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Special Section Archives The Altamont Enterprise, August 18, 2011
“Totally perfect and pivotal”
By Melissa Hale-Spencer
Rachael Martin is living her dream in Nashville, and it all started at the Altamont Fair.
Two years ago, when she was Rachael Howarth, she entered the WGNA Country Idol contest, competing in the grandstand pavilion, singing Faith Hill’s “There You’ll Be.”
Martin won the $200 grand prize.
“I’m so happy. I’m just ecstatic right now,” she told The Enterprise moments after winning. A rising junior at the University of Albany, she spoke of how she hoped to move to Nashville after graduation to pursue her dream.
She recalled seeing the newspaper article about her victory: “It said in big black letters, ‘This is still my dream.’ I started crying when I saw that.
“After that,” she went on, “I went to a craft store and got a black box and put the word ‘Nashville’ on it and decorated it.” Martin put the Altamont Enterprise article, written by Maggie Gordon, in the box along with her winnings.
“That was my starter money,” she said this week. “I prayed about it. I didn’t know anyone who lived in Tennessee, let alone anyone in the music industry.”
A year later, with the support of friends and family, Martin was flying to Tennessee, taking her Nashville box with her on the plane. There, she met with producer Rick Chudacoff with whom she’s still working.
She described her experience winning the Idol contest at the Altamont Fair in 2009 as “totally perfect and pivotal.”
Martin went on, “When I met with the producer in Nashville, I brought the box with me. It was a year to the week. The article was so dead on. I have this dream, and now I’m down here.”
She has since worked on recording songs composed by writers for two of her favorite artists, Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood.
After graduating from UAlbany in May with a bachelor’s degree in business marketing, Martin made a permanent move to Nashville.
“I’m a third done with my first full album,” she said this week. “I’m releasing a single sometime this fall.”
She is also working on writing her own songs. “I have so much to say,” said Martin.
“Everything happens for a reason”
Martin was raised in the small town of Nassau, the adopted daughter of Melody and Randy Howarth. She had health problems as a baby, she said. “When I was 3, my parents couldn’t take care of me.” So she was adopted by the Howarths.
Although she described her early years as “complicated,” Martin said, “I don’t have any resentment…I was successful. I went to college.”
She also said, “My biggest belief in life is that everything happens for a reason.”
Her adoptive mother, Melody Howarth, was named appropriately. “My Mom sings in the church,” said Martin. “She taught me to sing as soon as I could talk. I started singing in church.” She went on to sing in school plays and to perform the national anthem at special events. “Like I said, everything happens for a reason,” said Martin.
When she was 12, her biological father died. “The first time I met him was at his funeral,” she said. Martin added softly, “I didn’t really get to meet him.”
She conceded that was hard but said she was “a tough child.” Martin went on, “My adoptive parents told me from the beginning, I was always a fighter.” She has never met her biological mother.
Her biological father’s first name was Martin so she has now taken that as her stage name Rachael Martin.
Asked about her ultimate goal, Martin said, “I feel like my dreams have already come true. I only knew that Nashville was for country and Christian singers and I was somewhere in between the two. I’ve recorded two songs.”
She went on, “My next goal is to get signed by a record label. I’ll need a lot of support. These days, it’s really hard to get a record deal.”
In order to build support, Martin has set up a Facebook page so people can look at her music. The page is at www.facebook.com/rachaelmartinsmusic.
Right now, Martin, who put herself through college by working as a Verizon sales representative, is looking for a job. Her uncle, a lumberjack, has been helping her out financially.
“I want to make this my career,” she said of singing professionally. “I want to make it to the top. I feel, if you really believe in yourself, then you can make it happen. I have a lot of drive and I’m willing to work hard.”
Monday night, Martin participated in the Lincoln County Idol competition. “I made it to the finals tonight,” she told The Enterprise by phone from Nashville. The finals will take place this weekend.
“It’s a lot like the Idol competition at the Altamont Fair,” she said, “except there the judges made the decision. Here, the audience votes on the finals. But I don’t know anybody here,” Martin said with a laugh.
That cuts down her chance of winning. But, no matter. Martin concluded, “I just like to sing.”