RACHEL FARO is an accomplished singer, songwriter, record producer, consultant and record label executive. She is also a well-known producer of Cuban, Latin, African, jazz, blues, folk and world music recordings and the founder and president of Ashe Records, a well-respected world music record label.
Besides her own three solo albums Rachel has produced over thirty albums with other artists, three of which have received Grammy nominations.
In addition to her musical activities Rachel is a senior meditation teacher and practitioner within the Shambhala and Tibetan Buddhist traditions who has taught and led meditation retreats and workshops in the U.S., Europe and South Africa.
And finally, she is also the proud mother of Anandi, an outstanding jazz singer and songwriter based in Portland Oregon.
The Whole Story
RACHEL FARO is a multi-talented award-winning singer-songwriter, record producer, composer, writer and consultant. As a singer/songwriter she is beloved by fans all over the world for her beautiful voice, her brilliant and poetic lyrics and her classic pop/folk songs. As a record producer she is reknowned as a pioneer in "world" and Cuban music. Rachel has produced or co-produced over thirty albums (three of which have received Grammy Nominations), eight film soundtracks and recorded three solo albums. She is also the president of Ashé Records, an independent label specializing in Afro-Caribbean music, which is distributed in the United States through Rounder Records and throughout Europe. Her productions are noted for their simplicity and sophistication, but this simplicity belies a highly critical and creative spirit.
As a student at New York's High School of Performing Arts, Rachel studied theatre, dance and music. She began her professional career as a teenage member of the Los Angeles cast of Hair. Several years later she was discovered by the legendary record producer John Simon, which led to a contract with RCA Records. Rachel's first album, Refugees, featured sideman such as Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, Michael Brecker, Tito Puente and Bonnie Raitt. This landmark release is beloved by many fans to this day. Her second album on RCA, Rachel Faro II, had Eric Weisberg and Deliverance as her backup band with vocal harmonies by The Pennywhistlers, with a Slavic sound. After recording these two albums in the 1970's continued to tour and perform throughout the world while focussing much of her attention to her studies of Tibetan Buddhism.
In the 1980's Rachel began her career as a record producer and film composer. She was invited to direct and compose the soundtracks to several documentary films. "The Divided Trail", a film about Native Americans, narrated by Jon Voigt, received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Documentary Short. "Lion's Roar", a film about His Holiness Karmapa, was narrated by James Coburn and received many awards, including the Lucy Award for Best Sound.
In 1988 Rachel produced her first album: famed folksinger Odetta’s first studio release in 15 years, a classic Christmas album, Christmas Spirituals, which received the NAIRD INDI Award for Best Seasonal Release 1989. Soon after, Rachel co-produced Latin superstar Eddie Palmieri’s Sueño (Capitol/Intuition), which received a Grammy Nomination. This was Rachel’s introduction to Latin music, making an indelible impression upon her musical world.
Since then Rachel has gone on to produce many more recordings. In the blues genre she produced three albums for the notorious blues duo Satan and Adam, one of received a W.C. Handy Award. and several tracks for the legendary guitarist Danny Kalb of the Blues Project. She has also produced the brilliant British songwriter, Paul Millns (formerly of Pentangle) and Chris Chandler, a “punk folksinger”.
Soon after completing the Eddie Palmieri CD, Rachel encountered the Cuban band Mezcla at a festival in Berlin. An unprecedented musical exchange developed and in 1988 she went on to produce Mezcla’s Fronteras De Sueños for Germany’s Intuition Records, one of the first international signings of a Cuban band. The following year she produced drummer Bobby Sanabria’s New York City Aché, bringing her deeper into the world of Latin music.
Eager to expand her knowledge and ability to work with Cuban music, Rachel teamed up with famed percussionist Sammy Figueroa to form Faro Figueroa Productions. Their first production was Cantos: Lazaro Ros con Mezcla (Intuition). This landmark CD features Cuba’s foremost singer of ceremonial Afro-Cuban chants singing the traditional songs to modern arrangements composed by members of Mezcla. Rachel herself researched and wrote the accompanying educational liner notes and supervised the album design.
In 1993 Rachel and Sammy met the sensational Cuban a cappella group Vocal Sampling, at the Havana Plaza Jazz Festival. Together they arranged for the group to be signed to BMG Music Publishing in Germany, and producing their first album, Una Forma Mas (Sire/Elektra), which was released by Warner Music worldwide and enthusiastically acclaimed by luminaries such as Quincy Jones, Bobby McFerrin, Paul Simon, and Carlos Santana. Their second album, De Vacaciones (East West) was released in 1997 and is considered to be one of the greatest a cappella albums ever recorded.
In 1994-5 Rachel was executive producer for the three-album Ashé Series on Green Linnett/ Xenophile Records which presented the best of Cuban music: Los Van Van’s Azucar, Lazaro Ros’ Olorun, and Songs and Dances by Clave y Guaguanco. In 1995 she also produced the best-selling Tobacco Songs from Old Havana (Traditional Crossroads/Rounder).
In 1996 Ashé became a full-fledged record company, under the auspices of Rounder Records. Ashé Records was immediately recognized as being at the forefront of quality Latin and world music. Initial releases included the classic Celebremos Navidad, by Puerto Rico’s national hero, cuatro player Yomo Toro, (produced by Rachel and Sammy Figueroa), which received the INDI AWARD for Best Latin Album, and Songs to Elegua, an album of traditional Afro-Cuban chants produced by Faro in Cuba, performed by Latin Grammy-nominated folkloric singer Lazaro Ros, which won the Cubadisco Award for Best Folkloric Recording.
Rachel also produced and researched the liner notes a 2 CD boxed set entitled: The Legendary Los Van Van: Thirty Years of Cuba’s #1 Dance Band, released on Ashé Records in December 1999. The result of several years of hard work. the L.A. Times dubbed this project “by far the best of many compilations of Los Van Van” and the New York Times has called it “… still the best compilation of Cuban dance music.”
Rachel has produced three albums for the award-winning series World Lullabies on Ellipsis Arts Records: Tropical Lullaby, Cuban Lullaby and Latin Lullaby, all of which have remained popuar with parents and babies throughout the world. In 2001 Rachel also worked on the soundtrack for Boxeo Cuba, a documentary feature on Cuban boxing by Austrian director Gernot Schaffler. She also produced two tracks for the EMI World Christmas album, one featuring Ruben Blades, Dave Valentin and Yomo Toro and the other featuring Vocal Sampling.
Some of Rachel’s recent work includes the Zimbabwean mbira master Ephat Mujuru’s masterpiece, Journey of the Spirit(Alula Records) and a series of compilations co-produced for Australia’s Petrol Records, including Mexico: The Greatest Songs Ever, Argentina: The Greatest Songs Ever and Spain: The Greatest Songs Ever. These compilations are available in the United States through Time-Life Records. In 2001 she worked on “1000 Songs”, a massive compilation of fifty CDs on the history and development of popular music over the last fifty years, produced by Germany’s major daily newspaper Suddische Zeitung and the Berlin-based label Ministry of Sound.
In 2002 Rachel produced her partner Sammy Figueroa's first album, "And Sammy Walked In." Together they have produced two albums for Savant Records, both of which received the Grammy Nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album. She also produced a variety of other albums, including Brazilian Voices, End of the Sky by the Tibetan nun Lama Karma Chotso, and When I have Money Someday by Chinese superstar Li Chun Bo.
Rachel's career and life have also been inextricably linked to Tibetan Buddhism, particularly as presented in the secular Shambhala Buddhist path. She is the founder of the Miami Shambhala Meditation Group and is an experienced teacher, teaching programs throughout the United States.
In 2009 Rachel was called upon to resume her career as a singer and songwriter. Silverwolf Records offered to release her third album "Windsong", in a new remastered, repackaged and resequenced version. Simultaneously, a fellow singer/songwriter from Japan, Yoshiko Yoshida, invited Rachel to tour with her in four cities in Japan. These invitations served to reinvoke Rachel's voice, both physically and spiritually, and since that time she has performed in New York City, Nashville, South Florida and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Plans for a fourth album, which will integrate the various influences she has been producing, are in the works.
As a singer/songwriter, composer and record producer, Rachel’s work has made a difference in the landscape of the musical world and contributed to the process of global unity. As she continues her musical and other endeavors we are sure that her work will continue to inspire, educate and entertain.