By Justine Souchack

Growing up in Freehold, NJ, Gigi Rich wrote her first song at age 13 and won Amateur Night at The Apollo Theater a short time later.

After appearing on NBC’s The Voice in 2017—where she was mentored by Gwen Stefani—Rich released her debut EP, All In My Head. The songs represent the evolution of a young woman on her journey to be an undeniable force as a vocalist, performer, and songwriter.

In addition to taking classes at Julliard, she is currently enrolled in online courses at Berklee College of Music while staying on top of a busy tour and writing schedule. At only 20 years old, Gigi Rich is just getting started.

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WiMN: What was your introduction to music? 

GR: I was introduced to music at a very young age by my older sister. She would play the piano as I sat next to her and loved it so much, I would beg for lessons as a child. I was fascinated with the graceful, fluid movements of her hands, and I knew that I wanted to do the same thing.

My parents were also avid music listeners and were exposed to a lot of the great classic rock and R&B artists of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. I also took an interest in poetry and joined the drama club and community theatre growing up. I was constantly singing around the house, and at 8 years old began taking vocal lessons. At about 12 years old, I started to combine my love for singing, piano, and writing, and wrote my first song.

WiMN: Can you tell us about your experience as a contestant on The Voice? What was it like working with Gwen Stefani?

GR: My experience on The Voice was eye-opening, to say the least. It taught me how to stand on my own as an artist and how to perform in front of a large television audience. I gained a lot of confidence in myself and realized what an important role stage presence plays in performing.

Working with Gwen was amazing, she is extremely down to earth and spoke to us about being ourselves and releasing the fear of looking silly on stage. I learned a lot about myself and about the direction I wanted my career to take. It also helped my writing! Some experiences that I had on the show inspired music on my last EP.

WiMN: Can you tell us more about your EP?

GR: Sure, it’s called All In My Head. The writing and recording process was a long one. I would say each song reflects a period of time during my teenage years. There was a lot of change, transition and experiencing new things…these are all topics I wrote about on the EP. Self-doubt, first love, losing love…and my way of dealing with it was to write. Fortunately, I got to collaborate with some great producers who helped my vision come to life! I wanted to be there for everything, not just the writing process. Laying down tracks and actually watching this project come to life was incredible.

WiMN: You performed at the She Rocks Showcase in Nashville this past summer. What was that experience like?

GR: It was amazing! I LOVE Nashville and the super friendly music scene that it offers. I was excited to share some new music with the crowd and everyone seemed to respond well to it! A Nashville crowd never disappoints :). Also, just feeling like I am part of an organization that supports women in music is the best feeling. I love female empowerment and was so happy to share the stage with other incredible female artists. We can all share the stage and hold our own while encouraging each other to have an amazing performance. It’s super refreshing!

WiMN: You are passionate about working with organizations that support domestic violence and mental health awareness. Can you tell us a little more about that? 

GR: My sister lost her life due to domestic violence, so It’s something that has affected me greatly. I want to do any little thing I can to make a difference and am determined to offer my time and voice whenever I am able, to help raise money and awareness for different domestic violence organizations.

The same holds true for mental health issues. I, myself, struggle with depression at times due to what happened and understand what it is like to deal with it. Depression is something that is stigmatized, and I want to be open about it and support these different organizations because it’s not something to be ashamed of.

WiMN: Has there ever been a time where you felt discriminated against because of your gender? If so, how did you overcome it?

GR: I am not sure if I can conclusively state I have been discriminated against because I am a female, but I do feel that at times I have not been taken seriously in an industry where most of the top music executives are males. Being a younger female, I have approached older males in this business purely to network, only to realize their interest in me is more on a personal level rather than professional. When my motivation is clarified, I have encountered diminished interest in my career goals.

WiMN: What advice would you give to young girls aspiring to be songwriters? 

GR: I’d say that my best piece of advice is to take every session you possibly can. Don’t turn down anything. You never know who may be there, who knows who and who they may want to connect you with, etc. That random session you booked might be the one where you get the hit song or the placement…you never know. Just go. There’s no harm. Going to these big songwriter meetups might be intimidating if you’re in a music town because you don’t know anyone, but a few minutes of awkwardness is worth what you get out of it!

WiMN: What’s next for you? 

GR: I just finished recording my new EP, and am shooting a video in the next couple of weeks! So expect some new music and upcoming shows :). And as always, performing, writing songs for myself, and for other artists.