Born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin, musician Rachelle Koshen is no stranger to the music scene in Racine.
In the 1980s, Koshen was a part of the hippie counterculture and traveled out west. This adventure was filled with the opportunity to play music with friends. Living in California, she was hitchhiking alongside the road one day when a Christian man picked her up. He helped lead her on a spirit-filled endeavor.
“These years were when music clicked for me, and I gained the confidence and experience that is the foundation of my music,” she said.
For 12 years, she wrote over 100 worship songs and performed on Sundays for a couple of hours. Life had more plans in store for Koshen. In 2007, she made her way to Racine to be near her sister, who lived and worked for the Montessori School in Racine.
Traveling and her spiritual journey ignited a fire within her soul, this was not the start of her love for the arts. In true Wisconsin fashion, Koshen’s Grandpa played accordion in a Polka band. She was eager as a child to step foot on the stage when she saw him play. She found her place in the band when she started playing the spoons. Koshen’s dad kept her one-of-a-kind instrument in the back of the VW bus.
She played with them when given a chance. There is no doubt that Koshen’s family had a strong influence in her musical upbringing. Her dad always listened to Country-Western tunes. Starting in the 2nd grade with the nuns at her Catholic school, she took piano lessons. These lessons continued throughout high school. Her intuition back then still reigns through her today: play the music that gives feeling and find the good in music.
As a senior in high school, she and her sister started guitar lessons. Knowing how to play the piano helped her to read music for the guitar.
“Since I knew how to read music, I learned the whole book in one night and wanted to learn more,” Koshen said.
When she attended UW-Milwaukee that following fall, it led her to a guitar at a garage sale. This guitar was vital in writing her first song, “Sunshine on a Sunday.” She wrote the song on the porch of her flat. She jammed at the open mic every Wednesday night at the bar next to her flat, the campus coffee shop, open mics, and with friends. Her friends were always in good company, but her boyfriend, whom she met in Milwaukee, whose brother and Dad, the Hafermans from Maine, were well-known bluegrass musicians who helped influence her musical style. That style is still prevalent in her music today. Rachelle credits the time she spent with them.
“You can hear the bluegrass from the years I hung out with the Haferman boys in college,” she said.
Her band of two years, Rocky Rose, is a four-piece all original Americana band. Steve Comeau on the drums, Gordon Smith on bass, Peter Burrows on lead guitar, and Koshen is on rhythm guitar and vocals. Koshen is a singer and songwriter. Something fun that you should know about her is that she writes about 15 songs a month.
“Music is a living, breathing journal for me. The songs that stick reflect the collective experience. I love collaborating with other musicians. I love the small-town local music scene and supporting other upcoming singer-songwriters,” she said.
You can hear the bluegrass in her music, from the years she hung out with the Haferman boys in college. You can expect to hear touches of this style and components of her soul within the music.
Her musical journey doesn’t stop yet. At 3 pm April 4, you can tune in to hear her collection of songs and music. We all have the ability to tune in and listen. Prior to the COVID 19 pandemic, Koshen has had flexibility in her life as a teacher and musician. She has a strong connection to her community and the crowds she performs for. It’s not about the glitz and glam to her, so this virtual happy hour concert is a perfect way to connect with the local artist. During these times of difficulty, she believes in the power of her music.
“I notice who is watching and who is listening. I love knowing that my words connect and resonate.” Koshen said.
The Racine County Eye isn’t the only way that Koshen is giving back. If you have a loved one at St. Monica’s Senior Living, you can expect them to hear her music. She spends her time weekly with the residents by playing, what she calls, “window concerts.” Koshen takes her children and her three dogs to the window and projects their voices over her phone to the activities directors phone. It works wonderful, and the residents love it. This isn’t their first time playing here as they have performed at Christmas time.
While she is giving to our community, you can give your support to her by listening to Rocky Rose’s singles on Itunes and Spotify. Give Rocky Rose a like on Facebook and visit their website www.rockyrose.org to purchase merchandise. Join her journey by connecting virtually on Racine County Eye’s Live Facebook page.
We’ll also post Rachelle’s video after it airs.