Rachael Yamagata

Rachael Yamagata
Rachael Yamagata on stage in 2008
Rachael Yamagata on stage in 2008
Background information
Born (1977-09-23) September 23, 1977 (age 45)
Arlington, Virginia, United States
GenresAdult alternative, indie
Instrument(s)Piano, guitar, vocals
LabelsRCA Victor, Warner Bros., Frankenfish/Megaforce
Formerly ofBumpus

Rachael Yamagata (born September 23, 1977) 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.

Early life and education

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


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. 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 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.

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

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. Billboard characterized the album as much darker and sadder in tone than its predecessor. That month, her two-song live acoustic video performance appeared on LiveDaily Sessions and featured the songs "Faster" and "Sunday Afternoon". In April 2009, Yamagata performed her song "Elephants" on the television drama One Life to Live.

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. In 2012 Yamagata released her next EP called Heavyweight. 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. 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!" 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.

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.

Personal life

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


Studio albums

Title Album details Peak chart positions
Happenstance 40
Elephants...Teeth Sinking into Heart 53
  • Released: October 11, 2011
  • Label: Frankenfish
13 122
Acoustic Happenstance
  • Released: April 23, 2016
  • Label: Sony Music
Tightrope Walker
  • Released: September 23, 2016
  • Label: Frankenfish

Compilation albums

Title Album details Peak chart positions
The Very Best of Rachael Yamagata 67

Extended plays

Title Album details Peak chart positions
Live at the Loft & More
  • Released: January 26, 2005
  • Label: BMG
Loose Ends
  • Released: May 22, 2008
  • Label: Warner Bros. Records
Heavyweight EP
  • Released: November 20, 2012
  • Label: Frankenfish
Porch Songs EP
  • Released: October 12, 2018
  • Label: Sony Music


Title Year Peak chart positions Sales Album


"Worn Me Down" 2003 33 EP
"Letter Read" 2004 Happenstance
"Be Be Your Love" 26 1
  • KOR: 1,635,206
"River" 2005 Live at the Loft & More
"Elephants" 2008 Elephants...Teeth Sinking into Heart
"Sunday Afternoon"
"Starlight" 2011 Chesapeake
"Even If I Don't"
"You Won't Let Me" 12
  • KOR: 337,397
"Nothing Gets By Here" 2012 6
  • KOR: 53,513
Heavyweight EP
"I'm Not in Love"
(10cc cover)
2014 28
  • KOR: 10,053
The Very Best of Rachael Yamagata
"Nobody" 2016 Tightrope Walker
"Let Me Be Your Girl"
"Be Somebody's Love" 2018 Porch Songs EP
"It's Always The Little Things"
(with Guo Ding)
Non-album single

Original soundtrack contributions

Title Year Peak chart positions Sales Album

"I Wish You Love" 2005 Prime OST
"Jesus Was a Cross Maker"
(Judee Sill cover)
2005 Elizabethtown OST
"He Needs a Kidney"
(with various artists) (from 30 Rock)
2009 Non-album single
"Hand of God" 2012 That's What She Said OST
"Let's Begin Again"
(with John Medeski) (Robert Altman cover)
2014 Altman OST
"Something in the Rain" 2018 10 Something in the Rain OST
"La La La" 31
"No Direction" 2019 One Spring Night OST
"Is It You"
"We Could Still Be Happy"

Other soundtrack appearances

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

Title Year Media
"1963" 2005 Monster-in-Law
2015 November Rule
"Be Be Your Love" 2004 One Tree Hill
2005 The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
2005 Trust the Man
2006 Brothers & Sisters
2009 So You Think You Can Dance
2012 Wilsberg
"Be Somebody's Love" 2018 Something in the Rain
"Blister Of The Spotlight"
(with Ashtar Command)
2008 Ugly Betty
"Brown Eyes" 2009 Grey's Anatomy
"Collide" 2005 In Her Shoes
"Don't" 2009 Private Practice
"Duet" 2008 Brothers & Sisters
2009 Grey's Anatomy
"Elephants" 2009 One Life to Live
2010 Gravity
2015 The Vampire Diaries
"Horizon" 2009 One Tree Hill
"I Don't Want to Be Your Mother" 2012 Hope Springs
"I Want You" 2006 Men in Trees
"I'll Find a Way" 2005 ER
"Keep Going" 2015 The Vampire Diaries
"Meet Me By the Water" 2006 Bella
"The Other Side" 2008 The L Word
"Paper Doll" 2005 Trust the Man
"Quiet" 2006 How I Met Your Mother
2023 Ted Lasso
"The Reason Why" 2004 Smallville
2005 The O.C.
2008 Cashmere Mafia
2009 Hotel for Dogs
2009 Brain Drain
"Saturday Morning" 2020 Scare Me
"Sunday Afternoon" 2010 One Tree Hill
"The Way It Seems To Go" 2013 Lucky Them
"Worn Me Down" 2003 Miss Match
2004 The O.C.

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