Rachel McCutcheon is quickly becoming one of my favorite current songwriters. Discovered by writer/producer Wayne Haun, she has been contributing a plethora of well-penned fresh tunes to new releases by some of southern gospel’s best artists. Recently, she graciously agreed to answer some interview questions from me. I hope you enjoy this conversation!
When did you first begin to write songs? Were there any particular writers or musicians that you admired?
I first remember writing songs at six or seven years old, but I was twelve before I ever dared to let anyone hear them. 🙂
Growing up, I remember particularly liking songs with “out of the ordinary chords” in them. Two writers that influenced my writing in this way are Jim E. Davis and Wayne Haun. It has been a special treat to co-write with both of them these last few years.
What kind of music inspires you to write? What sparks creative inspiration generally?
I like a variety of musical styles. Usually whichever style I am listening to at the moment tends to spark inspiration in that vein.
Pretty much anything can spark creativity for me…..a conversation, a song, a sermon, simply living life. Inspiration is everywhere! I just try to keep my ears open for that new hook line or idea.
How long did it take to get your first professional cut? You seem to have really burst on the scene in the past few years!
I got my first cut in May of 2010, so 9 months after meeting Wayne Haun. The song was “Daddy’s Little Girl” on Ryan Seaton’s first solo project.
How did you connect with Wayne Haun and Stowtown Records?
I met Wayne in August of 2009, at an Ernie Haase and Signature Sound concert in Little Rock, AR. A friend of mine approached Wayne at the product table, told him I was a songwriter, that I loved his productions and asked if he would give me a moment of his time. He graciously agreed, so we met and chatted about songwriting and producing for a few minutes. My friend insisted on showing him a lyric to one of my songs, “Whenever We Pray” and my sisters and I sang it for him A cappella. He totally surprised me by giving me his personal contact information, along with an invitation to send him songs. I started doing that, and in 2010 I signed as a staff songwriter for Sunset Gallery Music, a publishing company co-owned by Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey. Wayne is also my connection to Stowtown Records, which was founded in 2011 by Wayne Haun and Ernie Haase. So, Wayne is my publisher, and also the producer for the majority of the Stowtown recording artists. I’ve been blessed to have a number of my tunes land on these Stowtown projects.
The Collingsworth Family is putting out a new project with eight of your songs on it. Which of them was your favorite, and can you talk a bit about the writing process?
I’m honestly not sure which is my favorite, but I am particularly fond of “Saints Love To Sing About Heaven”. I love writing about Heaven . . . it intrigues me. The Bible contains some amazing text painting about it, but as the song’s opening line says, “It’s hard to describe somewhere I’ve never been”. So rather than focus on the incredible beauty there that I haven’t seen yet, I wrote about what heaven means for me personally. “It thrills my heart to know there is a place, reserved just for me at the table of grace . . . The old will be young and the weak will be well”. . . What a place, this “sweet land of all the forgiven”! I can hardly wait to experience it for myself!
Now, name an all-time personal favorite song that you did NOT write.
Champion Of Love by the Cathedrals on their Symphony of Praise project.
Of the artists who haven’t recorded your work yet (and their number is shrinking!) who would you be most thrilled to get a cut with?
The Gaither Vocal Band! They were one of my all-time favorite groups growing up and I still enjoy listening to them.
What is your most memorable co-writing experience?
This past July, I was writing with Tony Wood at Word in Nashville. Tony said, “I have this idea that I love and I’ve tried three times to write, but I just can’t get it to fit in the pocket.” He had a few scratches on this tiny blue sticky note stuck to his legal pad. When he told me the hook, “Unexpected Places”, I couldn’t help but smile. I had been working on a song with that same title a few months earlier and had taken some notes on it, but hadn’t finished. We were maybe five minutes into working on it together and Tony said, “This is it. This is gonna fit in the pocket.” The song came together very quickly and both of us absolutely love it. It hasn’t been cut yet . . . but I plan to demo it this weekend so we can pitch it!
Any final words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Songwriting is a process . . . enjoy it. Learn all you can about the craft . . . but allow yourself to be creative. Every songwriter’s story is different, so don’t compare your songwriting journey or success with anyone else’s. Work hard, trust God and let Him take you on the journey of His choice. He knows where you need to be, who you need to work with and He is able set it all up in His time.