Artist: Rebecca Porter
Hometown: Harrisonburg, Virginia
Latest Release: “Happy Go Lucky”
Personal Nicknames (or rejected band names): Becca
What’s your favorite memory from being on stage?
RP: One of my most favorite memories from being on stage is a recent one – singing on stage with The Steel Wheels at Red Wing Roots Music Festival. This was my first year performing at the festival. A couple weeks prior to its tenth year celebration, The Steel Wheels’ fiddle player reached out and invited me to join them as part of a folk choir for their song “Till No One Is Free.” After a couple run-throughs with the band and The Honey Dewdrops backstage, it seemed The Steel Wheels’ set flew by and before I knew it, I walked out on stage with them. I faced the largest crowd I’d ever performed for, shoulder to shoulder with the founders of the festival. So many smiles and festival goers welcomed us all into their hearts with open arms as they sang along with our makeshift folk choir. While the air was filled with countless voices, a calm silence of comfort fell over my heart.
What other art forms — literature, film, dance, painting, etc. — inform your music?
Visual arts impact my music by allowing me to observe and participate in the artist’s work, their vision, their experience. I may not be directly involved in the work’s creation, but the role of observing and appreciating a work, determining if and how it informs my thoughts, feelings, beliefs. All of those things are very similar to how I write, create and listen to music. A couple of my favorite artists include Cai Guo-Qiang, a Chinese artist who works in gunpowder drawings and explosives. The mere ability to utilize materials, typically connected to death and destruction, and repurpose them into visual wonders for peace, understanding and justice is beautiful. Kara Walker, an American contemporary who works in multiple mediums, creates mind-bending silhouettes that question and investigate race, gender, sexuality, and violence.
What was the first moment that you knew you wanted to be a musician?
I was known to dance on the family room coffee table to Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” a time or two, but the very first time I knew I wanted to be a musician was when I was four years old. I was watching an episode of Sally Jessy Raphael and a young girl sang “I Will Always Love You.” I still remember crying as I watched her sing and feeling a connection, a sort of sense of belonging.
If you had to write a mission statement for your career, what would it be?
Craft honest stories through lyrics, music and voice that foster and create connections. Utilize the power of song to build and inhabit spaces where individuals are safe to process, celebrate or escape themselves and the world around them. As with “Happy Go Lucky,” I want people to know it is okay, many times quite necessary, to feel the feels – do the shitty work for yourself – in order to move on and be at peace or replenish your happy-go-lucky when it starts to run out.
What has been the best advice you’ve received in your career so far?
If music is what you want, take it. Seize the moment, keep strumming. Go wherever your songs take you and then some.
Photo Credit: Heather Goodloe