For Rachel Reinert, Being Brave Comes With Its Own Set Of Risks — And Rewards

“It’s not easy ... when it comes to following your heart.”

I bought my first house when I was just 24 years old. A 2,300-square-foot, beautiful new-construction, three-bedroom physical representation of all my hard work and pride. It appeared from the outside that my life was on a steady upward trajectory, but deep down I always felt something missing.

My career leading up to that point had been chock full of ups and downs, excitement, disappointment, joy, and pain. The band I was in at the time, Gloriana, had seen a lot of successes. In short, we won awards, earned gold and platinum records, performed at the White House, saw the world, and got to tour with some of the biggest artists out there. But we also had to weather a lot of storms and downfalls together. I was 26 when I reached the biggest crossroads of my life: to stay or to leave. The band I had been in since I was 18 years old, the focal point of my entire adult life, was losing steam and things were massively slowing down for us. Like I said, we had faced many challenges before, but for the first time in about eight years, I really forced myself to recognize where my heart truly was all along. I knew it was time for me to walk away from it all and go solo.

Photo Credit: Madi Clark
Photo Credit: Madi Clark

To rewind back, I graduated high school and moved to Nashville after signing a publishing deal at age 16. I spent the next two years writing songs and performing around town. I was on the verge of having to move back to where I grew up in California because every attempt I had made at landing a record deal fell flat. My publishing deal had ended, I was broke, and going nowhere FAST. I never once imagined myself as anything other than a solo artist, so it was an ironic twist of fate when the opportunity to be in the band came to me —just two weeks before almost having to leave Nashville. It wasn't exactly how I pictured things for myself, but I quickly adapted and grew to really love it. Looking back on it now, I can't imagine my life without Gloriana. I learned SO much about the music business, songwriting, performing, touring, radio, etc. I mean it when I say that it was an amazing journey and a massive part of my life that shaped me into who I am today, and I will always be eternally grateful for it. 

My decision to leave the band wasn't an easy one, but it felt necessary for me. I was leaving behind what had become a very comfortable situation with a label, a team, a tour bus, and a steady income. Truth be told, I probably could have stayed in it for a while longer while I figured out my path as a solo artist, however, I'm not a one-foot-out, one-foot-in type of person. If I make a decision about something, I believe it has to come with 100 percent, full unwavering commitment, especially if you want successful results in return. Big risk = big reward. If I was going to become the best version of myself, and grow as an artist and a human, I had to roll the dice, be uncomfortable, let everything from my past go, and start fresh. I made my choice to leave in August of 2015. I immediately told my bandmates and team, finished out the year of touring and band commitments, and publicly announced my departure in January 2016.

I'll be really transparent about what came next. I thought that all of the accomplishments from my past with Gloriana were going to translate into huge opportunities for me as a solo artist. I was very wrong about that. 2016 was a hard year full of harsh realities. I broke down and cried a lot. A vast majority of the people who I thought would be there for me and help with this transition could no longer be reached. Most of the songwriters I worked with in the past didn't have time for me anymore or would cancel our scheduled writing session either the night before or day of once word go out that I no longer had a record deal. I couldn't get people to keep their meetings with me. I was on an endless loop of people either falsely promising to reschedule, or ignoring me completely. In the very few meetings I was able to secure with industry people, I was led to believe that they were going to work with me, but then they'd disappear when I'd follow up with them. To add on to all of that, I was running out of money. I eventually had to put my beloved house up for sale. Basically, I was knocked way down, rejected almost daily, and my ego was put in check. I thought about giving up on my music career more times than I'd like to admit, but there was this little voice inside constantly telling me to keep going.

Once I sold my house, I felt a huge weight lift off of my shoulders. I realized that it was just this material "thing" that I never should have put so much of my self-worth and value into. In March 2017, I moved into a cute little 1,000-square-foot 1930s stone cottage, as a renter, which was humbling and also the greatest blessing. I was forced to get rid of a lot and simplify my life. I went through a massive spiritual transformation. I spent A LOT of time alone — visualizing, meditating, writing, and reflecting. I focused on getting clear about what kind of life/career I want to have and the kind of music I want to create. I also traveled a lot. I took the kind of trips I never would allow myself to take in the past, and I became more connected and present with my family than ever before. I felt a sense of normalcy that had been unfamiliar to me as an adult.

Photo Credit: Madi Clark
Photo Credit: Madi Clark

My heart slowly began to open up in ways I never knew were possible. That openness combined with the freedom from surrendering to the process led me to my people — the songwriters that came into my life who were willing to work with me because they simply believed in me, and my manager who saw something in me that no one else could. I lost a lot of "friends" along the way, which was hurtful, but I made a lot of new ones and held onto those who stood by my side. I gained a whole new outlook and perspective on life, which greatly influenced and inspired my music, which helped me to find my confidence and belief in myself. All of this led me to writing an album's worth of songs that I am so proud of, that reflects every part of who I am. And it's all because I found myself through this journey. The craziest thing is that it all began with my desire for a fresh start and to become the best version of myself, but I never could have guessed that this is how it would all come to be for me. I was forced to slow down, become strong, and grow up. The universe is infinitely wise.

I by no means have it all figured out just yet, or a whole new list of accomplishments to tell you about today. But I am getting ready to finally release my first single as a solo artist at the end of July, which is so exciting because it means that I'm on the verge of yet another new chapter. I'm confidently optimistic about the future and I'm ready for whatever comes next. Through the hardships of the last two and a half years, I found my voice and I feel happier and more fulfilled than ever. That's really all that matters to me at the end of the day. I have had to overcome some tough times, but I'm thankful for this growing, learning, very human experience. I also realize I'm not alone and there are many people out there facing the same or even more adversities in life. It's not easy to be brave, especially when it comes to following your heart, but if there's any takeaway to be had from all of this, it's that you should never ever give up on your dreams and the constant search for the absolute best that is in you.

With love,

Rachel Reinert

You can listen to Rachel's brand-new song "Cool" below:

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