Singer-songwriter Raquel Aurilia knows that in the music business, crazy schedules are a part of everyday life. However, as the former spouse of longtime MLB star Rich Aurilia, it's something she's very used to.
"Our lives were very structured," she tells Billboard. "We moved twice a year. In February, spring training came along, and once that was over, we moved to where we were going to be in that year. For the next six months, we would be one place, and then we would pack up. Arizona has always been our home, but we did that schedule forever -- something like 14 years."
Aurilia will be releasing her third album, Long Way Home, next Tuesday. She can't wait for her fans to hear the record. "I'm very excited and glad it's done. I'm ready to go."
She said the album-making process involves a lot more than just recording the songs. "It can get a little frustrating -- when you write your own lyrics, nobody can proofread them but you," she said. "I literally sat there for days just to make sure that I wasn't messing up. Everything goes into the booklet, so you want to make sure that gets done, such as the credits for the writers and the musicians. There are a lot of details that take time, and you have to go over them with a fine-tooth comb. Even with your photos, you have to pick the right ones for the album, so in all, it's a very big process. It can be a little tedious, but it's all worth it."
Helping to make the recording process amazing was her Grammy-nominated producer, Billy Smiley (Johnny Cash, Bebe & Cece Winans). "I was fortunate to meet Billy, and he put together some amazing musicians to accompany me on all of these songs. I really just left it up to him. On each song, he would say, 'I know the right guy for this.' He has amazing ears, as each musician was nothing short of a perfect fit. I would go to Franklin and stay a week at a time, and get a few songs done each time. I grew to love it there. Every step of the way, I got to watch, from keys to drums to bass. I got to go in and see the process of each piece of the puzzle being put together. That was really fun for me, so different."
She says she appreciates the creative vibe that you find in the Nashville area. "There are talented musicians everywhere, but I think there are just so many here in Nashville. There's something about the culture here that feels really nice and warm. Every studio that we went into had this really warm vibe, with old wooden floors that would creek when you walk. I thought that was really cool. That's what gives it that wonderful sound, that really authentic feel."
Long Way Home features the cream of the crop of Nashville musicians, including Andy Leftwich, a longtime fiddle player with Ricky Skaggs. Leftwich definitely caught Aurilia's attention. "He was amazing. He walked into the studio and took out his violin, heard the music, and started playing beautifully. I was just in awe. Having someone just walk in and do that was a very amazing experience."
The singer feels this album is more representative of where she is in her life than her previous projects. "I do feel that I am most proud of this one because it's now, and it's where I'm at. We did other people's songs on the first album, and it was fun to go in and get my feet wet, but this was a lot different. I feel very good about how it came out."
Songwriting is something that Aurilia -- who has opened for acts ranging from B.B. King to John Waite to Riders in the Sky -- takes very seriously. "It is very therapeutic for me to write a song. It's a very interesting process. When you share your lyrics with people, you don't know how it's going to be received. It can be a very vulnerable place to be. I write from my heart and try to let that be the message. If I can touch one life with it, that's perfect for me. That's why I love writing. It helps me to get through different things in life so much."