Where Her Heart Lies ...
As the first woman ever featured on the cover of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, guitarist, singer, and songwriter Rebecca Frazier has crafted a career doing what she loves. From traditional music to influences such as The Grateful Dead, Frazier seems well aware of where her heart lies.
"I've always loved acoustic and traditional music," she explained. "As a kid, I'd sing old songs at a summer camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains and connected with bluegrass musicians in college. It was hearing Tony Rice and then Jerry Garcia's work with David Grisman…those were the lightning moments that made me drop everything else and dedicate myself to this music. And nothing has changed! I'm still dedicated to bluegrass after all of these years."
Frazier plays it. She teaches it. She writes it. She writes about it. She listens to it.
"I live and breathe this music," she said. "I just love it."
Frazier said over the past year, she's worked "to finalize the mixing and mastering" of her first album in a number of years. As of now, it's slated for a release sometime during late spring of this year.
"The record features my songwriting and flatpicking and a host of A-list musicians," she said. "This record also includes details that are new for me…some tracks will offer my clawhammer banjo playing and a string section arranged by myself and producer Bill Wolf."
"I've been really focused on this project and can't wait to get it out into the world," she said.
Frazier understands the importance of visuals; she enjoys creating videos for her music.
"In the past few years, I've found great creativity in putting my music to video," she explained. "I have six cinematic videos released for my previous album and at least three more coming for my new album."
Lately, The Grateful Dead's music has again become prominent in her life.
"My dad had a great record collection, and he introduced me to The Grateful Dead when I was a kid. I was instantly hooked," she reminisced. "I was in a Grateful Dead-inspired band in college, so I've been singing and playing Dead songs as long as I've been playing bluegrass. Recently I've been lucky to connect with local musicians who are also inspired by this legacy, and I've especially enjoyed listening to my producer, Bill Wolf, tell stories about his work with the Dead as we've worked together on this new record."
Before seeing herself as a music act unto herself, Frazier toured for many years with her band, Hit & Run. It took a while before she saw herself as a solo artist.
"It never occurred to me that anyone would think twice about me as a solo artist or guitar player," she said. Then, Flatpicking Guitar Magazine decided to put her on their cover because she was essentially "the first woman out there touring full-time as a bluegrass flatpicker. "Looking back, it never occurred to me that I was a 'trailblazer' in this way. I was definitely too busy touring and rehearsing to notice or think about that. But people mention it to me now, and I appreciate the recognition for my work."
Just as her father's record collection influenced Frazier's life as a musician, she seems to be handing down this passion for music as well; her kids have embraced it in a big way.
"Both of my kids started fiddling in 2018 through a wonderful program founded by Meredith Watson, Nashville School of Traditional Country Music," Frazier said. "I took the fiddle class with them, so I could help them to practice at home. It's been rewarding to see their progress as they absorb the canon of old-time and bluegrass traditions."
"When I took them to a bluegrass concert recently, they were singing along with all of the songs! I brought them both to New York when I taught at the Ashokan Center this summer, and they were thrilled to play 'Ashokan Farewell' with Jay Ungar, the composer of the tune," she explained. "Yet my biggest thrill has been working up three-part harmonies and performing bluegrass gospel with them at church, gigs, and retirement communities. Their voices blend with mine, and they have an ear for my vocal innuendoes."
"However, I think they probably won't fully appreciate these experiences until they are older," she added. "Right now, it's just daily life for them."