Old Soul Rebel stand out in Vancouver’s music scene in more ways than one. In a city crowded with folk-singer/songwriters, indie rockers and metal heads, the dynamic duo that is Chelsea D.E. Johnson (vocalist/guitarist ) and Lola Whyte (vocalist/banjo) stand out as a powerhouse soul rock act known for high-energy live shows and larger-than-life personalities.
Combining Johnson’s experience as touring musician with Whyte’s past life as a cabaret owner and performer, Old Soul Rebel is a partnership in every sense of the word.
“When people ask me any question about the band, my first response is that ‘I’m gonna have to talk to the wife,’” Whyte half-jokes. “There’s not a lot at this point that I can do in my life without having to run it by Chelsea, and I’m saying that in a really fun way.”
The connection between these two women runs far deeper than a musical bond or shared business acumen. As queer people of colour, Johnson and Whyte represent and celebrate their African, German and First Nations heritages and identities through their music and connections they’ve been able to make as performers.
2019 is proving to be a defining year for the group with Johnson and Whyte facing one of their biggest challenges on a personal and professional level, participating in season two of CTV’s talent competition, The Launch.
Whyte’s father passed away during the competition but is immortalized in the band’s next upcoming single, “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me.” This song was a favourite of Whyte’s father, with lyrics touching on topics such as overcoming adversity and moving forward — themes Whyte feels are especially poignant for Old Soul Rebel.
“I think Chelsea and I have shared experiences in overcoming adversity, going into our past and upbringing as people of minority groups,” says Whyte. “I’m excited to share that with the world.”