Local Identities

Chasing My Dreams

Rachael Noakes talks with Lynne Mowbray from the Independent about her experience as a contestant on The Voice, her life, faith, dreams and helping the community in which she lives.

Grafton’s Rachael Noakes shot into the spotlight recently after appearing as a contestant on the TV talent show, The Voice.

The 23-year-old, who works as assistant manager at Cotton On in Grafton, said that she grew up in a musical family, in Grafton.

“I’ve sung, pretty much all my life,” said Rachael.

“My father Steve sings and plays the guitar and mum Rita is very passionate [about music], but I think I inherited the musical genes from dad.

“I play both the piano and violin; however I lost my passion for the violin when I discovered my love for singing.

“My five sisters are also very musical; a couple of them play guitar and most of them play the piano.

“Growing up in Grafton, we attended both the Riverside and New Life Churches, where we performed as a family group as part of the musical team.”

Rachael attended South Grafton High School, however, she swapped to home schooling for a couple of years due to her sister Sarah’s involvement in tennis and travelling the tennis circuit with her family.

Rachael furthered her education at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), studying Bachelor of Music and minored in the ‘studies of counselling’.

“I did psychology alongside my music, which was really amazing because I was interested in doing music therapy at one point and I’m still interested in it.”

“It’s so amazing and intriguing what music can do to the brain.”

“It’s still something that I’m really interested in.”

“I’m passionate about helping people, so it’s something that I’m looking at [in the future], I just have to see how I could factor it in, especially if I want music to be [a main focus] in my life.”

Rachael performs at her EP launch.

“As part of my uni degree I had to produce an EP called Unknown, which I released two years ago in Brisbane.”

Rachael said that every year she would watch The Voice on TV and listen to the contestants’ voices and compare herself to them.

“I have always admired the courage of those who have gone on the show and experienced the judge’s approval, when they turned their chairs around during the blind auditions,” she said.

“I always doubted I was good enough to do that.

“I was lying in bed one night last year, when I saw an advertisement for applications to audition for this year’s series of The Voice.

“I felt a tug in my heart and I was like, ‘OK, Lord I’m going to give this to you’. If you want to open the door then open the door and if you don’t, then don’t.

“The first step was applying online and you had to send in a little video.

“Mine was just an Instagram video that I had previously made. I didn’t put any hardcore effort into it, I really just left it up to God to open the door and then I kind of forgot about it.

“A couple of weeks went by and I got an email saying congratulations you have got a face to face audition out of hundreds and hundreds of people that have auditioned online.“I didn’t have words to describe how [wonderful] that made me feel.

“I thought ‘yes’ this is a step in the right direction. I’ve always wanted music but I’ve never really chased it, until now.

“I think I was always too scared to chase it.”

The blind auditions for The Voice aired in May this year with Rachael choosing to sing the Delta Goodrem hit song Dear Life, which she performed before a panel of four judges; her idol Delta Goodrem, Kelly Rowland, Boy George and Seal.

As Delta turned her chair around, a nervous Rachael briefly forgot her words, but managed to cover her mistake well. She later told Delta (tongue in cheek) ‘no one will ever know’, to which Delta replied: ‘well I know!’

Rachael described her performance as being like an ‘out of body experience’.

“It was like my soul just left my body and was watching me on the stage. I saw Delta turn around and then I was watching myself forget the lyrics and I was like, ‘oh my God what are you doing!’!

“I don’t know how to describe it, but I honestly watched myself forget the lyrics.”

Rachael later wrote on her Facebook page, “I may have forgotten the lyrics, but I’ll never forget this feeling.”

Rachael made it through to the next stage, the knockout round, singing Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself, but failed to secure a win or a ‘steal’ to remain in the competition.

Rachael said that she loved every second of her experience.

“It was an amazing experience meeting the crew and the other artists. I honestly wouldn’t change it for the world,” she said.

“Everyone keeps asking me what my plans are now and I think I’m still trying to find the answer to that.

“One thing I am focusing on is getting my confidence up and seizing every opportunity that comes my way. Whether it is interviews or gigs, whatever pops up. I also need to work on making my own opportunities.

“I want to get more involved within the community here in Grafton; like getting involved with the Jacaranda Festival,” Rachael said, smiling broadly.

Rachael has just nominated as a Jacaranda Queen candidate.

“Although I know a lot of people in Grafton, I don’t really know them.

“Apart from work, I don’t have much interaction with the community and, as a candidate, this will give me more opportunities
to do that.

“My mum is involved a lot within the community and I think that it would be really good for me to get more involved and meet more people and try and make a difference.”

Rachael hopes to use the next 12 months to boost her confidence levels and to grow within herself.

“I’m interested in having another go at The Voice next year, but I’m still thinking about it at this stage.

Rachael Noakes performs on stage during the live auditions on The Voice. Image: Courtesy ITV Studios

“I need to show that I have grown over the twelve months and then who knows, I may go further.

“At the moment I’m just going to concentrate on writing as many songs as I can.”

Writing has helped Rachael to express herself more, through her music.

“If I’m feeling something I try and just write it down, to try and get it out of my system. It may not be a really good song, but it helps me to cope, by getting those feeling out.

“I totally believe 100-per-cent that God has given me this gift for a reason and a purpose and for a season as well.

“For example; With Grafton‘s high suicide rate, I would never have thought that my personal journey on The Voice could impact on people.

“When people saw me having the courage to chase my dreams by going on The Voice, they would go up to my mother and say that it was wonderful to see something good coming out of Grafton, to take away the focus on the bad things that had happened and give hope to our young people.

“I’ve had young girls especially, come up to me and say, ‘you know if you can do it, maybe I can do it.’

“The other day I had a mother with her primary school aged daughter come in to work.

“As they were leaving the mum said to me, ‘It was good to see your courage [by being a contestant on The Voice] and it gives little girls like mine hope and courage to maybe do it themselves one day.’

“It was a precious thing for that lady to say.

“It makes you feel good that you could be a positive role model in the community and I believe that God gave me this opportunity for a reason and a purpose.”

“No matter what I do in life, I want to use my gifts ‘For Good and for God’ – I don’t want to use them just willy-nilly and let life pass me by.