Rachael Yamagata

Rachael Yamagata (born September 23, 1977)[1] is an American singer-songwriter and pianist from Arlington, Virginia. She began her musical career with the band Bumpus before becoming a solo artist and releasing five EPs and four studio albums. Her songs have appeared on numerous television shows and she has collaborated with Jason Mraz, Rhett Miller, Bright Eyes, Ryan Adams, Toots and the Maytals and Ray Lamontagne.[2][3]

Rachael Yamagata
Rachael Yamagata on stage in 2008
Background information
Born (1977-09-23) September 23, 1977
Arlington, Virginia, United States
GenresAdult alternative, indie
InstrumentsPiano, guitar, vocals
LabelsRCA Victor, Warner Bros., Frankenfish/Megaforce
Associated actsBumpus

Early life and education

She was born to a Japanese-American father and an Italian-German mother. Yamagata graduated from the Holton-Arms School and attended Northwestern University and Vassar College.[4][5]


Yamagata became the vocalist for the Chicago group Bumpus and spent six years touring, writing and recording with the band before leaving in 2001 to begin a solo career. In September 2002, she obtained a two-record deal with Arista's Private Music and her self-titled EP produced by Malcolm Burn, Rachael Yamagata EP was released in October.[6] Her first full-length album, Happenstance, followed in 2004. The album was produced by John Alagía at Compass Point Studios. Between 2003 and 2005, Yamagata played venues such as Amoeba Records[7] and The Hotel Café, both in Hollywood.

Yamagata was featured on the album True Love by Toots and the Maytals, which won the Grammy Award in 2004 for Best Reggae Album, and showcased many notable musicians including Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Trey Anastasio, Gwen Stefani / No Doubt, Ben Harper, Bonnie Raitt, Manu Chao, The Roots, Ryan Adams, Keith Richards, Toots Hibbert, Paul Douglas, Jackie Jackson, Ken Boothe, and The Skatalites.[8]

Yamagata toured with Mandy Moore and contributed a song to Moore's 2007 album, Wild Hope.[9]

In May 2008, Yamagata released a three-song EP, Loose Ends. Her second full-length album Elephants...Teeth Sinking Into Heart was released in October 2008.[10] Billboard characterized the album as much darker and sadder in tone than its predecessor.[11] That month, her two-song live acoustic video performance appeared on LiveDaily Sessions and featured the songs "Faster" and "Sunday Afternoon".[12] In April 2009, Yamagata performed her song "Elephants" on the television drama One Life to Live.[13]

Yamagata digitally released a new album in the fall of 2011 through Pledgemusic. Her third studio album Chesapeake was released through Frankenfish Records in October 2011.[14] In 2012 Yamagata released her next EP called Heavyweight.[15] Yamagata has appeared numerous times as a guest vocalist for other artists including: Jason Mraz's "Did You Get My Message?", "Fireflies" and "The Believer" by Rhett Miller, on Toots & the Maytals's album True Love, the song "Barfly" by Ray Lamontagne, and several songs on Ryan Adams' Cold Roses album. She contributed vocals to six songs on the Bright Eyes album Cassadaga.[16] Yamagata contributed writing, keyboards and vocals to the song "Kaleidoscope" by Jill Cunniff a former member of Luscious Jackson. Yamagata also performs with an ensemble cast on the 30 Rock episode "Kidney Now!"[17] The soundtrack for the film Dear John features the song "You Take My Troubles Away", Yamagata's duet with Dan Wilson. She also performs the Muppets song "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday" on a cover album, Muppets: The Green Album.[18]

Yamagata again partnered with PledgeMusic for her album Tightrope Walker, released on September 23, 2016. She also offered an acoustic digital version of Happenstance as a pledge reward.[19]

Personal life

Yamagata has a twin brother, Benji.[2] Her half brother, Josh Ruben, is an actor and director for CollegeHumor.[20]


Compilation appearances

  • I. C. Independent Celebration, Vol. 1 (2015, Birdstone Records) (song: "Saturday Morning")

Songs in other media

Yamagata's songs have appeared in a number of films and television shows. These include:[25]

2003Miss MatchTV series episode: "Who's Sari Now?""Worn Me Down"
2004One Tree HillTV series episode: "The Trick is to Keep Breathing""Be Be Your Love"
2005ElizabethtownFilm"Jesus Was a Cross Maker"
ERTV series episode: "Back in the World""I'll Find a Way"
In Her ShoesFilm"Collide"
The O.C.TV series episode: "The Second Chance""Reason Why"
TV series episode: "The New Kids on the Block""Worn Me Down"
One Life to LiveTV series episode"I'll Find a Way"
PrimeFilm"I Wish You Love"
Sisterhood of the Traveling PantsFilm"Be Be Your Love"
SmallvilleTV series episode: "Smallville Beginnings""Reason Why"
2006BellaFilm"Meet Me By the Water"
How I Met Your MotherTV series episode: "Nothing Good Happens After 2 A.M.""Quiet"
Brothers & SistersTV series episode: "Patriarchy""Be Be Your Love"
The Last KissFilm"Reason Why"
One Fine DayTV series episode"I'll Find a Way"
Men in TreesTV series episode: "The Caribou in the Room""I Want You"
TV series episode: "Talk for Tat""I Want You"
2007Definitely, MaybeFilm"Meet Me By the Water"
Holiday in HandcuffsFilm"I Want You"
The L WordTV series promo: Fifth season preview"Be Be Your Love"
Los SerranoTV series episode: "Las Fases del Amor""I'll Find a Way"
2008Brothers & SistersTV series episode: "Just a Sliver""Duet"
Cashmere MafiaTV series episode: "The Deciders""Reason Why"
The L WordTV series episode: "Lifecycle""The Other Side"
200930 RockTV series episode: "Kidney Now!""He Needs a Kidney" (as part of supergroup)
The CityTV series episode"Horizon"
Fuga de cerebros(Brain Drain)Film"The Reason Why"
Grey's AnatomyTV series episode: "I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watchin' Me""Brown Eyes"
TV series episode: "I Will Follow You into the Dark""Duet"
Hotel for DogsFilm"Reason Why"
One Life to LiveTV series episode: "Elephants""Elephants"
Private PracticeTV series episode: "Homeward Bound""Don't"
So You Think You Can DanceTV series episode: "The Top 16 Perform""Be Be Your Love"
Taking the StageTV series episode: "Dance Off""Elephants"
2010GravityTV series episode: "Damn Skippy""Elephants"
Life UnexpectedTV series episode: "Love Unexpected""Duet"
Dear JohnFilm"You Take My Troubles Away" with Dan Wilson[26][27]
2012Hope SpringsFilm"I Don't Want to Be Your Mother"
A Gentleman's DignityTV series episode 1"Saturday Morning"
2014The AppearingFilm"Disappear" with David Das[28]
2018Something in the RainTV series episode 1"Something in the Rain"
TV series episode 2"La La La"[29]
TV series"Be Somebody's Love"
2019One Spring NightTV series"No Direction"
TV series"Is It You"
TV series"We Could Still Be Happy"

In season 2018/19 French ice dance team Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron used Yamagata's songs "Duet" and "Sunday afternoon" for their free dance program.


  1. "Rachael Yamagata". BBC Music. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  2. Garcia, Cathy Rose A. (2009-03-31). "Singer Rachael Yamagata to Take Stage for First Time in Seoul". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
  3. Jenkins, Mark (October 28, 2011), "Rachael Yamagata: Album review: "Chesapeake"", Washington Post
  4. Notable Alumni, School of Communication
  5. "Vassar Hub". Archived from the original on 2014-08-29. Retrieved 2015-05-23.
  6. Earl Dittman (November 11, 2015). "Rachael Yamagata recounts her journey to musical independence". Digital Journal. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  7. https://www.amoeba.com/live-shows/detail-435/
  8. "Toots and the Maytals - In Depth - Linear Notes". Toots and the Maytals. Archived from the original on November 10, 2016. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  9. "Mandy Moore's 'Wild Hope' Set for May Release". KEYT3 Santa Barbara. February 8, 2007. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  10. "Elephants...Teeth Sinking Into Heart - Rachael Yamagata". AllMusic.com. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  11. Peters, Mitchell (February 22, 2007). "Yamagata Wraps 'Darker, Grittier' New Album". Billboard. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  12. "Rachael Yamagata: Exclusive Video Performance At LiveDaily Sessions". LiveDaily Sessions. Archived from the original on October 10, 2008. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  13. "One Life to Live News". SOAPnet.com. March 2009. Archived from the original on August 7, 2009. Retrieved April 2, 2009.
  14. Evan Schlansky (27 September 2011). "Song Premiere: Rachael Yamagata, "The Way It Seems To Go"". American Songwriter. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  15. "Rachael Yamagata :: Store". Rachaelyamagata.spinshop.com. Retrieved 2014-08-12.
  16. Cassadaga liner notes
  17. Archived May 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  18. Lifestyle News, Wawzenek, Bryan. My Morning Jacket, Amy Lee, Weezer Cover the Muppets Archived 2011-07-03 at the Wayback Machine, Gibson.com, 27 June 2011.
  19. Dittman, Earl (November 11, 2015). "Rachael Yamagata recounts her journey to musical independence". Digital Journal. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  20. Ruben, Josh. "JOSH'S MINDHOUSE". Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  21. Grace Lee (28 September 2016). "In New Roles on Fourth Album, Rachael Yamagata Is a 'Tightrope Walker'". NBC News. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  22. Yvonne Kim (6 October 2016). "Singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata explores deeper, personal themes in newest album". The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  23. Nicole Evatt (10 October 2016). "Allison Janney clowns around in Rachael Yamagata's new video". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  24. "Here Comes the Reign Again: The Second British Invasion by Andrew Curry — Kickstarter". Kickstarter.com. 2014-07-03. Retrieved 2014-08-12.
  25. "Rachael Yamagata Filmography". Retrieved 2010-07-15.
  26. Aly Comingore (20 June 2013). "Up Close with Rachael Yamagata". Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  27. "Dear John Soundtrack List". Screen Junkies. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  28. The Appearing Soundtrack. "32 Disappear (featuring Rachael Yamagata)". Soundcloud. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  29. beansss (30 March 2018). "American singer Rachael Yamagata singing the first OST for 'Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food'". allkpop.com. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
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