Acclaimed Songwriter Rachael Kilgour Raises Social Awareness Through Personal Reflection

CSU & LGBT Center Host April 1

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See Q&A with Rachael Kilgour at end of story.

Watch Video of Rabbit In The Road

“Rachael Kilgour is folk music’s Next Big Thing…the finest purveyor of tear-jerkers to emerge from northern Minnesota since Bob Dylan.” – Minneapolis Star Tribune

Acclaimed Duluth singer/songwriter, Rachael Kilgour views songwriting as making sense of feelings. Bringing her “unapologetic lyrics” to stage April 1 seeks the common bond of human experience.

“We are all beautiful and messed up and deserving of love,” Kilgour said. “I hope that by sharing some of my tender spots it will help others take time to look at their own and learn to be kinder to themselves.” 

On Monday, April 1, Kilgour brings her musical songwriting talents to Minnesota State University, Mankato, for a day-time performance. Kilgour will perform from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Centennial Student Union’s lower level Flex Programming Space.

Presented by the CSU Serendipity Music Series in collaboration with the LGBT Center, the event is free and open to the public.

The 2015 grand prize winner at the NewSong Music Performance & Songwriting Competition, Kilgour delivers to the stage powerful and poetic songs that chronicle her life as a young parent in a same-sex partnership and address sociopolitical issues while tugging on the heartstrings of her listeners.

RACHAEL KILGOUR
photo by Darin Kamnetz

‘After the show they tell me about someone they lost or someone they found or what they are afraid of. I feel pretty blessed to share those moments with strangers. It’s an incredible job.’ – Rachael Kilgour

Ravelin Magazine described her ability as the “sort of metonymic ability to evoke the whole of someone or the entirety of a feeling is typical of Kilgour’s poetic songwriting” while Billboard magazine calls Kilgour’s talents, “a heartfelt slice of master crafted indie folk brimming with the battle-tested capacity to endure the worst in others.”

Kilgour’s most heartfelt songs came following her divorce. Her song, Rabbit in the Road, delivers an intimate and painful look at her failed marriage, while “Mama” summons the tearful aftermath of divorce that separated her from her step-daughter.

In November 2018, Kilgour’s single “Holy Are We” was selected among Rolling Stone magazine’s 10 best country and Americana songs of the week.

“’If my greatest sin is to love her well, you can send me to hell,’ Rachael Kilgour sings, turning this acoustic ballad into a stunning defense of same-sex love,” Rolling Stone stated. “…Kilgour’s unapologetic lyrics are the real treat, taking an unapologetically personal look at the ways in which ignorant outsiders can mistake something sacred for blasphemy.”

Kilgour said her songwriting is therapeutic, but bringing her message to the stage is “where the magic is.”

“Sometimes when I’m singing I’ll look out into an audience and catch the eye of someone who really gets it,” she added. “They see me and I see them back. And maybe we both tear up a little or maybe after the show they tell me about someone they lost or someone they found or what they are afraid of. I feel pretty blessed to share those moments with strangers. It’s an incredible job.”

Learn more about Rachael Kilgour: http://www.flemingartists.com/artists/rachael-kilgour

The CSU Serendipity Music Series offers an ongoing schedule of performances throughout the academic year that spotlight Minnesota musicians. Hosted in the CSU, the free two-hour, mid-day, weekday “street-corner serenade” exposes the campus and Mankato community to a range of music genres.

INTERVIEW WITH RACHAEL KILGOUR

by ABIGAIL SKAALERUD, CSU Public Relations Intern

What inspires you as a songwriter?

RACHAEL: I like to say the things I am afraid of, question who I am and why, notice patterns…I kind of feel like more of a journalist than an artist in some ways. I’m curious about how to be a good human and how to live a good life, so my songs often examine moral ideas and how small interactions/relationships are reflective of larger systemic issues.

Your songwriting speaks from the heart. Were you ever afraid of singing about your personal life?

RACHAEL: I actually feel pretty safe and supported being vulnerable on a stage. It seems like important work – I think we are all a little lonely and guarded and the act of revealing yourself is kind of radical and can inspire profound healing. The only times I have hesitated in my vulnerability are the times when my life intersected with someone else’s. It is a difficult thing, learning how to share your truth and trust that the other people involved can handle hearing it.

How has music helped you through the tough times in your past that you have chosen to write about?

RACHAEL: Songwriting is the way I sort my feelings and experiences and make sense of everything. It gives me a great sense of relief to take a complicated thought or feeling, a traumatic event, and put words to it. After my divorce I did a lot of processing through songwriting – I found that I slept better at night each time I wrote a new song.

Do you think you represent a unique voice for the LGBT community?

RACHAEL: I suppose everyone of us does! I personally was very fortunate to be raised in a family and community that accepted my sexuality. I came out in high school, gay-married right out of college and raised a kid in a same-sex family without ever thinking twice. I recognize that my experience is a privileged one. I think, especially because of that, I have a responsibility to speak about my life and the women I have loved from the stage. The song Holy Are We off my new EP does that quite well, I think.

What do you want your audience, particularly those from the LGBT community, to take away from your music?

RACHAEL: I hope that every listener takes away some kind of affirmation from my performances. We are all beautiful and messed up and deserving of love. I hope that by sharing some of my tender spots it will help others take time to look at their own and learn to be kinder to themselves.

What is your personal favorite song of yours and why?

RACHAEL: Picking a favorite song feels like naming a favorite child – impossible! Three of them stand out at the moment, but one that I continually come back to is Rabbit in the Road. It was the last song I wrote in processing my divorce and it reminds me over and over that forgiveness is possible and messy and that it is ok to trust yourself and have clear boundaries.

Have you found a type of healing through your music?

RACHAEL: Absolutely. As I said earlier, the writing itself is very therapeutic, but I think that sharing the songs is where the magic is. Sometimes when I’m singing I’ll look out into an audience and catch the eye of someone who really gets it. They see me and I see them back. And maybe we both tear up a little or maybe after the show they tell me about someone they lost or someone they found or what they are afraid of. I feel pretty blessed to share those moments with strangers. It’s an incredible job.

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Upcoming Events

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Welcome back Mavericks! All of us here at the Centennial Student Union hope you enjoyed your winter break. Now that you’re back, here’s what’s coming up the rest of this week! We hope to see you at a few of these events:

Thursday, Jan. 17

  • Hound Hugs & Kanine Kisses
    • Lincoln Lounge – 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Music Mash-Up: Karaoke, Mocktails & Live Performance from Icarus Account
    • Bullpen – 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Stomper’s Cinema: “Boy Erased”
    • Ostrander Auditorium – 7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 18

  • Women’s Basketball vs Minnesota Duluth
    • Bresnan Arena – 5:30 p.m.
  • Stomper’s Cinema: “Boy Erased”
    • Ostrander Auditorium – 7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.
  • Men’s Hockey vs Lake Superior State
    • Verizon Center – 7:07 p.m.
  • Men’s Basketball vs Minnesota Duluth
    • Bresnan Arena – 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 19

  • Women’s Basketball vs St. Cloud State
    • Bresnan Arena – 3:30 p.m.
  • Men’s Basketball vs St. Cloud State
    • Bresnan Arena – 5:30 p.m.
  • Stomper’s Cinema: “Boy Erased”
    • Ostrander Auditorium – 7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.
  • Men’s Hockey vs Lake Superior State
    • Verizon Center – 7:07 p.m.

Monday, Jan 21. – Martin Luther King Jr. Day, No Classes

  • MLK Day of Service
    • CSU MavAve 1 p.m to 4 p.m.
  • MLK Community Celebration Banquet w/ Guest Speaker Rev. Dr. Lue Powery
    • CSU Ballroom – 5:30 p.m.

CSU Serendipity Music Series Welcomes The OK Factor Dec. 11

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The OK Factor, a cello-violin duo, will offer a break from Finals Week and help welcome in the holiday season with a Tuesday, Dec. 11, free performance from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Centennial Student Union Hearth Lounge.

Free hot chocolate will be available in the Hearth Lounge while supply lasts.

 As part of the CSU Finals Week Stressbusters, the CSU Serendipity Music Series performance features Olivia Diercks and Karla Colahan, cellist and violinist performing a unique “genre-bending” string performance that the duo labels as new-classical crossover. The ease with which they write and perform has caught the attention of the Minnesota music community where they were named finalists for the prestigious McKnight Fellowships for Musicians in 2018.

 The duo returns for their second December StressBusters performance after a 2017 Serendipity Music Series debut that featured their newly-released holiday CD entitled Have Yourself An OK Christmas. This year’s performance comes as the duo prepares to release their fourth CD – Love, The OK Factor – offering a selection of lullabies and love songs.

CSU Features Celtic Songs by Lehto & Wright

St. Patty’s Primer: Serendipity Music Series Welcomes Guitar Masters March 14

Just in time for a St. Patty’s Day primer, Minnesota guitar masters Lehto and Wright bring their traditional Celtic and American folk/rock sound to their first appearance with the Centennial Student Union Serendipity Music Series.

The duo’s free two-hour daytime performance will be Wednesday, March 14, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the CSU’s Lower Level Flex Programming Space.

According to Dirty Linen, the national newsfeed for folk and world music, Steve Lehto and John Wright are “.. among North America’s best practitioners of Anglo-Celtic folk-rock… wonderfully intricate, powerful guitar-driven music…”

Lehto and Wright’s accomplished twin guitar/mandolin approach features “unplugged” song sets ranging from Irish tunes to American spirituals. Their musical style, shaped by such influences as Jethro Tull, Miles Davis and King Crimson, challenges the boundaries of the traditional Folk genre.

The CSU’s ongoing Serendipity Music Series is a mid-day, mid-week, “street corner serenade” series that seeks to expose students, the campus and the Mankato community to a range of genres by Minnesota musicians. Lenny Koupal, coordinator of the series, said it was “serendipity” to come upon Lehto and Wright.

“Lehto and Wright came recommended by Tim Cheesebrow, a Twin Cities singer/songwriter who performed here in January,” Koupal said. “What a pleasant surprise to find Celtic music was in their wheelhouse and they were available for a daytime, pre-St. Patty’s gig. Two hours of free, top-notch tunes should help set the Irish mood and once-again expose our community to the wealth of talent among Minnesota musicians.”