Advocacy Through Music With Rachelle Babler – Episode 19

Rachelle Babler grew up in Southern California near the sunny beaches of San Diego and has always been an avid explorer, traveler, musician and creative soul. At the height of her career in forensics in 2017, she quit her job cold turkey to pursue her “why”. Which is “TO empower others to consciously advocate through story on stage or through music, SO THAT they can heal, inspire and unite the human collective”. She is a #1 International Best Selling Co-Author, TEDx Speaker and proud mama to her two children Austin and Camryn.

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0:32 Welcome to the Confidence in Singing podcast. I’m Aideen and my guest today is a Rachelle Babler. She is a singer and artists and an advocate. Welcome, Rachelle.

0:43 thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

0:47 I’m so happy to have you here too. I’m going to read out a little bit of your bio to to give people a taste of what to expect. And then we’ll get into a nice conversation about everything that you do with your music. Rachelle Babler grew up in Southern California near the sunny beaches of San Diego and has always been an avid explorer, traveler, musician and creative soul. At the height of her career in forensics in 2017, she quit her job cold turkey to pursue her “why”. Which is “TO empower others to consciously advocate through story on stage or through music, SO THAT they can heal, inspire and unite the human collective”. She is a #1 International Best Selling Co-Author, TEDx Speaker and proud mama to her two children Austin and Camryn. So welcome, Rachelle. We’re really excited to talk to you about your music and your work as an advocate as well. Where would you like to start? But we go right back to the beginning.

1:54 Yeah, we could start from the beginning, I can give you a little my backstory.

1:58 I’d love to find out about where music where your love for music came from? Where? Who was it that inspired music? Or was it part of the family and tell us a little bit about that.

2:09  So I grew up in, in San Diego, and after I went to high school, I went to college and I became a paramedic and I was a paramedic for six years in San Diego. And, and you know, it was it was in the mindset of, you know, growing up that you get a job, you get a stable job, you get a job with benefits, retirement, all that stuff. It wasn’t I always loved music as a child. And but I never even entertain the thought of doing something with music because that just wasn’t, you know, that wasn’t, you know, stable or didn’t have retirement benefits. And, and so I, you know, went the path of I always loved helping people and being in the medical fields. And so I was a paramedic, and then contract negotiations forced many of us to go back to school. So I, I went back to school, took a class and I got hooked in forensics and I actually was in forensics for 20 years. And throughout that time, I had explored my musical journey with taking lessons from my guitar instructor who I’ve known since high school. He and I sang together and he was like in the band that played for the vocal ensemble group in high school. And after high school, he, he started giving lessons to people. So I took some lessons from him. But then I lost track of him for like 10 to 15 years. And after I’d gotten divorced in my early 40s. I found him again and he had a studio like 10 minutes away from me. So I started taking music lessons from him again. And then, you know, he kept asking me when we would have lessons he’s like, you need to start writing some songs. And I was like, and I look like look at him. Like he was crazy because I’m like, I don’t know how to write songs. Like I’m not a, you know, you know, I’m not a songwriter. And, and it’s funny because in my early 20s There was a time where I would write out songs just for the fun of it. And you know, looking back now I’m like that was and he’s told me he’s like, you know, your true calling was to do music and songwriting and stuff. And so, you know, fast forward I’m in my 40s, I, He keeps asking and asking so I finally start to write some songs and lo and behold, some songs came and then we started you know, collaborating together. We have this like synergy that’s, I think it’s magical. Like I write the lyrics and he helps put the music together. And we just, I can tell him like Mark I want, you know, a cello on this and I want fiddle on this and he knows how to put it In the flow of the story of the song, and it’s just, it’s really, really fun. And so my musical journey really started when I was a child in the choir at church, doing the bells and singing. And then I was in this other group as a teenager in church called heavens light. And, you know, and then it’s always been a part of me, but I just never really thought that it was something I could do for a career. Yes.

5:28 And I think that’s the case for so many people. I’m sure that’s part of the reason why you went straight into you know, the medical field out of school. We your parents encouraging about music when you were a kid, but then you were getting mixed messages about it as a career, or what was it like as a, as a kid for you.

5:50 I think it wasn’t more of my parents, my parents were more of like, get a steady job, get, you know, get something that has good benefits or retirement, my dad was in the Navy. So my mom was a homemaker, she stayed home. And I think more so in high school to just the, you know, there was that stigma of artists have, you know, the artists were just kind of free floaters. And, you know, there wasn’t, and nobody really took him seriously. I mean, at least, you know, the ones that I were was around wasn’t, you know, something that you would you would do for a career. And so, you know, looking back, I wish thing I would have, you know, kind of stayed with it. But if at all, you know, our divine timing, and our journey all happens the way it should like, the way it is right now is like perfect. And the, you know, Mark and I collaborating, it’s just so much fun. So, yeah, it just, it just wasn’t really on my radar. I didn’t really ever think I could do that. You know, yeah, that’s rare.

6:57  But it’s just so interesting to hear where you’re came from, it sounds like you had opportunities to do music in high school that were very rewarding as well.

7:06 Yeah, yeah. And, you know, I think because I sing as a little kid. And in church and in high school, you know, I did solos in front of the whole high school, and people look at me, and they’re like, Wow, I can’t believe you did that. And I’m like, I can’t believe I did it either. But I just think because I was around music growing up, it was just natural for me, you know, even though I didn’t feel like I had the best voice. I just really enjoyed doing it.

7:33 that’s wonderful that you got back to it again. I’m so pleased. And and did you find working with a guitar and singing with the guitar different to singing? Like standing up in front of people, you know, did you find using the instrument of the guitar helpful or kind of like a juggling thing for you.

7:54  So when I first started playing and singing, it looks way more challenging than it is when you watch somebody like to actually start strum and sing and put emotion into you know, you’re really wanting to put emotion into the song and, but you’re concentrating on playing the guitar. So it took a while for me to really get comfortable with the guitar and me feeling like everything was all one. Versus like, I was singing and I was playing guitar. So it took some time and a lot of practice. And I remember marks like, you know, I’m like, this is a lot harder than I thought it would be. And he’s like, just kind of practice, practice, practice every day. I mean, it’s really just be feeling that the guitar is really kind of like one with your body. You know, like, you can feel it and then like, your music and your voice will come out with that melody that you’re playing.

8:54 what kind of music do you like the best? Like what kind of music do you sing most?

9:00 I would say I love country. Country is probably my favorite. I love country music. But my band and I. I have a band and we play like you know dive bars here in San Diego’s and we played 70s 80s and 90s music cover tunes. So we love like the old rock. We’re all 80s people so we’re like, you know Pat Benatar and heart and the Eagles and you know, those types of so those are big, fun. Yeah.

9:34 Do you have any tips that you can give to anyone for that powerful kind of singing? Because that’s not something everybody knows how to do naturally. Was that something that you were good at? Naturally, or did you have to develop that?

9:48  I think, you know, when I was in high school, a lot of people said like, wow, you can belt out songs like I’d go to karaoke and sing like a Whitney Houston song. And, but it really I think Now that I have a band and I’m, you know, singing in the band, and you know, doing these cover tunes, it’s really kind of just stepping into when I think some of those songs I have to, and I’ve heard this before with other artists that you just kind of become a different person, you have to look at your, you really have to embody that artist in your, in your whole being, yeah, to really, like, share that type of song, because some of those songs are really difficult to sing. So it’s really just kind of embodying like their energy and to your song. And when you’re singing, and having fun with it, like not taking it so seriously.

10:39 Yes, you can’t be self-conscious and sing a song like that. You have to throw yourself into it. And I know from the study that I’ve done on because it’s not my natural way of singing is a little more sweet and kind of more pure than the than strong, something that I’ve only learned how to do in the last few years. But it’s a very physical type of singing, it requires a lot of physical postural alignment and, and, and really delicate balance between the act, the breath and the sound. So it’s lovely that, you know, and like that most people who do it, I figured out how to do it as a kid, you know what I mean? And they didn’t learn it later. So it’s really cool. I’m just so excited to get down to San Diego, and here, you know, this is gonna have to happen. So, did you have any confidence issues as a kid around music?

11:30  Oh, gosh, yeah, I, you know, there’s always that person that was in your group that was so good, or it’s so much better, or, you know, didn’t crack their voice or just, you know, was pitch perfect all the time. And, you know, there was a lot of comparison going up growing up, and in those groups of, you know, that I, I’m not as good as them or it didn’t come naturally to me, I had to work at it. And, and that was, you know, certainly, especially when I got into high school, because, you know, things socially are just bit more challenging. And you’re just really going through your, your own personal thing of finding out who you are, and, you know, judging and all that stuff, limiting beliefs of not feeling like you’re worthy enough. And so those things certainly, like came into play, I think, when I was when I was growing up, and then when I got to my 40s, then I was just like, I don’t, you know, you get more wisdom, and you get to a point where you really don’t care about, about those things anymore. So now it’s just, it’s really, it’s a lot of fun because I don’t care about you know, their times, like my band I play and I’ll be like, oh, man, I totally messed up that song. And like, somebody else will mess up the song and we just laugh about it. Like we don’t even like you know, it’s not a big deal.

12:57  I like that approach because I think more people would get involved and would do more music if they took things a little lighter. And there is obviously there’s that there is a place for very pure and very perfect music. But we need music in our everyday lives and we need average ordinary people to be participating and if we’re too perfectionist about it, we don’t even go there.

13:22  Yeah, and that’s you know, the thing you know, I work with clients, you know, who are speakers and stuff and the thing is when you do make a mistake or when you crack your voice or when it really connects you to other people because they look at you as like oh they’re not perfect you know like we’re not perfect beings when you are trying to be this perfect person or performing in a way that’s not really authentic then you know you’re not connecting to the people that are watching you so we just go have fun however it shows up you know if it’s that we were on the wrong key playing guitar or whatever, I had a cape on the I had my cape on the wrong frets playing this song the entire song and my guitar player next to me kept looking at me and I’m like something sounds really find out my cable was on there.

14:18 that is that’s not good. That’s definitely not good. Guitar being attitude as well, that’s really important that we get those things right. But yeah, you have to let it go. I remember singing a song. And I sang make you feel My Love by Adele with a jazz guitarist. And because the chords were being played in a very open way, I came in and sang a part of the song in the wrong place. I played I sang the bridge or I skipped the bridge and went straight to the chorus or something. And afterwards, I was like, Oh, thank God it sounded jazzy because people will just think it was me trying to be extra cool and jazzy.

14:52 Like wow, she’s really making it her own.

14:55 Exactly. So I know that your journey has been quite tough at times, as well, and that you’ve been inspired through tragedy to really get your song, your one of your songs out there. Would you like to tell us a little bit about that?

15:10 Yeah. So after my, my career in forensics, I actually quit my job cold turkey in my 40s, I was 46 years old, and I went to pursue my why, like, what my why was in this lifetime. And about a year after that my sister passed away from colon cancer. And so, I mean, divine timing, like, I wouldn’t have gotten to spend all that time with her, before she passed away, had I not quit my job and become an entrepreneur and was able to have, you know, a laptop lifestyle of work, where I could work on my, you know, laptop and go wherever I need to go. And then, so mark, and I were doing, you know, that’s I probably started writing, taking writing seriously, in 2015. And the day after she passed away from cancer from colon cancer, I, I wrote a song about her, her journey of her cancer journey, and it was my interpretation of what she had gone through. And it was just, you know, I was so devastated when she passed away. And it was just a way for me to, you know, express my grief and I journal a lot. So I was just writing down and writing, writing and, you know, I started writing and the song came out. And a couple of weeks after she passed away, we had her celebration of life and mark, and I performed it at her celebration of life. And it was really, it was really nice and then Mark and I released it on like iTunes, and Amazon music and a couple places, and we just thought we would raise some money to whatever, you know, we got from that song, we would raise money to support a colon cancer group here in San Diego and honor my sister. And, and then last year, during the pandemic, I was sitting here at my desk, and, you know, I was really, I think the pandemic was a time of reflection for me, like, what am I doing with my life, you know, what’s serving me what’s not, and, and that’s when, you know, this idea came of me using the song to advocate for colon cancer awareness. So I created a lyric video, encasing messaging around colon cancer statistics and facts. And I used my sister song and her story to be in that video. And I just started reaching out to colon cancer groups and sharing with them her story so that we could together bring awareness for colon cancer, because it’s one of the most preventable and treatable cancers out there, it’s the second leading cause of death for all cancers. And a lot of people skip their colonoscopies because they feel fine. And the thing with colon cancer is, is that, you know, the Mayo Clinic has said, many people with colon cancer don’t have symptoms, because it’s a very slow growing type of cancer. So, so I started reaching out, and then you know, it kind of evolved from there, like people were writing back saying it moved them to tears, I performed at the virtual concert, mark and I did that song for their virtual concert fundraiser for the colon cancer foundation. And then that is where I, you know, my idea for the TEDx stage evolved, I wanted to share with others how they could advocate for something through music, because music is so powerful, and advocating is powerful, and you put a story, you know, in a song, and then you, you know, wrap that with the cause, like, whatever cause it is that you’re advocating for, then it really can make a bigger impact, I think, and, and I saw that with what I did with my sisters and reaching out to colon cancer groups. So, so I shared that on the TEDx stage last October. And, you know, I’m been an advocate not only for my sister and for others, and, you know, I have a medical background, being a paramedic, which is great, because I know a lot about the body. And but in 2008, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to advocate for myself too. So advocating, I feel has always been a part of my journey. I think music and advocating are the two things that you know, really embody who I am and what’s always been a part of me. So now, you know, fast forward 20-30 years after, what am I going to do in life in high school? You know, I’m combining those two things together to help others, you know, make a big, you know, making a big impact on the human collective

19:40 was beautiful. I mean, it’s so powerful because we know that songs affect us differently than spoken word. You know, we can say things through music, that are very hard to speak out loud, and they can really help us as well from an emotional perspective because music helps bring us deeper into our heart space. So, I mean, anything that helps. It’s almost like a healing process as well through song. But it’s also it’s about raising awareness through song as well.

20:13 Yeah, yeah, I mean, we we’ve all experienced it many times being at concerts are venues where you have a group of people together, and they are, you know, really all united through music, it doesn’t matter what your religious beliefs are, or your political beliefs are or anything that is not even considered, because you’re all there for like, the music and the, you know, the experience. And so, music can, I think, really, hopefully shift the way we look at certain things where we might, you know, be more open to other people’s causes, or whatever it is that their perspective is on something that we might not, you know, really see. So, I think, you know, combining the both is, you know, is just a powerful tool.

21:05 Definitely, I, you mentioned that you had a brain tumor, correct. You’d like to tell us that story of how you had to advocate for yourself in that situation, because I feel like situations like that. And people who end up in those situations obviously have to take a very strong stance, with their medical providers. And I haven’t heard a lot of stories of anyone dealing with that. So I’d love to, if you don’t mind, tell us a little bit about how you got the strength, and you know, how you followed you what you felt within you that needed to happen.

21:41 Yeah, so I, I was pregnant with my second child. And at the end of my pregnancy, in my third trimester, I was having very severe vertigo, I was having dizziness, just these dizzy spells would come up. And, you know, it would like take me to the ground. So I went to my doctor, I was like, I’m having this really bad vertigo. And they’re like, it’s, it’s probably like, all the swelling in your body right now. Because I was like, ready, you know, two weeks from like, a few weeks from having my baby. And they said, you know, once you have your baby, all that swelling will subside, and you’ll, it’ll probably go away. And so I had my daughter, and you know, several weeks after having her, they didn’t go away, they got worse. And so I went back to my doctor, I’m like, something’s wrong, like, I know, something’s not right. Like, I’ve never had this before. And so she sent me to an EMT at your nose, throat doctor, and they wanted me to go to physical therapy. And I said, No, I said, I want an MRI. And I just intuitively I knew something was wrong. And you know, this is the thing with our bodies, we’ve lived with our body our entire life. So we know our body better than anybody else. So when you feel like something is wrong, it’s okay to tell the doctor what you want, they’re there for us. So I think there’s this perception of, you know, the person in the white coat standing in front of you is whatever they say you have to do. And that’s just not the truth. When you feel like there’s something that’s not right with you, you need to speak up and advocate for yourself. And I remember sitting with him, and he didn’t know I had a medical background, but I, you know, and I knew my body. And I said, you know, these are the reasons I think I need to have an MRI and we kind of like went round and round. And finally, he agreed. And I had my MRI, and then they found the brain tumor. And I’ll never forget him calling me saying, well, we actually found something. And I thought, you know, maybe next time he’ll listen to his patients a little bit more, because, you know, the doctors and you know, I’m not trying to down doctors at all, there’s amazing physicians out there, but they’re there don’t spend enough time with the patients. You know, it’s just like, you get one, you know, they’re when they’re thinking about the next person. So, you know, it’s really like listening to yourself and speaking up and just not even like being confrontational, but just asking questions like, well, why can I or this is what I’m feeling. I’ve never had this before, and, you know, kind of really sharing what your experiences is, so that they’ll, you know, really listened to you. And then after that that led to a year long journey of you know, kind of waiting to see what was going on with the tumor. I most of the tumors that I the tumor that I had was mostly benign. They’re rarely malignant, and they go off the growth and mine ended up growing really fast, a lot and a short period of time. So that’s what their concern was. So then I needed treatment. And then when I found out what treatment I wanted, because I did a lot of research on it because it was 1% of all brain tumors is very rare. And my insurance company denied it. And so then I had to advocate for myself to get the treat. When I wanted and, and I did, I, I did all the research, you know, put my case together and I gave it to an attorney and we ended up winning. So you know, there’s always a way to get what you feel is best for your body to get it done. It’s just being persistent. And, you know, really being vocal about it and speaking up on it,

25:21 which all comes back to, you know, knowing that your voice has value and that I feel like that hierarchy thing that you’re talking about, you know, where the person in the white coat is seen as more knowledgeable. When you’re actually the person living in your body. You’re experiencing those symptoms. Yes. So there’s a lot of wisdom in that. And thank you for sharing that story. Yeah, I wanted to kind of ask you, if singing has any had any surprising effect in your life? Has it done anything you weren’t expecting it to? Mm hmm.

26:01 it certainly has given me I feel like it’s been a catalyst for giving me confidence. You can relate to this. Yeah. Because when you are vulnerable, and you get up in front of people and you saying, you know, it’s a very, I mean, if there’s so many things about it, like it’s not only like, freeing, it’s cathartic, it’s artistic, it’s, it’s you completely loving yourself fully in that moment. And for your own, like, for your own personal growth. I don’t even know what there is out there that you could do more than you know, when you sing. That really helps you to really step into who you truly are. And loving all that you are. So singing for me has been. It’s, it’s been a lot. I mean, it’s been a teacher, it’s been confidence. It’s been creative. It’s been expansive in many ways. And it’s been fun, like, it’s just fun. Like, who doesn’t love singing in their car in the shower? It’s like, why aren’t we all singing like that all the time? Like, why do we hold it for like, certain places, like my daughter gets in the shower, and she sings the whole time? And she comes down, she seems to annoys her brother, but like, you know, there’s times and spaces where like, we feel comfortable, like really sharing ourselves, but we don’t and, and, you know, when we step out of the car, when we step out of the shower, it’s so interesting to me.

27:40  Yes, it really is, it’s, it’s, I definitely think there’s something to that where gaining or preparing or, you know, deciding that you’re going to sing outside of that space on your own takes a certain amount of self-confidence. And it takes you on a journey of personal development, because to believe that your voice is valuable enough for someone to sit and listen to you for like three minutes straight, is takes a certain amount of self-belief. And I believe everybody needs to believe in themselves because we all are the only person in our own skin. No one can replace me can’t replace you or shot can’t replace any of you who are listening, no one else can be who you are right now. And the people that you meet, and the situations that you’re in, no one else is going to be in those exact situations in the way that you are going to be in those exact situations. So don’t forget how important you are. Don’t forget that you’re the only one at certain times to say the thing that needs to be said. And to sing what needs to be sung about. And yeah, I’ve loved talking to you about all of the, the passion that you have for for singing as a form of, of, it’s almost like teaching someone you know about an issue that people would often avoid even hearing about or even thinking about. So I’m really pleased that you got to share your story with our listeners. Thank you so much.

29:11 yeah, thank you so much for having me. I appreciate being here. And I love what you do. And I look forward to learning more from you.

29:19 Oh, I’m so excited about that. Would you have anything else that you’d like to say to our listeners before we start wrapping things up?

29:27  The only thing I could say is you know been through what I’ve been through like you know, going through my brain tumor and seeing my sister pass away like don’t let life go by without you taking a chance. Because I’ve learned through my experiences and you know, I was around a lot of death. You know, I was around it as a paramedic. I was around in forensics I mean horrible deaths and forensics and my diagnosis scene my sister like I will not leave this earth with any should have could have would have and I want I would love everybody Ready to just really take a chance and like trust themselves and, and just have fun with life, you know, like it goes by so fast. And you know, if singing is something that you’ve always wanted to do, just go do it. Like, and if you don’t know how to find somebody to help you like, I’m a huge believer of finding a coach to help you do it, like I jumped into the entrepreneurial world, I had no idea what to do, I hired a coach to help me figure it out. So you know, have somebody help you whatever that might be, maybe it’s writing a book, maybe it’s, you know, whatever it is that you’ve your little child in, you has always wanted to do just go do it.

30:39 that’s beautiful. Thank you so much. Now let’s let everybody know a little bit about how to find out about you, obviously, I’ll put your links and everything in the show notes with the podcast. And I know that you also help people to present and develop their own TEDx Talk topic. And so would you like to say a little bit about that before you wrap it up?

31:03 Yeah, so my, what I do with clients is I really help them share their voice on different media platforms. So ones on podcast, one is helping them get clear for their idea for the TEDx stage. I’m not affiliated with Ted, but I love their, their, their mission, and like what they do and how they really have people share their voice on a global stage. And then the other one is through music. So it’s really sharing your story through music and advocating through music. So those are the things that I love to do. And you can find me Yeah, you’ll put the link in, but Rachelle And I’m on Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn.

31:42 thank you so much for joining us today. Rachelle, it’s been an absolute pleasure, so grateful to you that your story is out there and that you are brave enough to share some of the most vulnerable times of your life in this way. And it’s a real honor and a pleasure. Thank you.

31:59 thank you so much for having me.

32:02 thank you everyone for listening. We’ll see you again at the next episode of the competence in singing podcast. Bye bye.

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