Rachel Davis:
catch her while she's young

Cape Breton produces world-class fiddlers at such a prolific rate, it's best to catch them when they're young. One whose star seems to be on the rise is 18-year-old Rachel Davis from Baddeck.

Inspired and taught by her grandfather, Clarence Long, Rachel is now making her second appearance as a featured performer at Celtic Colours. I caught her jamming through some tunes at the Festival Club, sharing the stage with Beverly MacLean.

Rachel is a vibrant young player, and her face displays both an intense concentration and a fierce joy when she plays. She has an adorable, infectious smile -- an explosion of cheekbones -- and at times I thought she might bounce clear out of her chair.

I settled in for a quick chat with Rachel, fresh from a marathon set on the Festival Club stage. (The next band was running late, so she and Beverly were asked to keep going.) "I was tired before I went up there," she joked.

There's no need for a power bar, however; Rachel said the music itself is the ultimate pick-me-up.

"Whenever I hear it, it gives me energy," she said. "It always wakes you up."

Rachel seems especially pleased to be carrying on a family tradition. "There's music in me," she said.

With additional training under her belt from the Gaelic College, Rachel had her first exposure to public performance at Baddeck dances. "You get jittery when you start," she said. "But once you start playing, you just enjoy yourself and forget about being nervous.

When she performed at Celtic Colours 2006, the audience was on her side to help get her over those big-crowd jitters.

"Probably half the audience I either knew or was related to," she said with a laugh.

Rachel is attending Cape Breton University with her sights on an arts degree in Celtic studies. She would like to end up with an education certificate, too.

But her real dream is to make a living on the stage.

"I want to be a performer," she said. "I love the idea of touring and seeing the world. It sounds just wonderful to me."

[ visit Rachel's website ]

review by
Tom Knapp

27 October 2007

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