Singer Rachel is a true artist

WHEN Rachel Sermanni entered 2014, she thought she might have enough spare time to help her dad with his garden.

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Rachel Sermanni has appeared at Shotts prison but will tonight be singing at  Glasgow Green
Rachel Sermanni has appeared at Shotts prison but will tonight be singing at Glasgow Green

It hasn't worked out like that.

The Carrbridge-born songstress spent years touring non-stop, before deciding to cut back this year, but she's ended up filling it with various other projects - including visits to Shotts prison.

"I was working with Vox Liminis, who bring songwriting into Scottish prisons, which was writing with prisoners and writing from the point of view of prisoners," she explains, ahead of a special performance at Glasgow Green tonight alongside the Cairn String Quartet.

"It was amazing working with the prisoners and releasing creativity. It was all about breaking down walls and getting them to say whatever they liked, no matter how surreal or abstract. At the end of it there was quite a profound feeling."

That's not the only project Rachel has been busying herself with. There's the naked ladies, too…

Yes, naked ladies. It's a collection of the singer's artwork, which tends to focus on either nudes or her dreams, and she exhibited it in Edinburgh earlier this year.

She's hoping to see some prints of them when she goes out on tour in the Autumn, but it still begs the question of why they're all in the nude…

"I'm constantly trying to crack people like an egg and get through tedium to find out who they are, and the best way of doing that is through art," she says. "Why naked ladies is a question I ask myself - it started on tour. I love the characters that come out of it, and it can be as shallow or deep as you want it to be.

"The characters are quite different to me, they're what I'm not - they've got wine glasses and cigarettes in their hands. It's an outlet of mischief."

The main outlet is still Rachel's music, and although she's been working on other projects there's still been plenty of time to showcase the gorgeous voice and thoughtful lyrics that have marked her out as one of Scottish folk's rising stars.

Earlier this year she released a new EP, Everything Changes, while there's also plans to hit the recording studio again in September.

Before that, though, there's been the Commonwealth Games.

Last week the 22-year-old had the honour of performing before the Scottish team, and now she's got a special performance on Glasgow Green this Tuesday.

The enthusiastic singer is delighted to be performing with the girls in the Cairn String Quartet, too.

"It'll be fun and those girls are amazing," she adds.

"They're so lovely, and there's nothing better than playing with a bunch of strings.

"I played with them at a wedding once, and at their Oran Mor gig, so they know some of the songs already, and then there's a couple more that will hopefully pull a tear from someone's eye in the crowd…"

The songstress may not have drawn tears from the Scottish athletes last week, but she did get a warm reception from them when she played.

A keen runner who played rugby at school, Rachel was pleased to be connected to the Games.

"I didn't even realise how happy I was to be taking part until I was standing in front of them [the athletes] saying good luck," she laughs.

"It was a lovely honour to sing for them. My young sister's an athlete, she's 16 and training in the biathlon, so I appreciate all the training that goes into sport."

Her own music required dedication, too, particularly given the lack of money in the music industry.

Earlier this year one of her songs was used by the Royal Bank of Scotland, who provoked online criticism from people who felt she'd sold out, as well as spirited defences from those who pointed out the likes of Andy Murray are also affiliated with the bank.

"The RBS thing has meant we've almost broken even," she says. "I guess I'm now in a zone now where I can be free, and next year means I can explore again. I was completely aware that it would have collateral effects. But it led me to many places, and taught me many lessons.

"It was an interesting time, and I can feel sorry for myself, or feel against myself, but mainly the attitude is being thankful for where I am now, which, weirdly enough, is a bit of a tramp's life."

l Rachel Sermanni, Glasgow Green, 6.30pm, today, free.

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