The Musical Journey of Raquel Aurilia
The best way to embark on any creative journey is often to pick a direction and just start. From there, the people you meet and experiences you share will light the way.
This is the case for adult contemporary artist Raquel Aurilia. The Arizona-based singer’s journey began by building her network, which has since led her to open for the likes of B.B. King, Pat Benatar, Gin Blossoms, and more, including a recent 25-show run in support of former Bad English frontman John Waite.
“I started later in life because I didn’t know how to start,” Aurilia noted. “Music is a different animal. It took me a while to meet the right people.”
One of those people was Los Angeles-based producer Tony Papa, who gave Aurilia a song to record. From there, Aurilia worked collaboratively on songs from other writers, which led to the release of her first album, the appropriately-titled Finding My Way, in 2007. The album spawned the single “Feels Like,” which was Aurilia’s first taste of commercial success, going to #28 on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Chart.
From there, Aurilia looked to expand creatively by seeking out more gigs in Arizona and by expanding her network. This led her to meet Gardner Cole, a producer and songwriter who has worked with the likes of Madonna, Amy Grant, and others.
“He was like, ‘Do you want to write together?’ I was like, ‘I don’t even know if I know how to write.’”
At Gardner’s behest, Aurilia went home and started putting ideas to paper from specific memories and events. This was the beginning of Aurilia’s 2008 album, Holding On to Love, which included personal songs like “You’ll Never Know” and “Walk Away.”
“It’s always easy to draw from the sad song, because you’ve just got more to say,” Aurilia noted. “Gardner was able to put some great melodies to those songs, and those became the first two songs I ever wrote with him.”
Writing her own material with Cole’s help was an in-the-moment experience; one that Aurilia looks back on with a sense of wonderment.
“It’s almost surreal, because you’re like, ‘Did I just write that?’” Aurilia said. “It feels good to know that I can go in and write on my own, and have the confidence that I know what I‘m doing and have a lot to say.”
Learning from the best
Aurilia recalls her time spent on the road with John Waite as a valuable experience; one where she had the chance to observe a music industry veteran’s meticulous approach to his work.
“Being a part of his world and seeing how he operates to this day – to be able to watch him perform and see that he’s such a perfectionist – is really cool for me,” Aurilia said. “It’s nice to be a part of that, and to hear and watch somebody who’s on such a different level.”
Aurilia carries these lessons forward as she continues to branch out. The singer now splits her time between Scottsdale and Nashville, the latter of which has led to new inspiration in recent years.
“The people (in Nashville) are so welcoming, and I feel so at home there,” Aurilia noted. “When I go there, I feel so creative, and there’s so much talent around you.”
Naturally, Aurilia’s ties to Music City have led to more opportunities to write, collaborate, and learn.
“You have the NSAI (National Songwriter’s Association International) in Nashville that I can call and say, ‘Hey, I’m coming. Does anybody want to write?’” Aurilia said. “That way, I have more of a network to choose from.”
Meanwhile, back in Scottsdale, Aurilia continues to uncover new opportunities, finding steady collaboration on the local scene with guitarist Damian Martin.
“I do all of my gigs with him, because he and I just made a connection,” Aurilia said. “He’s amazing. He can play anything.”
Aurilia’s most recent single, “Show Me,” was released earlier this year. Written in collaboration with Michael Lattanzi of Latitude Studio South in Leiper’s Fork, TN, the single is about uncovering the true heart and soul of a new person.
“It’s about when you’re trying to get behind someone’s layers. There’s a smile there, but you really want to get to know them,” Aurilia said.
More music is on the way. Aurilia stated that she has numerous songs already completed and ready for release. The format of those releases, however, remains to be seen.
“I have enough to make an album right now, but I feel like we have gotten so far away from albums,” Aurilia said. “Because of the way the market has changed and the way the world is now, I think an EP is the better way to go.”
Before deciding on a new release, however, Aurilia remains open to sharing her message in other ways. That includes taking some of the new material and shopping it to other artists.
“I feel like some of the new songs are good enough to take to another artist,” Aurilia said. ”It would be great to have them in someone else’s hands that’s already established.”
In the meantime, Aurilia keeps working hard to perfect her craft, releasing a series of videos to YouTube where she and Martin perform originals alongside favorite covers.
“To me, visual content is really important. People want to see what you’re doing and hear how you sound,” Aurilia said. “I’m trying to juggle them, to where I can still be relevant on social media and show people that I’m working hard, even when I’m not touring.”
Watch some of Aurilia’s hard work paying off below. Also, learn more about Aurilia’s upcoming Oct. 19 house show performance in Franklin, TN alongside Erin Enderlin and Katie Cole at this link.