An Angel Finds Her Voice
It’s a long way from sleeping nightly on a mattress in a station wagon to making an appearance on one of the nation’s top-rated TV shows and knocking everyone’s socks off, but that’s what perseverance gets you. I just can’t believe it’s a family friend I’ve known since she was, like, 13.
NBC’s The Voice is the latest in the genre of talent shows that have sprung up on network television and the debut ratings have been astronomical. In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia some 15 years ago I remember Rebecca Loebe, a determined singer/songwriter-in-the-making, playing for smaller ratings; family and friends. This week, she sang for millions and it was all about heart and grit and determination.
It’s a cool show if you haven’t seen it. At least in these early stages of the competition, the judges of The Voice sit with their backs to the performer because they are judging one thing and one thing only and that’s vocal quality. If you’re good enough, the judges push a little button and their chair turns around to face the artist.
Rebecca was introduced as the “homeless singer.” I understand the allure of painting her that way for purposes of an intruiging story-line, but let’s just say this isn’t your typical case of homelessness. As Rebecca explained on the show, she performs all over the country. She could pay for an apartment she doesn’t live in or she can just hang in her car from gig to gig.
This is an individual who went to the nationally-acclaimed Berkeley School of Music in Boston. This is someone who, through the years, has shown more dedication to her craft and more single-mindedness toward a career than I think any artist I have ever known. Rebecca is homeless by choice. It’s just a practical path to playing as much as possible in as many places as plausible. She’s no bag-lady.
What she is- is an icon for the work ethic. If you love something enough, then your passion is all that matters. Sacrifices are made. Your car becomes your home. Your travel is your life (and probably grist for half your songwriting). This isn’t some spoiled little brat from the LA suburbs slapping a phony video together and posting it on You Tube.
Hell, she’s probably doing pretty much the same thing Woody Guthrie did when he was in his 20’s—except he was sneaking onto freight trains to get to the next town, while Rebecca drives a station-wagon.
I taped her appearance last night and I think tears welled up in my eyes each of the three times I saw that angelic, beautiful face and heard the soulful voice, no doubt carved in part from the life of hard knocks she has chosen to lead in pursuit of her dreams.
She will not be living in her car much longer- I guarantee you that. Get used to nice hotels and maybe even a limo or two over the years ahead—because you’ve earned it, sweetheart. And just wait until they get a load of the songs you write that are ten times better than the tune you covered on NBC this week.
You rock, Rebecca. And your soul and your heart rock too. You’ve always been an inspiration to your family and friends. Now, you’re an inspiration to a whole nation. How friggin’ cool is that?