Article and photos by Laura Rizzotto
How cool is it to see someone who’s been in your Berklee shoes making a living off of her music? Well, my dear musicians, former Berklee student (and Berklee Groove contributing writer!) Rebecca Loebe gave us a little taste of that at the Red Room two weeks ago, and, in a quick chit-chat with The Groove, spilled the beans on how life after Berklee turned out to be.
Rebecca (Becca, to her closest friends) grew up in Atlanta and said she was thrilled to be back in Boston and performing for the third time in The Red Room. “It’s a beautiful space and we can stream live to the BIRN, which I think is fantastic,” she said.
Her intimate performance was around one hour long, just voice and guitar, with mostly original tracks from her new album, Circus Heart. Always with a beautiful glowing smile from ear to ear, Rebecca showed us all how she’s an expert at the art of storytelling. Her positive energy, excitement, and quick jokes got through to the people in the room and made the show a very pleasant experience.
Rebecca gets inspiration from the most unexpected situations. From a “zombie apocalypse” to meeting an 18-year-old boy flying to Chicago to get married, the songwriter manages to translate it all into music. Her rather peculiar background stories behind the songs made her performance that much more interesting. Her lyrics had an element of surprise to them that left us wondering where she’d go next.
Ms. Loebe’s show had the right timing and was very warm. It was like she was an old friend of yours telling you all of these stories about her adventurous lifestyle on the road. She managed to establish a connection with her audience and transformed The Red Room into her own little comfort zone.
Rebecca Loebe was a contestant in the first season of the reality show “The Voice,” and got to perform on national television in front of famous artists such as Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera. She got an email from the producers of the show inviting her to audition and decided to give it a shot. “Being a folk singer, I didn’t think that I’d be the kind of artist the show would be looking for,” Rebecca explains. “It was surreal. I performed on the show twice and they were the scariest performances I’ve ever had. The show ended up calling me back a few times and when I realized it, there I was, face-to-face with Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera.”
In the battle round, Rebecca mentioned she had a hard time facing the performance as a “battle” and got frustrated with the manipulation in the interviewing process. “They basically put everything that they wanted you to say in the form of a question,” she says. “It was crazy.” Watching out for every word she said, Rebecca managed to stay true to herself and show her personality on the air. “I was really glad that they captured my most honest moment in the competition, when I said that I couldn’t ever approach a performance as a battle. It’s against my nature.”
The folk singer/songwriter made sure to emphasize the importance of everything she learned while going to Berklee. “I majored in MP&E, which helped me in a ton of ways. I got a job straight out of school at a studio in South Boston as an audio engineer, and I got to use my access to that studio to record my first album.” Rebecca told The Groove that when she got to Berklee, she didn’t know a thing about recording, but fell in love with the gear immediately. “I was a nerd. I spent all of my free time in the studio.”
A lot of parents out there don’t really believe in a career in the music industry for their kids, but Rebecca’s family thought the opposite. “I think my parents were glad that I decided to study something that could turn into a career. I grew up around music and my family’s been very supportive from the start.”
The singer/songwriter was off to a great start, but taking her first steps as a performing and recording artist wasn’t that easy. “After recording my first album, I booked a tour starting with the east coast. Sometimes I even played for pizza, coffee, or tips, but it’s how I created a fanbase – one person at a time.”
After five years touring full-time, Rebecca feels that the hard work is paying off: “Every year it gets a little bit better, and I’m really excited and proud that I can make a sustainable living with my own music.”
Finally, Rebecca gave our Groovers a little piece of advice: “Network as much as you can. I still run into people that I knew from school. The kids you know at Berklee – not necessarily the ones that were performing in the showcases and got the best grades – are the ones that are going to be in the music industry. You never know who’s going to make it, so it’s good to keep a good relationship with everyone around you and make the best out of it.”