Rachel Thompson


Image Jasper Van Gheluwe

Image Jasper Van Gheluwe

Singing is something that I have simply always done. As a child I was gently taught by my aunt and encouraged by my family (especially my mum who was a piano teacher). I don't remember much about my first performance at a local music festival at the age of four, but from then on, performing regularly was a normal part of my life – something which I didn't have to think about too much because it felt so natural to me.

And so it seemed a natural step to go on to study music at University. While I had a wonderful time in a lot of ways, I didn't have the right teacher and that combined with some health problems made me question whether professional performing was really for me. I lost all of my confidence with singing and so I decided to train as an accountant after my degree, and singing became something I did in my spare time.

Yet I still had an uneasiness at the back of my mind, a desire to return to that place I'd been in as a child, a place where singing gave me such pleasure.

Around 2010 I decided it was time to move back towards music. I gave up my office job and went into full-time singing and piano teaching. I had been listening to Anúna for many years and loved the way Michael's music was constructed, how the harmonies worked and how the singers sang in such a natural way. I'd been singing in choirs for years and I expected that being in Anùna would be like being in any other choir. I couldn't have been more wrong.

For a while, singing with no music and no conductor made me feel exposed, but the more experience I gained, the more I realised what it was I had been missing out on for years. I had been so caught up with listening to the voice in my head, constantly criticising and undermining my own ability, that I had forgotten how natural singing should be, something a child could do with no effort. Focusing on communicating stories directly to the audience using my own natural voice started me on a journey of reconnecting with the innate singer I felt I had lost. And I learned to listen and connect with the other singers on stage in a way I hadn't experienced before.

Anúna has given me some of the most profoundly moving moments I've had as a singer and sharing our collective voice with audiences around the world is an enormous privilege.