Born in Port Lincoln in 1971, I’m the eldest daughter of David McManis and Carmel Anthony, followed by my sister Julieanne. We grew up in Kirton Point; Dad worked in a butcher shop, then with the city council where he was affectionately nicknamed “Crockett”. Dad was also a singer/rhythm guitarist in popular cabaret band ‘Mile End’, (later Rendition). Much of my early childhood was spent listening to music with Dad, occasionally he’d drop a mic stand down.
Music was one of his many talents. He was also a brilliant artist, built guitars and spent hours with me before I started school teaching me to read, write and draw. On my 12th birthday Mum and Dad separated. Dad moved to Darwin and remarried. My sister and I remained in Lincoln with Mum who struggled with depression, little was known about the condition back then, it was a tough time. In my early teens I moved to live with Dad. He didn’t play much anymore but I’d spend hours going through their record collection, much to the neighbour’s chagrin!
I loved Fleetwood Mac, Linda Ronstadt and others. I’d sing to those albums a lot. Music was my escape in a city of strangers. At 15 I debuted at karaoke in front of about 60 people. I never cared if I was any good, I just loved to sing. I never expected people to applaud but crazily enough, they did!
By the time I was 19 I transfered with Woolworths and was back in Lincoln. I performed with ‘Gentleman in Disguise’ and other small spots until an opportunity arose for a Certificate III in Commercial Music Performance at TAFE, run by Richard McDonald, a seasoned professional. Richard introduced me to his band ‘Dick and the Horns’ at the Marina Hotel within weeks of the audition. Soon we gigged everywhere as ‘Richard and Rachael’ - regulars in the local Gig Guide. I worked with Richard up to the birth of my son David and beyond. At 28 I married my son’s father Rodney Paton. We divorced a short time later but remain close friends.
There were following musical collaborations, ‘R&J’, ‘GYST’ with Ron Ash, Kat Williams in the ‘Pandra’ trio, and recently with the talented Chris Trenberth. I took up leadlighting classes, volunteered in the Civic Gallery Shop and visitors centre and grew a love for glass and art work which I still create, now mostly lampwork (glass beads) and water colours. After completing a Certificate IV in Small Business Management under the NEIS scheme I opened my business Art of Glass. Although unsuccessful, an opportunity to teach 40 vocal students a week at St Joseph’s School soon followed, which I embraced for four amazing years. There I discovered needs in literacy and bonded with children with autism and disability through music. I decided to study as a special needs SSO. I was inspired by my stepfather Michael Geeves, who from a wheelchair worked with high school students building furniture until he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.
For the last four years, I have been an SSO at Port Lincoln Primary School and love my role. I can embrace my artistic side, encouraging others to ‘have a go!’ My son is 22 and just received Apprentice of the Year in automotive spray painting. My plans are to keep creating, revisit vocal tutoring and bring in our newest musical venture. My life is colourful and crazy, and I love it!