Date: 05/14/2012 Print This Post





The Classically Trained Vocalist’s Soon To Be Released Debut
Video Will Be Featured Nationally At Popular Chain
Stores Like Forever 21 and Foot Locker 

Up and coming 19-year-old singer-songwriter Lexa Raquel lists a pretty dynamic array of musical greats that have influenced her over the years—everyone from soulful singers Beyoncé and Billie Holiday to classical greats Beethoven, Brahms and Mendelssohn to funk legends Earth, Wind & Fire, Ohio Players and Jamiroquai.

But one look in her room and you know who her real hero is: Wonder Woman. The DC Comics superheroine is on Raquel’s blanket and posters all over the wall. The singer has outfits, keychains, cups, bracelets—almost like she’s ready to open a Wonder Woman memorabilia shop.

The multi-talented Tucson born and raised performer may not be able to deflect bullets with her wrists and save the world from Axis military forces and supervillains, but musically, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to compare her to her favorite superhero–or declare that she’s “One of a Kind,” the name of her self-penned debut single on Desert Sol Records.

Raquel auditioned for the Arizona Opera Company at age three and sang her first solo at 5; she began playing guitar, trumpet and piano in fifth grade, and started writing her own music shortly thereafter. She’s sung in church choirs, gone on mission trips to build homes in Mexicali and on local Indian Reservations and worked part time as a Zumba instructor at a local gym, teaching Latin dance inspired fitness to local women.

A former Associate Youth Music Director at her church, she has taken first and second place for vocal performance in her denomination’s district Fine Arts Festival and plans to compete on a national level. During her senior year in high school, she coordinated a benefit concert for Honor Flight, a program which funds trips for World War II veterans to visit the WWII Memorial in Washington, DC.

Currently a freshman on a full music scholarship at the University of Arizona, the 19-year-old singer songwriter is pulling off a superhuman feat (for an indie artist) with the fast rising “One of a Kind”; sharing chart space with superstars like Radiohead, Justin Bieber, The Wanted and Lionel Richie/Shania Twain’s Endless Love” on the Billboard Hot Singles Sales Chart.

The soulful pop track, inspired by thoughts of her grandfather (a WWII vet) on the one year anniversary of his passing, made its debut on the chart at #19. The video for the song, which she recently shot in Fresno, California, will soon be featured nationwide on the in-store media systems at Foot Locker and Forever 21.

Even Wonder Woman needs help saving the world sometimes—or at least in the writing and recording department. Raquel is currently working on her debut album for the label with renowned Tucson based musicians Kelvin Lewis (also her producer and musical director for live gigs) and guitarist Jonathan Thomas—who performed at her show and will be permanent parts of her band when she tours. For the past few years, she has developed a dynamic ongoing student mentor relationship with former American Idol finalist Crystal Stark.

“Not surprisingly, my songwriting is influenced by Wonder Woman as well,” she says. “She’s a feminist symbol and I am very much into writing songs about empowering women and promoting the importance of the concept whenever possible. Other songs are about my life and where I’ve been and where I’m going, plus dance tunes, funk stuff—a lot of different elements. The soulful pop element that the single has is shaping up as the dominant vibe. Sometimes I write songs from scratch on the acoustic guitar without starting with beats, and other times I work from grooves that Kelvin and Jonathan come up with first. I love working with them. They’re super soulful musicians and great people to work with.”

A total self-starter, Raquel was starting to gain some traction for her homemade acoustic-driven YouTube videos (one of Alicia Keys’ “Unthinkable” and the other an original called “All of Me”) and Facebook and ReverbNation pages when she hooked up with upstart label Desert Sol Records via her friend Tristan Tully—a local rapper who goes by the name “Apostle.” The singer and Tully had a unique barter system: she would sing on his tracks for free studio time to record her own material.

“The folks at Desert Sol liked what they heard and presented me with a track to write a melody and lyrics to, that was created by (renowned California studio owner and producer) Sean Devine,” she says. “I spent something like 12 hours in a room with Tristan and my best friend. I had just finished a paid gig and a singing competition and I was feeling overwhelmed vocally and mentally, but they helped me stay cool and encouraged me every step of the process. The year anniversary of the death of my grandfather was prevalent in my mind, so when we started thinking of ideas to write about, it made sense to compose the song as a tribute to him. I came up with this idea based on how he could go anywhere with anyone, engage in any situation and have fun no matter where he was or what he was doing.”

Raquel is especially excited to work with so many talented musical collaborators because, even as her talent was primed to explode in her earlier teens, she attended a private high school with a music program she felt was lacking. “I never had a connection with anyone at school who understood where I was coming from musically, or what my ambitions were,” she says. “So it’s a privilege to be working with some of the greatest musicians in Tucson, whom I vibe with so smoothly. Kelvin and Jonathan are great motivators and I have a team in Desert Sol Records that truly believes in me.”

Although she has attended, sung and served in church all her life, simply making a difference in the world and doing well by others is what’s most important to Raquel. Just as Wonder Woman was motivated by justice and overcoming evil with good, she uses music as her “weapon” to conquer the hearts of all those who listen to her song on the radio or see her perform live.

“I take the craft of music very seriously,” she says, “but the most important thing is to have fun. Making music together is supposed to be fun, enjoyable and entertaining. It’s all about bringing the joy to people. And if I can help someone in some way with my music, I’ve accomplished my goal. If there’s any way to touch someone, in any way possible, with a song, that’s the most fulfilling aspect of this journey for me.”