Rachel McFarlane Biography
Born and bred in Manchester, Rachel started singing at the tender age of 12 years old through the demanding route of gospel choirs. This afforded her the opportunity to perform on various stages, including a Coca-Cola advert based at St. Georges Hall, Liverpool, TV shows (Stars in Their Eyes and Songs of Praise) and supporting acts such as Hugh Masakela and Roy Ayres at the Nia Centre. She’s also had the privilege of working alongside US Gospel ‘greats’- Marvin & Ron Winans, Commissioned & Shirley Caesar. Her first brush with the Pop music industry came about when at 15 years old, she was asked to record with MC Buzz B on his ‘How Sleep the Brave’ EP. Shortly after, Rachel recorded with Family Foundation, (a group signed to Pete Waterman’s 380 Records). She is featured on the ‘Express Yourself’ and ‘One Blood’ EPs. Rachel’s Gospel vocal talent married so well with the House beat and this did not go unnoticed; soon she would become the most in-demand vocalist in Manchester. She later recorded ‘10x10’ for 808 State, which featured on their Gorgeous album and she also accompanied them on their subsequent World Tours.
Rachel’s studio career resumed with her collaboration with Loveland. In 1994, she recorded, ‘Let the Music Lift You Up’, which reached number 16 in the UK charts, delivering Loveland their first top 40 hit. Rachel went on to record Loveland’s album, ‘The Wonder of Love’, which spawned 5 UK top 40 hits, plus 4 Dance number 1’s. Rachel also worked with N-Trance, recording the single, ‘Turn Up the Power’, reaching number 23 in the UK charts. Shortly after this, she teamed up with Urban Cookie Collective and recorded the Oasis smash hit, ‘Champagne Supernova’. Although never receiving an official release, this recording remains a classic. Rachel has also been privileged to record with the club and DJ Giants, K-Klass on their K2 album. In 1998 Rachel released her first self penned, ‘Lover’, which provided her first solo top 40 hit. This was an amazing feat considering it had very little airplay, publicity, or video to promote it. It has been reworked several times, but it is the JPS bootleg of ‘Lover’ with Paul Van Dyke's, "For an Angel", that it is probably best remembered and it remains a club hit to this day. The original version, however, enabled Rachel to be accepted as a credible songwriter and artist in her own right. As a result, she was asked to perform on the Cream Tour of Australia. Re-worked and re-released in January 2005, ‘Lover’ broke into the top 40 again.
In 2000, Rachel developed Graves Disease, a severe form of hyperthyroidism. This was to drastically change her life! Unable to perform, Rachel turned her strengths to teaching music workshops to young people within the inner city areas of Manchester & Cheshire. This proved to be a very inspiring time for her as she passed her skills on to the next generation. After this bout of sickness lasting over 2 years, Rachel was approached by Lee Monteverde to record a single for LMCvU2. ‘Take Me To The Clouds Above’ was released in February 2004 and reached Number 1 for two weeks in the UK charts. Rachel’s career resumed and whilst still performing, she embarked on a path of discovery and pursued her academic goals. She graduated with her first degree (Bachelor of Divinity) in 2010, allowing her to follow her call to the ministry.
Rachel’s artistry has seen her diversify into different aspects of the entertainment industry, including stage and musicals, culminating in her starring in the multi award winning play ‘Rent’, both in the West End and on the extensive UK tour; ‘Blues For Mister Charlie’, directed by Greg Hershov at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester; ‘Black Goes With Everything’- revue of the work of songwriter Don Black, directed by Arlene Philips, and also ‘One’ a two-hander workshop with Clive Rowe, directed by Sir Richard Eyre at the National Theatre Studio.
Rachel returned to the West End in 2011 as an original cast member of the UK production of ‘Rock of Ages’, playing the role of Justice Charlier. Once again, Rachel sought for opportunities to give back to her community and undertook a role of Chaplain at the Kings College Hospital, London. This ended when she left to resume her role on the Rock of Ages UK tour (2014). Upon her return to Manchester, Rachel joined All FM 96.9 as a Radio Presenter and developed a show called, ‘Our House’, celebrating vocal and soulful house music. In 2016, Rachel recorded her single, ‘Let Nothing’, a Gospel House infusion released on Defected Records with fellow Mancunian, DJ Nick Hussey.
She was later approached by DJ Dave Haslem to join him in performance with the Manchester Camerata at the famed ‘Switching on of the Christmas lights’ at Intu Trafford Centre in 2017. Rachel’s vocal talents has afforded her many accolades and amongst those received from the Music Industry has been the Music Week Dance Single of the Year 1994 for ‘Let The Music Lift You Up’ (Loveland), Malibu Female Singer of the Year 1997 and the prestigious Brit Nomination for Best Single 2004 along with a Silver Disc for the LMCvU2 single, ‘Take Me To The Clouds Above’.
Rachel has an enviable record and body of work, and there is more to come. She recently graduated in 2018 with her Masters Degree (Merit) in Theology, which naturally led her back to her undying love for Gospel music. She is currently completing her first solo album, ‘Evolution’, celebrating her gospel roots, which she affectionately describes as the ‘making of me’. Rachel has also formed her music company, IKonic Music, to release gospel/soulful house music, fulfilling her mandate to release a sound of love, hope and freedom. Whether it is gospel, theatre, or dance floor you are guaranteed an experience that will leave you uplifted.