"Rachael Yamagata" (born September 23 1978) is a singer-songwriter. She plays piano and has a dark, smokey alto, garnering frequent comparisons to Fiona Apple.
A child of divorced parents, Yamagata divided her time between her Sansei Japanese American father in Washington, D.C. and her Italian/German mother in New York City. She maintains close relationships with both, including nostalgic pictures of them in the liner notes of ''Happenstance'', as well as crediting both in interviews with the person she is today. Yamagata graduated from the Holton-Arms School for Girls in Bethesda, Maryland in 1992. Yamagata is conversational in Japanese.
Yamagata initially headed to Northwestern University to study French. She transferred to Vassar College to study Italian theater, but her acting coach at Vassar moved to teach at Barnard College. Yamagata followed her acting coach, but then went back to Northwestern to join their theater program. During her junior year, she befriended the funk band Bumpus, a mainstay in the Chicago music scene.