Her career has taken her from Belfast to London’s West End and New York’s Broadway. Now, reflecting upon her past and looking to the future, Rachel Tucker has complied a new contemporary album which “encapsulates the music that has shaped” her life.
“Every note comes straight from my head and my heart,” says the 42-year-old, about You're Already Home.
Eight months in the making, the idea for the new album began whilst living in New York and starring as Beverley Bass in Come from Away, the musical for which she had received an Olivier Nomination in 2020.
At the time, Rachel was contemplating moving back to London with her theatre director husband, Guy Retallack, and 10-year-old son, Ben.
“New York just wasn’t the same post-Covid and so expensive. We were kind of in a limbo and didn’t know which would, or should, be our home,” she reflects.
Rachel wanted a collection which reflected “the hard choices we sometimes have to make between family, home and career”.
“The tracks reflect these different elements of our lives and the choices we make,” adds Rachel, whose track list combines musical theatre, pop and rock songs.
You're Already Home features stunning arrangements of classic songs like Wouldn’t It Be Loverly (My Fair Lady) to The Rolling Stone’s Following The River and The Waterboys’ Whole Of The Moon.
“For this album I really wanted to blend my favourite musical styles together. But we’ve tried to give the pop and rock songs more theatrically dramatic, and the musical theatre songs more poppy. There’s also an Americana undercurrent to the whole thing, as it’s a genre I love and am very influenced by.”
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Rachel's fourth album also features duets with Jamie Muscato (Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish) and Jason Robert Brown (It All Fades Away from The Bridges of Madison County).
“Jamie is amazing. He has a massive following, he’s so cool and I feel all cool getting to sing with him. I sang with him a few weeks ago at the Stephen Schwartz 75th birthday celebrations, which was pretty special,” she enthuses.
The track she is proudest of is I’m Home, written in collaboration with Irish singer/songwriter Caroline Kay, which highlights that home for Rachel is “being somewhere with family”.
“It’s been great working with Caroline. She is currently writing a part for me in her new musical. We spent quite a lot of time via Zoom and WhatsApp making this song perfect.
“It’s everything I asked for. It sounds corny, but ultimately, for me, home is wherever Guy and Ben are.”
Rachel’s son played a part in influencing his mother’s song choices – from He’s My Boy, taken from the musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, to It’s Time by Ben’s favourite band Imagine Dragons.
“He introduced us to them, and we saw them together at Madison Square Gardens.”
Whilst he isn’t following in his mum’s footsteps in terms of singing and acting, Ben is already showing other talents.
“He's a wee drummer boy – brilliant,” says his proud mum. “And he enjoys directing, like his daddy”.
Rachel started her singing career alongside her dad, Tommy Tucker Kelly, and sister Margaret on the cabaret circuit in Belfast.
After leaving school, she studied at London’s Royal Academy of Music and in 2008 won the heart of Andrew Lloyd Webber, when she reached the semi-final of the TV talent show I'd Do Anything.
She went to make her mark on London’s West End in We Will Rock You and as Elphaba in Wicked, as well as appearances in Songs For A New World and Annie Get Your Gun. Her Broadway debut was as Meg Dawson in Sting’s The Last Ship.
Despite her success, it’s the advice of her parents that has been a continuing guide upon her life and career.
“My upbringing has always influenced me. Singing in the clubs with a live band was great grounding. Things go wrong, but the show must go on. Dad taught me to keep working and carving out a career. He would say ‘it’s hard to hit a moving target love’.
“That was one of the reasons why we jumped to America. When we had the opportunity to get our green cards, many friends told me I was mad to up sticks and move across the world with a family and start again.
“Likewise, mum used to say ‘jump and a net will appear’. I have that tattooed on my arm; the sentiment has been a guiding force throughout my life, and it’s worked thus far,” adds an emotional Rachel.
She will be performing a solo concert in London’s Cadogan Hall on November 5, to launch her new album, but has plans for some Irish dates next spring.
Currently, she is also guest starring as the immortal Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard in London’s West End, every Monday until January 6.
Directed by Jamie Lloyd, Rachel says it’s “a career high” to take such an iconic role in the brand-new version of Andrew Lloyd’s Webber famous score.
“We are calling it the Monday night club, as lots of friends and family are travelling over from Belfast to see it.”
She shares the role of Norma with Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger – but each actress has been encouraged to put their own spin on the character.
“Nicole is a real talent and a thrill to watch, but Jamie in rehearsals said to me ‘show me the diva Tucker.
“I’m not a diva, I’m very down to earth, so to be honest, I found that quite a challenge,” adds Rachel, revealing that this is a more minimalist and darker version of Sunset Boulevard.
“It takes away the glitz, glam and big staircase and shows a darker and more honest side to Hollywood.”
Rachel can also currently be seen on our TV screens, as Siobhan O’Hare in the BBC police drama Hope Street, which was filmed in Co Down.
“I love television and acting as well. I love stretching my abilities and having different Rachel heads on at different times. It keeps me fresh and on my toes. I’d love to do a stage play some day,” she teases.
You're Already Home is released on November 3. It can be pre-saved now on Spotify and Apple Music.