2015 NewSong grand prize winner Rachel Kilgour returns to Lincoln Center
Rachael Kilgour stunned NewSong judges in 2015 with her passionate delivery of provocative songs that effortlessly blend artistry and activism. Her performance earned her the winning spot in last year’s competition, and that means Kilgour will return to Lincoln Center, along with fellow 2015 NewSong finalist Blair Bodine, on Thursday, September 8th.
Kilgour says that above all else, the NewSong Music competition was a way for her to reach new listeners and grow as a writer and performer. “We try to get better and better at communicating our human experience, and we try to find the right people to share it with,” says Kilgour. “That is our job as artists.”
Kilgour has also been hard at work recording over the past year and is eager to share her latest album, Rabbit in the Road. We took some time to talk to the Minnesota-based songwriter to learn more about her life since last year’s win and her upcoming album release.
What about you upcoming show at Lincoln Center are you most excited about?
I am looking forward to returning to the Lincoln Center on September 8th and so happy that Blair will be joining me! I am feeling pretty fortunate for the opportunity and so glad that I will be able to share my new album with the audience. There is quite a lot of nuance that goes into an artist’s performance, and there is something kind of jarring about picking your top three songs to share for a contest. It will be good to have the chance to move from song to song in an organic way — to tell a story.
It’s great to see you sharing the bill with last year’s NewSong finalist Blair Bodine. Are there any other relationships you have made through NewSong that have stayed with you?
I think one of the most beneficial relationships I have gained through this experience is the one I have formed with Gar Ragland, the President of NewSong. Since January, Gar has put so much time and energy into helping me complete this album and plan for its release, and he has also introduced me to a number of influential people in the industry. I am so grateful to know him. I’ve also stayed in touch with a number of the other finalists since the contest, and I think we have all benefitted from those connections.
Part of your prize was performing at the ASCAP Music Cafe at the Sundance Film Festival. What was that like for you?
Attending Sundance and performing at the ASCAP Music Cafe was an incredible experience. First off, I was so grateful for the opportunity to experience the festival itself. There was such respect for filmmaking as an art form in that setting — it was very encouraging. Having the chance to share my work with a brand new audience is always a gift, but performing on that particular stage was quite an honor. The listeners were engaged and seemed to really understand my performance, and that is all I care about at the end of the day.
Did anything about the NewSong competition surprise you?
I was surprised to win, certainly! But I was also surprised by the amount of support NewSong offered each of the finalists and how well they maintained relationships with previous winners and finalists after all of these years. I think NewSong is doing a lot of important work to connect emerging artists with resources and with each other.