Pursuing any passion as a career can feel like a far-fetched dream, especially when you're past an age where it seems possible to start over.
On this episode of The Persevere Podcast, host Patty Post of Checkable Health is speaking with musician Gina Powers, who, after spending much of her life working in various industries, took the leap to go after her dream of singing and writing music. It took years of "perseverance", but Gina recently landed a record deal - and the story of how her label found her is a surprising one!
Gina takes us through the journey of songwriting, composing music with peers, and recording. She and Patty also discuss the skills required to be an entrepreneur, such as motivation and confidence, whether in front of a group of investors, clients, or a large audience at a show.
Gina also talks openly about the struggle to get where she is and the mindset shift that allowed her to celebrate her big win. Tune in to experience this joyride and Gina's happy ending because of her passion for music! Or maybe this is just her new beginning...Listen now!
Topics discussed in this episode:
- Gina’s journey in the music industry
- The surprising story of her getting a record deal
- Connecting with an audience
- Gina’s early love for music
- Taking the leap to follow your passion
Connect with Gina Powers:
Find Patty Post:
This episode was produced by Podcast Boutique http://podcastboutique.com
0:00:02.7 S1: Welcome to The Persevere Podcast, powered by Checkable Medical and hosted by Patty Post, a female founder, entrepreneur, wife and mother of three, doing all of the things. The strength to persevere in business is powered by passion, grit, and hard work. The Persevere Podcast is for entrepreneurs and business leaders who set out to innovate and change the world with their ideas. Whether it's fundraising your startup, product development, marketing, branding, or scaling your existing business, this podcast is for you. We'll discuss everything it takes to persevere and build the business you've always dreamed of. Let's make it happen.
0:00:49.7 S2: Welcome to The Persevere Podcast. Hello, I'm Patty Post, founder and CEO of Checkable Health. And I started this podcast because I was experiencing loneliness and solitude as a solo founder, and I literally had no one to turn to, and I also couldn't find relevant content that founders of high-tech startups really needed, so like the true entrepreneur that I am, I decided to do it myself. And thus was born The Persevere Podcast. So if you're new to this podcast, I love to interview entrepreneurs and hear about their stories of how they build their business. And Gina, thank you so much for joining me on The Persevere Podcast.
0:01:30.9 S1: Thank you so much for having me. What an exciting way to start a Monday.
0:01:34.8 S2: I know, I love to say, make it happen Monday. And we are making it happen, aren’t we?
0:01:40.1 S1: We surely are.
0:01:41.8 S2: So Gina, you have a band. The band is The Gina Powers Band, and you are a musician, and I'd like to say you are an entrepreneur as well. So welcome to the podcast. And today we're gonna talk about the story of you being a musician, and how you came to this spot of being a musician. And I'd love to share with the audience what you're creating in the world, how you're doing it, the journey of being a musician and, let's just let the conversation go, just go naturally. So to start off with, tell us about the type of music that you produce, Gina.
0:02:22.1 S1: Well, the type of music I generally write has a large swath of genre, right, so I have some that’s kind of more singer-songwriter, some that's a little country, some that's a little rock, and some that's pop. I just kind of let the song become what it wants to become in the creative process, so that's been a fun exploration. And then I also have the songs that I sing that aren't necessarily always the songs that I write. And so the actual performance of the song versus the writing of the song are two different creative processes. It's been fun to explore different genres, and it's been fun to explore different instrumentations as well.
0:03:07.2 S2: So for those of us that are not part of the music industry, tell us about that; you either write your song and then you produce it, and you could potentially sell it to someone else. Correct. Or you take a look at all of these different songs and then use them and produce them, but someone else has written them. That's correct. And how do you go about that process of choosing that? Do you have a team that helps you with that?
0:03:37.2 S1: Well, right, so for instance, prior to signing with a label out of Nashville, which was a huge and exciting time for me, but prior to that everything that I released, and recorded and released for sale is all original work. Written originally by myself, I bring the lyrics and the melody and the arrangement to the band, and then the band uses their particular area of expertise to craft their part. So they help compose, then what becomes the instrumentation for that final song, and then we take it into a recording studio. We've got a really good recording studio in our area, who's another entrepreneur who's fantastic, Kevin Racer out of Osage, [MN], and we take that and we go into the studio and then we create the finished song. Now, since I signed the record deal, I had the opportunity to sing three singles that will be on an album when it is finalized, that were written by the legendary Jerry Foster. He's a hall of fame, Country Music Hall of Fame writer, and he, and along with Bill Rice, his songwriting partner over their career to this day, are still the most highly awarded ASCAP songwriting team, and they’ve won over 550 awards for their songwriting.
0:04:58.4 S1: Yes, it's pretty incredible. From somewhere in the late 50s, early 60s through the 90s. So it's pretty cool. So I got to sing those songs, those were already produced tracks; they had been produced in Nashville. The instrumentation was already there, it was just a matter of me putting the vocal track in place, which I was able to do here in Osage. Headed back down to Nashville, and thanks to technology and all of that, they assembled that and released those. And those are already streaming on Spotify. Wow. It's hard to believe that the music is not only streaming, but it's being played on the radio. Pretty exciting stuff.
0:05:37.5 S2: Well, that's so cool.
0:05:38.6 S1: So now, we just did those produced tracks, we're gonna go ahead and we have already been in the studio, we're gonna go ahead and assemble then the rest of the original songs that Mr. Foster, the head of my label, has chosen as the ones of mine that he really thinks would be great to fit on this particular album. We’re going to put those together and whammy bammy, we're gonna have an album that's mixed with these songs written by this amazing and legendary songwriter, and my original work. It's pretty crazy to think that, you know, Gina from Fargo gets to have a record with this cool and legendary songwriter. Yes. But the journey to get to there has been a long and winding one for sure.
0:06:25.7 S2: So you, one, congratulations. I don't think we paused enough as entrepreneurs to reflect back like, wow, that journey was long and windy and here I am, and let's sit and rejoice in this for a moment. So congratulations. Thank you. Getting signed by a label, from my perspective, when I think of... I think of it like raising money or having a signed partnership, or a signed deal with a distributor, tell us about that, of finding someone that can sign you for a label; what was that process like?
0:07:04.8 S1: Well, the process happened really quite by... I'm not gonna say by accident because of course, that's always been a hope and a dream, but the way it happened really felt almost universally ordained. I went to Nashville to visit and just literally check it out. I had never been there, and I certainly had never performed there, and Nashville for whatever reason to me, seemed like just even going there seemed like some far-off brass ring thing. And so what I ended up doing was I went to Nashville because I had a good friend both down there, a fellow colleague, and he, along with some other musicians were kinda just setting up and getting their thing going in Nashville and said that I was welcome. So I came down there and I actually didn't stay with them that first time, I went down with my friend from high school. I called her up and I said, hey, you wanna go to Nashville? And she said, let's go! And away we went. But I did meet up with those friends and they told me how to get an open mic slot at a place called Commodore. And so that's what I did, I went in at six and I stayed for their round and I signed up for the open mic. And then at 10, at the end of the night, there's three slots for open mic and I was able to get one, so I performed. Sweet.
0:08:28.2 S1: I know it, right? That's pretty exciting. It's more welcoming than it sounds. So I went and I performed and I got invited back. And so I got invited back to do my own round, which meant I was gonna get to do three songs, and when I did that, it happened to be on a night when the legendary Jerry Foster was the featured songwriter, and he heard my songs, and the next day he was talking to me about a deal. And that was on my trip in April, and we finalized the deal and signed at the end of June, so it took some time just to talk about it, and for me to learn about it and absorb what was happening, and shift my identity from this grinding gears, got a few gigs a week, just paying the bills kind of musician. And loving it, don't get me wrong, I love playing music, and it was hard and it was hard work, and I was on my grind, but I was on my grind doing something that I am compelled to do. And so even though it was hard work, I was gonna keep going regardless. So to get this deal was a mind shift of no longer am I trying to look at myself as a local working artist, just trying to get the gigs to pay the bills and have a life as a musician, but now the opportunity to potentially have my music career, and on a larger scale than I could ever do on my own.
0:09:58.7 S1: And so there was the mind shift that needed to happen and all of that. So it's been an incredible journey. One of the first things I did, crazy as it might sound, when I got the deal and I knew that it was gonna happen, was I jumped on a plane, flew first class, upgraded to the BMW, and I just thought, I just wanna sit with this and feel. I don't know what it feels like to have achieved a level of success where it feels like the celebration is appropriate. It was really neat to get to do that, and I went to see my god-sister down in Orlando who was thrilled to receive me and we had a glorious time. And then I flew home and just got started with whatever this is gonna be. So it's been... It really happened that fast. People say you don't get discovered like that; you do, you can, it can happen. Right place, right time, right impulse, I followed it and it worked out for me. It didn't happen overnight. It did, in the instant, that moment was an overnight moment, but that 10 years of grinding really hard, on my game to just do my best to be the best musician I can and to try and manage being an entrepreneur as a musician. It’s a different kind of industry.
0:11:20.6 S2: Oh yeah, and you have to... Something that I say with sales is that you just have to show up every day, and you can't take a day off. It's very much like a musician, you have to show up even if there's only two people or no people at your gig, you still have to perform and you never know who's gonna walk through those doors. And it's practice, right? You're practicing every time that you perform. Very cool. Now, tell me, in the audience, I would say, thinking of performing, it's like standing up and speaking in front of a room of others is one of the most terrifying things for people. And from your aspect, as you said that you've been doing it for 10 years, do you still get the butterflies like when you were there at that audition, when there's only three of you? Do you still get nervous, dry mouth, butterflies in your stomach or is that like old hat? And do you have anything that you can share with the audience of how you’ve overcome any nervousness?
0:12:25.9 S1: I get nervous when I'm in an environment that is new to me, when it's a type of show that is at a different level than I'm used to performing at. I take it seriously, but I take every performance seriously. I'm not nervous now in the way that I was when I first started. When you first start, especially as a solo musician or in a band, and you don't necessarily have a lot of experience, everything feels new. Everything is a learning curve from how to hook up the sound, to what to do if you get feedback, just all of the little tiny details, and the devil truly is in the details in that regard, and over time you learn. And so the unknowns or the unknowables, or the not knowing what you don't knows, are less and less. And so there's a level of confidence that just comes with experience, and I think you can see that with seasoned performers. Even when you go and you watch them on stage, those that have been gigging for a while, you can just, they have an ease about them in a way they present themselves on stage. I still get nervous in the sense that although I have a lot of public-speaking experience and I've done that in previous careers, and then work with media and all of those, when you're singing, especially original work, or performing original work, it feels like you're doing something a little bit more vulnerable, at least for me. I think for me writing a speech to pep up an audience is a completely different animal than singing a song that's written from heartfelt experience or whatever.
0:14:05.4 S1: And so that level of vulnerability is something that for me, I just had to get over. I really just had to get into a mind space of, they're here to see you do what they're not able to do, for instance, maybe. Like, one of the things that I think people appreciate about performers is the fact that you can suspend the mask for a while and you can connect as a human being on a real human level. And so I think when I am able to just get into that mind space well, there are no nerves, it's just pure exhilaration, like I can't even describe it.
0:14:48.3 S2: And you love it.
0:14:49.1 S1: I love it.
0:14:50.0 S2: That's amazing. So you have a band that you perform with, and working with them, how long have you worked with this group?
0:15:00.2 S1: Actually, my bass player, Mitch Rittenbach, and I were just discussing this last evening. We started playing together in January of 2017, and he's the longest band member. So it's a long time in six years. And then Russ Pfaff has been with us for four, I believe, and then Nathan [Pitcher] was with us back in January 2017, and then he left for a while and he's returned. And so he's been back with us now since this summer. So besides the fact that we've played together in a band, we taught together, Nathan, Mitchell and I taught together for quite a long number of years. And then we also have played in other ensembles together, even in the midst of all of this. So even when Nathan wasn't playing in the Gina Powers Band, he and I were playing together, doing the Powers and Pitcher Duo. Which we still do, we still love to do; we love to sing the harmonies and do more folky stuff sometimes. So yeah, we've been playing together a long time. I think when I added it up, we've got a couple of hundred years of musical experience between all of us, and so it's really fun to build that chemistry and to see it come out on stage.
0:16:16.8 S2: And that's what I read, is that you really started as a 12-year-old, your Dad put a guitar in your hands and that was where it started. Can you tell us about that?
0:16:28.6 S1: Well I’ve always sung even when I was tiny-tiny. And in fact, I think I was humming and singing before I was speaking audible sentences, or that people could understand. But what I really wanted to do was play piano, and nobody at that time in my household knew how to play piano, even though we had one. But my father knew some chords on the guitar, so he handed me an old guitar, old nylon-string guitar, a little parlor guitar, and taught me how to play Puff the Magic Dragon. It was three chords, G, C, and D. And at this time, we lived in Tahoe, we were living in the mountains and there were certainly no YouTube and no chord books, and so I just kind of learned my own funky way of playing the best I could with the sounds I heard. And so that's even still impacts how I hear music to this day, I think. In fact, speaking of Mitch, who plays bass so phenomenally well, he was saying, you don't hear music the way everybody hears music, it's really... You can tell just by the way you interact with it in movement. So there's something I think, to be said for what can come from, every teacher on the planet is gonna email me over this, but what can come from a lack of formal training. The creativity and uniqueness that can come from that is...
0:17:54.3 S1: And so I've never been a rule follower, really, I'm not entirely true. I was in the military and I can follow the rules and I can walk a line, but when it comes to doing things, I like to do it my own way. And so it’s the same with singing, which is really my first love and the only reason I wanted to play an instrument was because I wanted to have music that I could sing to. That I could have access to no matter what. So I sang out of the record collection that we had that was staggering. Oh, if I had my hands on that record collection today, many years ago had been lost, but everything from Billie Holiday to Barbara Streisand, to Sade, to Rod Stewart, Billy Joel, and Led Zeppelin, and all my brother’s. I sang everything. Carole King, Bonnie Raitt, if I could get my hands on it. Joan Baez, Dolly Parton and my dad would yell, that sounds like a chipmunk. All of it, and I would dance to it and I would listen and I would play it on the record player, and then I had a record player in my room and I would play it in there and I would dance all over.
0:18:59.1 S1: I just really loved to sing it and feel the energy of music and the way it feels. And as a tangible vibration inside the body, and then you release it and it just feels so cathartic.
0:19:16.3 S2: You definitely have a passion for it. So you mentioned military, how, so you've been doing this for 10 years. Did you have a career, a pre-musician career, being a bona fide, I'm gonna say a bonafide musician where you're making a living doing it. That's very entrepreneurial of you, because most people, when they get in their career, they stay in it through the long haul and they're like, gosh, I wish I would have. How did you decide to take the leap and be a musician?
0:19:52.9 S1: Well, my career path has been a windy one as well, and I believe now looking back, being a little bit older, 52, so I've got some context and some history to look back on. I was always trying to find being a musician and I just couldn't find a route into it. I had a career in human services that I'm very proud of, I was in the military as a younger person, I've done property management. I've done so many different types of job functions that come to a place of abandoning a formal and traditional job type of thing, really was more out of a place of desperation is the wrong word, but on a level maybe a little. Like, I don't fit in a world, I just never have, and I've tried so hard to and it just doesn't work for me. I end up getting depressed and feeling frustrated, and so I got to this point where I realized, you know at coming on 40 at the time, it's a line from one of my favorite movies, Out of Africa with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, and he says, “I don't wanna wake up at the end of someone else's life.” And that line would always kind of run in the back of my head, and I guess that at 40 I realized...
0:21:18.2 S1: I don't wanna wake up at the end of my life having not lived out who I authentically believe myself to be, so I'm gonna take this risk. I know God knows I need to eat, I trust that. And I'm just going to give it a try. I also had the support and encouragement of my former husband who’s still my dear friend, and who we wrote together, he and I wrote together. And so I had the desire, the supporter and the guts I guess, to just say I can't end my life, not having tried.
0:21:56.7 S2: That is what propels you into like, okay, I'm gonna go after it. And when there's like, well, what's the worst-case scenario? Did you do a worst-case scenario type of situation like, I’ll have to live in my van or I'll have to move in with my parents, something like that?
0:22:16.8 S1: You know, in truth, as I mentioned, I've had a storied life and I have experienced instances of homelessness in my life. When you've experienced that and know that you can probably figure out a way, other than pride being bruised, to handle anything you might encounter, that gives you a little bit more courage, I think. So did I think of that as a possibility? I don't think I allowed myself to go there. I just don't think failure was an option. Nice. Yeah. But it was a...I mean, I’d be lying if I didn't say that there was fear there for sure. That's what kept me going on those days when I was tired. Yes. It's a very physical job, and I'm not 22.
0:23:16.4 S2: It has to be exhausting, and traveling itself is exhausting, but then performing. I think even us being on this podcast, the prep of doing it, and then you do the interview and then you're done, and it's a lot like performing. It kind of sucks the energy out of you, but you've gotta refill that tank and you've gotta do it again the next day, and sometimes you probably were doing multiple gigs in a day to get by. Well, that's... Anyone that's listening that, I always encourage, it's never too late. It's never too late to go after what you aspire to be. In a new version, we can always reinvent ourselves, but you have to be willing to take risks. You have to be willing to have the confidence and put yourself out there just like a musician does, a performer does. You put yourself out there and people are gonna judge you, and we're always gonna have people that say that we aren’t doing it as well as their perception of what is good, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter, right? You're living out your dream. That's right.
0:24:27.3 S1: Yeah, and to be honest with you, the journey to that record deal was about as delicious as anything I've ever experienced really. The hard times make it even more delicious and satisfying. And so I just do think that when you know that what you really wanna do is, I don't know, make kites, brew coffee, if that's really what you wanna do. I do think that we do give ourselves a lot of reasons that are very legitimate, my family relies on me, they depend on my income and all of those things, but what better reason to do what you are passionate about? And what an opportunity to teach our kids and our grandkids and our family members, and our friends and all of those, by example of saying, you can live a life of courage, just being your authentic self that is far more satisfying and delicious than going to a job that you don't love, that asks you to be less than you truly are in order to get that reward of a paycheck. Now, I'm a pragmatic human, an individual, and bills are bills and people need to eat, and pay for for things, but I'll tell you what, I have more satisfaction in my life now than I ever have, and I've gotten to a level far beyond anything I really thought it was realistic, especially at my age. So let that be an open door that you listeners can feel encouraged to walk through and say, you know what, it might be a risk, but I'm gonna do it, 'Cause I'll tell you what, that anxiety that I gotta feed my family and I gotta pay my bills, and all that stuff, that will propel you.
0:26:14.6 S1: That will make you be more creative. It might wear you out a little bit, but that's okay, because when you follow your heart and you're truly following your passion, you're gonna be given exactly the right thought at the right time, and you're gonna be able to follow that to the next right thing and it's gonna lead you down the path farther and farther.
0:26:37.6 S2: And you gotta keep persevering. Right, that's what The Persevere Podcast is, right? Gotta keep persevering. Well, Gina, thank you so much for joining us today, and what's the best way for people to follow you on social, because then they can keep up with everything that you're doing in 2023. You know, The Gina Powers Band, you can’t go wrong with that.
0:26:58.4 S1: That will get you to my Facebook page and it will get you to YouTube. Something will pull up in a Google search under that. Save that, Gina Powers music.
0:27:11.2 S2: Excellent, and stream it on Spotify. And find you, find the band on all social channels, and then can we... We love to go to Nashville. Are you putting your gigs on your website, theginapowersband.com?
0:27:29.1 S1: I will be. Right now, I have a lot of stuff going on with that because we're really focused on getting the rest of the singles done and getting the album put together. And I will be in Nashville for all of January, working on doing some songwriting rounds and some different things of that nature, and just working on some of the business details of what it is I do and preparing for the upcoming season, so I'm not gonna be super noisy on the gig front. However, I do have a New Year's Eve gig, and that's gonna be at The Woods and Brainerd with the band. We're super excited about that. So if you're in the Brainerd area on New Year's Eve, we hope to see you, say hi.
0:28:11.3 S2: Oh, amazing. Alright, we'll put that on there too. Great. It was just an absolute pleasure to meet you. Very inspiring story, and thank you for taking the time to share your story with The Persevere Podcast audience and being a guest.
0:28:26.6 S1: Thank you so much, it's really been an exciting opportunity, and persevere is the name of the game, right? Just when it gets the hardest, that's when you need to keep going.
0:28:37.9 S2: Well, that was just a fantastic episode, if you want to be an early adopter and you love The Persevere Podcast, I really encourage you to come over to LinkedIn. I created a group where we can continue the conversation of these podcast episodes, but also let's create community, let's connect with one another. Whether you're raising money, whether you're scaling your business, whether you want to throw out a business idea, business model, come over there and let's talk about it. Thank you so much for tuning in. And until next time, you keep on persevering in business.
0:29:15.0 S1: Thank you for listening to The Persevere Podcast, powered by Checkable Medical. Head over to perseverepodcast.com for notes, links and additional resources from today's show. To continue hearing insights and gaining knowledge from those persevering, succeeding, and making their dream a reality, be sure to subscribe through your favorite podcast app. Now go make it happen.