Singer/songwriter Rachel Kurtz performs in Marty’s

Singer/songwriter Rachel Kurtz performed in Marty’s on October 6. Photo courtesy of

On Thursday, October 6, Minneapolis-based singer and songwriter Rachel Kurtz brought her musicality and storytelling to Marty’s. Luther students and community members gathered together for this night of teaching, music and stories. The two-hour performance also featured Kurtz’s friend and collaborator, Kelley Larson. Kurtz points to love and acceptance being central themes of her music. 


“My message is that God loves you exactly as you are,” Kurtz said. “You are just exactly who you are with purpose and intention. My message is also that I adore you.”


As a singer, Kurtz bridges the genres of folk and soul. She started performing in churches, women’s retreats, clubs, and public youth events in her early twenties but had been singing in her home church her entire life. Starting out in a $220 Station Wagon her father found at a police auction, Kurtz embarked on her first tour to explore the country. 


Kurtz’s performance on Thursday was put on by the College Ministries office. Admission was free, but it was requested that people bring non-perishable food items to donate to the Little Free Pantry. Director of College Ministries and College Pastor Melissa Bills first saw Kurtz perform at an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) event in New Orleans and was excited for her to perform at Luther. 


“She is just this amazing soul [and] soulful singer,” Bills said. “When she reached out this spring to see if she could swing down to Luther for a concert, the answer was absolutely.”


Kurtz’s performance also acted as a bridge between Decorah’s October 1 Pride celebration and Luther’s Homecoming weekend that began on October 8. Bills explains the timeliness of the performance. 


“This message of unconditional love for one another,” Bills said. “It fits really nicely into the bridge between Pride weekend and homecoming weekend.”


Many in the audience were already in Marty’s grabbing dinner and decided to stay after hearing Kurtz perform. One such audience member was Andre Hagen Espino (‘26). Espino points to the importance of supporting artists like Kurtz. 


“We need to support artists who want to grow and express their feelings through music,” Espino said. “The music and voice performance was chill, which made me feel relaxed, and the guitar accompanying the songs added a different vibe to the concert.”


Kurtz ended the night of songs and storytelling with a performance of her song “Gay Kids”, written to support and encourage the LGBTQIA+ community. Following her time at Luther, Kurtz will be performing October 12 at the Icehouse in Minneapolis. Kurtz hopes that all of her audiences take away that it’s OK to not have everything figured out yet. 


“There’s so much pressure on you to have it figured out. You don’t have to have it all figured out yet,” Kurtz said. “Life is big and messy and beautiful, and that’s the frickin’ joy of it.”