Rachelle van Zanten

Rachelle van Zanten BIO

Canadian roots-blues-rocker Rachelle van Zanten has spent most of her life on the International Rock ‘n Roll Highway, paving the way for the next generation of female rock musicians. Her “punishing slide guitar“ has her listed as “one of Canada’s best slide guitarists” (Randy Bachman) and garnered her the fitting description of “Lucinda Williams meets Led Zepplin.” As an acclaimed songwriter and recording artist, she is loved for her “straight from the heart, gutsy, and intimate” songs that “give voice to thunder and fire the hearts” of those who share her passionate callings (Wade Davis, National Geographic). Van Zanten co-fronted the notable all-female rock band, Painting Daisies until 2005; has performed with Feist, Blue Rodeo, Clarence Gatemouth Brown and Sue Foley; and has opened for the Indigo Girls, Eagle Eye Cherry and Dar Williams. She has toured across Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, India and Nepal and carries a deep and loyal fan base. Currently, van Zanten is combining her music career with her new self-defined role as “badass northern BC bush mother”, raising kids and chickens and teaching indigenous youth to to ski and ride the trails in her rural hometown in northern BC.

RvZ Kids’ Concerts

Original truthful adult friendly kids songs about growing up in Northern BC! From bush rats to moose farming, Rachelle gives insight into what it’s like to be a child of the North. Come sing along and shake a leg to the signature guitar grooves of RvZ while getting pro tips on how to deal with aggressive roosters.

Long Bio (click to expand & collapse)

When she’s not firing up her chainsaw to fill her woodshed, growing chickens, raising kids, or teaching indigenous youth to rip it up on the bike trails, roots-blues-rock warrior Rachelle van Zanten is performing and recording in Canada these days. After decades of touring internationally, western Canadian audiences are getting their chance to enjoy her “Lucinda Williams meets Led Zepplin” style shows everywhere from Prince George to Bella Coola to Edmonton and Vancouver.

Back in 1995, van Zanten recorded and toured internationally for 10 years as a member of the award winning Canadian female rock band, Painting Daisies. Making the road their home, Rachelle and her band mates toured the globe, inspiring and leading countless young women towards rock and roll. In 2003, van Zanten’s penned, “Walking Home Lately”, was the song that lead to winning top prize in CBC’s “Great Canadian Music Dream” competition, from over 4000 acts.

In 2005, Rachelle began her intense solo career during which time she recorded “Back to Francois” and performed an average of 200 shows a year. She was listed as Canada’s “best slide guitarist” by musician Randy Bachman and her song writing was described by critics as “straight from the heart, gutsy, and intimate”. In 2008, van Zanten’s UK band recorded her 2nd solo album, “Where Your Garden Grows”, with Joby Baker (Deva Premal, Cowboy Junkies) and Tchad Blake (Sheryl Crow, Los Lobos). This album was the top played album for CKUA Radio 2009 and charted on numerous international stations.

After having her first daughter in 2011, Rachelle began to blend her powerful live performances and equally powerful social activism, creating socially conscious lyrics with soulful Canadiana grooves. “Oh Mother” was released in 2013 which then lead way to festival appearances across Canada with a baby in tow. After wowing a large crowd at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, she received the “Emerging Artist Award” for 2014. Her songs “My Country” and “I Fight For Life” have become national rally cries and have appeared on numerous Canadian documentaries (White Water Black Gold, Awakening the Skeena).

“Rachelle van Zanten is our voice, the muse of the north, a woman as strong and beautiful as the mountains, as fluid as the sea. She writes songs to inspire the wind, give voice to thunder, and fire the hearts of all sentient beings fighting to protect the land she loves so dearly.”  Wade Davis, Explorer in Residence, National Geographic Society

Since daughter number two, Rachelle recorded her children’s album, “Little Spruce”, which has been flying off of shelves and into homes and schools around the world. It is catchy, quirky, smart, and heartfelt, wrapped together with some gnarly slide guitar and intricate acoustic picking. It is the perfect adult-friendly children’s album and has opened a new career path to children’s festivals and school performances. As a busy, full time mother, touring is not always easy, so these days van Zanten is putting her energy into bringing music back into the schools, teaching songwriting and musicianship as well as playing the festival circuit. She is also working locally with First Nations youth in northern BC — leading classes and inspiring a new love for backcountry sports or leading workshops for collaborative songwriting and recording projects.

In 2018 van Zanten released a six-pack of original Christmas songs, “Christmas in these parts – 1”, which combines her signature guitar stylings and carefully-crafted lyrics with savvy contributions from fellow BC musicians. The collection pays tribute to the free spirit of BCs rural Northwest and captures some of that childlike joy that comes with the season.

In 2021 van Zanten released her single and music video “Kelli Likes to Ride”, a blues-infused folk-rock gem featuring her ripping slide guitar tune that pays tribute to Canada’s legendary mountain biker Kelli Sherbinin. The cinematically lush music video is set in British Columbia’s spectacular mountain forests and features a lively interplay between the two “rock” star women.

Rachelle van Zanten performs theatre concerts, community halls, festivals (including kids stages), conferences, school shows, songwriting & recording workshops

What They Say

“Rachelle van Zanten is our voice, the muse of the north, a woman as strong and beautiful as the mountains, as fluid as the sea. She writes songs to inspire the wind, give voice to thunder, and fire the hearts of all sentient beings fighting to protect the land she loves so dearly.”  

~ Wade Davis, Explorer in Residence, National Geographic Society

“Punishing slide guitar that would make Jimmy Page blush”

~ See Magazine 

“After 11 years in the trenches, Canadian slide guitarist Rachelle van Zanten is done with bands. She just released her first solo album, Back to Francois, which is packed with funky blues riffs and stellar slide performances. The surprise is that van Zanten juxtaposes her gutsy guitar playing with very personal and introspective lyrics- a stylistic trait she attributes to her diverse influences.”

~ Guitar Player Magazine

“Rachelle van Zanten has come a long way from her bluegrass upbringing in the foothills of northern British Columbia. For over a decade, this Canadian slide guitarist and songwriter has been working out her soulful blues riffs and turning heads. When the award-winning Painting Daisies dissolved in late 2005, van Zanten seized the opportunity to launch her solo career, recording her “fresh and rootsy” solo debut Back to Francois with producer Joby Baker. Baker has since assumed the role of drummer, accompanying van Zanten on an exhaustive tour that has thrust this up-and-coming artist into the international limelight.”

~ FFward Mag

“Simply put, this woman is the total package. A fabulous musician on keyboards and guitar, particularily on acoustic and electric slide guitar, a great voice and a strong songwriter with excellent pop and rock sensibilities.”

~ Ottawa Citizen

Promo Photos

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Theatre Concerts, Community Halls, Festivals (including Kids’ Stage sets), Conferences, School Shows, Songwriting & Recording Workshops

2023 Dates

April 15, 2023

April 23 – 30, 2023

Aug 4 – 5, 2023
Festival TBA • southern BC

Aug 18, 2023
Festival TBA • Northern BC

2022 Dates

March 26, 2022
CONCERT • The Logpile Sessions, Smithers, BC

July 1-3, 2022
MIDSUMMER FESTIVAL • Bulkley Valley Fair Grounds, BC

July 8, 9 & 10, 2022
CARIBOO BLUES • 100 Mile House & 108 Mile, BC

July 15, 2022
BILLY BARKER DAYS Kids’ Concert, Quesnel, BC

July 22-24, 2022

2021 Dates

January 31, 2021 • 1pm

February 1, 2021 • 7:30pm

February 1, 2021 • online
COLDSNAP FESTIVAL Slide Guitar Workshop

May 13, 2021 • OFFICIAL SINGLE & VIDEO RELEASE “Kelli Likes to Ride”
WATCH & Subscribe on Youtube
PURCHASE on Bandcamp

September 10-11, 2021
Midsummer Festival

November 19, 2021

November 2021, TBA

2021 TBA


To Book or for more info

Contact Sandra Smith • sandra@plaidpeoplemusic.com • 250-643-6221


For the artist’s sake, please purchase and download before you stream. Thanks!

Bandcamp | ITunes | Spotify | Facebook



2021 Quarantine Concert

I recognize with respect and gratitude that, in Smithers, the land on which I live, work and play is the unceded traditional territory of the Gidimt'en Clan and the Wet’suwet’en people. em>

Plaid People Music gratefully acknowledges support from…