Out of the crowd

IU Southeast freshman and aspiring musician meets Taylor Swift


Esarey with Swift backstage. Esarey said she was dancing to Swift’s song “Wildest Dreams” when Swift’s mother approached her and asked if she had ever met Taylor. Photo courtesy of Rachel Esarey.

Joel Stinnett, Staff Reporter

It is a rare occasion in life when someone is given a chance to meet their idol. It is an even rarer occasion when that person meets their idol while wearing a pink and blue light-up tutu.

That is the position Rachel Esarey, music freshman and aspiring song writer, found herself in last October at a Taylor Swift concert in Lexington, Ky.

Esarey was decked out in her tutu and a homemade t-shirt full of sparkles as she moved her feet to Swift’s performance. That’s when someone interrupted her dance party.

“I was dancing like crazy and her [Swift’s] mom came up to me during the song ‘Wildest Dreams’,” Esarey said. “She said, ‘have you ever met Taylor before?’ and I didn’t actually use words. I just made this really weird sound.”

Although the sound Esarey made at the thought of meeting Swift may have been weird, she is more accustomed to creating melodic sounds.

Esarey said she began songwriting when she was 11 years old, but she was in love with music long before then, thanks to her family.

Her father was in a bluegrass band when Esarey was younger and still plays the guitar and bass. Her brother plays the piano and her mother sings.

“My family when I was growing up always played a ton of music around the house. All kinds,” Esarey said. “So it really seemed kind of natural to go into music.”

Esarey wrote her first song, ‘Nevermind,’ when she was in the sixth grade about finding out that a boy she liked had a girlfriend. That song is now on iTunes and Esarey said she still writes about everyday life.

“I just try to take experiences of what I have actually done and turn them into music,” Esarey said. “I take a lot of my own awkward experiences, because I am very awkward.”

Jill Esarey, who is married to Esarey’s cousin, said the musician may be shy at first, but her demeanor changes once she is holding a guitar.

“She has kind of a sarcastic personality,” Jill said. “She is witty and it comes out in her music.”

Jill found that out firsthand when her husband, Jon, challenged Esarey to write a song about him. Esarey came up with a song titled “Jon is the worst,” in which her cousin kicks puppies and steals wheelchairs from the elderly.

Esarey, an aspiring songwriter, has been writing songs since she was 11 years old, but fell in love with music long before then thanks to her family.

“Her lyrics were funny and the two of them are really close,” Jill said.

Esarey said she has performed at the New Albany Production House and the Jeffersonville Riverstage amphitheater. She said she gets nervous on stage, but her friends and family said they don’t notice.

“Generally she is really shy, but when she gets on stage she becomes this other person,” Jill said. “She is in her element.”

Makenzi Cooley had theater class with Esarey at Jeffersonville High School and is her best friend. She says Rachel is not one to hide when the bright lights shine on her.

“When she gets on stage, she has a big personality,” Cooley said. “She is very sassy.”

Esarey’s change in demeanor from shy college freshman offstage to rock star onstage might have something to do with her second favorite artist, Kasey Musgraves.

“I like how eloquent Taylor is with her lyrics, but I love how sassy Kasey is with hers,” Esarey said. “They don’t even have to rhyme, she doesn’t care. I love it.”

Rachel does not have to look far for inspiration when writing her own lyrics. She said Swift signed her songwriting journal when she got the chance to meet the artist backstage at the concert in October.

Esarey said she and her idol mostly talked about cat names, but that Swift also gave her some advice.

“She told me that you have to keep trying with songwriting,” Esarey said. “It’s not going to be an instantaneous thing and not every song you write is going to be gold, but you have to be patient with it.”

Esarey said meeting Swift made her dream of becoming a successful musician seem more attainable, and the experience is something she will not forget as she starts to get her own fans.

“I like it when young kids listen to my music, like the kids that I babysit,” Esarey said. “One of them memorized one of my songs and it was so sweet. But they liked the song so much because they see me, and they know that if they want to be a singer they can be a singer.”