards for her song, "Weakness."

She has performed in Tokyo, Madrid, New York City, Los Angeles and other U.S. cities,and recently debuted her new band RAHE & illumiNation (Rahe, on vocals and acoustic guitar, with alto, tenor, two baritone saxophones and drums) at the Fox Tucson Theatre. Rahe's first album Out of the Box—an acoustic, multilingual foray into the entire spectrum of her musical vision—was released in March on Outward Visions Music. Two videos of her songs, "Be Down" and "Rescue," are on YouTube. Recent solo performances and interviews include KXCI radio in Tucson and KSFR radio in Santa Fe.

Instrument(s):
Nylon-stringed acoustic guitar, voice.

Teachers and/or influences?
Life has been my teacher—the experiences I've had growing up all around the world, sharing experiences and playing music with people from all walks of life, has made me the musician, and person, that I am. My musical influences are definitely diverse, but mainly artists from the past or musicians from other countries, ranging from jazz greats like Billie Holiday, Betty Carter, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, amazing singers like Ray Charles, Otis Redding and Nina Simone, to bossa nova legends like Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim, to Spain's Joan Manuel Serrat and Concha Buika, Portugal's Sara Tavares...the list goes on.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
at five years-old, I would sneak out in the middle of the night to play Flamenco music with the gypsies in the streets of Southern Spain, enveloped in the passion and fire of the palmas, guitars, dancers, and wailing voices, the beautiful ancient versos passed down from generation to generation. There is a Spanish song by Antonio Flores that says "Oye, pero mira yo soy Flamenco, por mi vena yo lo siento," which translates to "Listen, I am Flamenco, I feel it flowing through my veins." For these people, music is the essence of who they are as beings. I knew, the first time that verse came out of my mouth, nothing would come between me and music, because in my veins, music runs thicker than blood.

Your sound and approach to music:
My sound is described as "Acoustic, Eclectic World and Jazz," or "Spain, Brazil, and Africa deep-kiss American Soul and Jazz." I approach music in a very old-school, organic way. I let my compositions speak to me. I don't force them to be something they are not, to fit into a particular style or structure. I believe that the music already exists, that it lives inside me, and that it's my job to express it in the best and sincerest way I can. As for working with other musicians, I take a similar approach. Because I have some really fantastic players in my ensemble, I give them a sense of what I want, explain what the main idea that needs to be expressed is, and give them the freedom to interpret and express the songs as if they belong to them too, giving everything they can to the music. That way, the music continues to grow, and there is no limit to the level it can reach. The composition of my group RAHE & illumiNation gives a pretty good indication of that unique approach: a saxophone quartet (alto, tenor and two baritones), drums and myself.

Your teaching approach:
My teaching style is a lot like my musical style. I don't try to force students to follow a certain formula or mold to a particular genre. I give them ideas, inspiration, positive encouragement and feedback, and guide them in the process of discovering their own personal approach. I feel that everyone has a unique message to express, and the ways in which we express it are just as unique. For me, music is the ultimate form of expression, a pathway to self-discovery, and a truly incredible means to finding a connection with your inner being and with others. When I teach, I strive to help my students own that concept, so that they are inspired and uplifted, not intimidated and afraid.

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