THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
11th January, 2007 0
It was one of her first concerts. Leaving the arena, she was still buzzing with excitement at the lights, the music, and the contagion of the gentile mob that would invariably bellow for an encore. Dizzying and frenetic, her pace was barely matched by her chaperone and companion, Charlie. The older boy, somewhat bemused and intrigued by her chutzpah, could not quell her desire to get to her destination. So he ran, too.
Together, they were making a breakneck retreat to the back of the building. The rain was making it difficult. But she was on a mission. He was back there, somewhere.
Parked behind an arena in Charleston, South Carolina, were several buses; Accommodations for the crew, the management, and the actual super-human for whom the crowd now clamored and the girl now pined. It was rumored that the bands would be taking a ninety-minute, micro hiatus in the comfort of their respective rides to prepare for the next show.
Certainly, he would have no trouble recognizing her if she actually made it onto the bus. In the paint by the numbers, herd-em'-in, herd-em'-out atmosphere of a back stage meet and greet, she had tried to tell him something important. "I have to talk to you!" she said. But he simply directed her to his website and said she could e mail him there. She'd been shepherded off the backstage area and now here she was, heels and elbows, trying to intercept him on break between shows.
She turned the corner, rain-soaked, and gasping for air. Abruptly, she and the nearly forgotten Charlie found themselves looking straight into the front of the bus. She was certain it was the right one because the tour manager, who had already run defense against her earlier in the evening, had just plopped into the driver's seat.
She looked up, and he looked down.
He made direct eye contact.
She stared back.
Turning wearily in his seat, he appeared to be saying something to an invisible someone behind him. He paused, let out a resolute sigh, and got out of his seat. She came running as he climbed down the steps, opened the doors, and shushed her in.
By golly, she'd done it!
Somewhere in the front of her young mind, Angie was determined that the man she was looking for would hear her sing. And from that moment, she would become a superstar!
That was The Formula, after all. Every good story of a determined young performer who stomps her way into the office of the old dog with the big bite has the multi platinum happy ending, right?
As it happened, there were a few realities to factor in. So, for Angie Raulerson, the reward for her precociousness would come in the form of a stick of gum, a pat on the head, and an admonishment to get an education.
Conway Twitty would not take her under his wing and make her a superstar, but he would hear her sing. He would offer a few sage words that would stay with her the rest of her life. And, like any good mentor who is put on the spot, he would send her off on her own to learn about life the way that all fifteen-year-old kids must:
One heartache at a time.
Fast-forward a couple of decades now, to a mother of four who may have lost a little of that chutzpah. But she's gained enough experience to realize the value of the time she got with that Mega Superstar of Country Music so long ago. She still tackles life challenges with gusto, although now, it's more reserved. She still dares to dream about breaking into the record charts, and she still has the benefit of her energy to keep her focused.
But over the years, one heartache at a time, Raulerson has learned the value of life's experiences.
Dabbling in acting, getting cameos in films like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and building a family, Angie saw marriage come and go, and wrote songs about living, dying, and struggling to make sense of a world that didn't always play fair. A world, one might say, that didn't always follow The Formula.
Following that fateful night in South Carolina, Angie Raulerson went on to form her own bands and see some success overseas as a "Nashville" country music singer. She has ranked well in European charts, and has begun to get some recognition in the states.
All of the challenges she has faced aside, Raulerson has done well to promote her country music career. She is currently at number twelve on the Indi National Charts. Two of her singles have been selected as anthems for women's causes, including the one she wrote for her sister, entitled: "It's Her Fight", which has been made into a video to promote breast cancer awareness.
But the success she has seen so far, however welcome, has been hard fought.
Raulerson became a teenage mother with a beautiful baby girl who was born prematurely and suffered numerous complications. Coming into the world at under three pounds, the child, now 18, spent the most of her early life in and out of hospitals, and still suffers complications.
In late1999, Angie's sister Loretta, with whom she was very close, died in her late thirties of an aggressive form of breast cancer. Angie was away when she passed, and when she speaks of it, you understand that some heartache can be hard to learn from. Sometimes, it just doesn't make sense.
Now happily married to a plumber 13 years her senior, Angie lives in The Tri City area with her children and promotes her own career from her home. She left her husband in Florida so that she may be near her other sister, also battling cancer, who resides in Grand Rapids.
Lest you think that Angie Raulerson is the voice of doom and despair, it bears mentioning that her energy and positivism is beyond that of any mortal woman.
As we talk on the phone, setting up a date for an interview, it becomes painfully clear that, even when my addiction to Redbull and Starbucks is taken into full account, I could not be expected to take notes fast enough to keep up with her.
And that's saying something.
Like any artist, Angie can talk about herself. A lot. The difference is, she can do it at roughly Mach 5.
Critics once said of Yngwie Malmsteen that he could squeeze in more notes per square inch than any other guitarist on the planet. It seems to pop into my mind as I talk to this down to earth country girl who clearly makes friends every where she goes. I get the feeling that Angie doesn't do anything without the same verve that led her around a South Carolina stadium to stare down a tour manager and make her way onto Conway Twitty's bus.
She has more thoughts per minute than Yngwie had notes. As I listen, smiling, I get the feeling that I will never get to actually conduct an interview if I don't get her off the phone and into Instant Messaging. I figure it's best to grab a few pointed questions in an environment I can better control by sheer force of one simple defense: I can type faster than she can.
We talk on the phone for a long while. And once the technical bugs are worked out on her computer, and when I have assured her that I will edit for spelling, punctuation, and (ahem) space, we are off and running. I begin by asking her to recap the reason for what she calls her protest song, entitled Average Girl.
Ren Davis: check check
Angie Laurenson: Hello there! This is cool! Who knew!? Where were we?
Ren: You were telling me about your protest song. You say you're a size 7 or 8, and yet you've chosen to do this song, Average Girl, about the fact that we all come in different shapes and sizes. What was the motivation? Have you seen friends struggling with body image? I can imagine that having daughters had an input in the song as well.
Angie: Like I was saying, it's a song to help women feel good about themselves, and they can be whoever they wanna be. We are all beautiful in our own way. Beauty is temporary, but what you are inside your heart is what lasts.
Ren: How have your fans responded to that message?
Angie: Women I talk to thank me for writing a song like that. One person said, "It's about time someone speaks up for us." Being average in size is like being the middle child, you're not too heavy, and you're not thin; you're in between. Anyway, the song is for every woman of any size, 'cause the song really is talking about self-esteem rather than looks.
Ren: Thank you. Let's go back to our discussion about your history. You began with an aggressive pursuit of Conway Twitty, and eventually found your way to getting your own band and your first album. You had your daughter prematurely, and she had a lot of complications, which meant you dedicated yourself to her care in and out of hospitals.
Angie: Oh yes Conway Twitty! My first album was an album full of life's issues, (and) as you can tell by talking to me; I have a lot of them, ha, ha. Gina was born at 31 weeks, apnea, heart problems, and a condition called hydrocephalus, water on the brain. 14 operations she has had so far.
Ren: But in the meantime, you pursued acting, and got a few cool roles, including Ace Ventura? You seem to have a bit of a bug for the entertainment world.
Angie: Yes I'm pretty buggy for the camera, and stage, I guess I was born to do it. I feel very comfortable when I'm on stage or in front of a camera.
Ren: So how does a former Jim Carrey "costar" (Raulerson played several parts as an extra in the movie) and a soon to be successful country singer end up in Birch Run Michigan?
Angie: Michigan bound I was, because my other sister Debbie had a double breast removable a year ago, and has been ill. So I didn't want to be far from her like with my other sister Loretta, who died. Debbie lives in Grand Rapids.
Ren: You had these struggles with your daughter, and later you lost your sister to cancer at a young age. How have these experiences shaped you as a person and a professional?
Angie: It has made me stronger as an individual in wanting to reach out to others however I can, either through my music, or my other area of life in the natural health field.
Ren: Back to that about your career path: You say you are a doctor?
Angie: Yes, I am. It's called a Naturopathic Physician.
Ren: You take a holistic approach?
Angie: In a way, yes. But to essential oils application, and pain control, and mineral intake, there are certain areas I like to practice in more; like women's health.
Ren: How did you find time to educate yourself in between all of these other things?
Angie: The great home study courses, along with hands on seminars to get one-on-one training.
Ren: Still, one wonders: How do you ever find the time to deal with all of these things in your personal life, and still pursue your singing career?
Angie: Determination. Dreams that I have that I want to fulfill. And one of my big ones is doing my debut on the Grand Ole Opry.
Ren: I have no doubt it will happen...even if you have to sneak around the building in the rain and surprise them!
Angie: You got it girl! I've been to the Opry back stage, and just hung out in the dressing rooms with the Opry stars, and other guests. I have alot of pictures of those times. I'd like to go back there this year. I'm hoping my friend Jim Brown, who is an Opry star, can get me in. Everyone there is like family.
Ren: So lets talk again about your thoughts on independent artists
Angie: Yes, about Indie artists, I really think people on the radio stations should be more open to their talent, just because they don't have a major label behind them doesn't mean there is no market for them to spotlight their talent as well.
Ren: How has the success you've seen overseas influenced your acceptance here at home?
Angie: Well, people are more programmed in the States to listen to only well known artists. With me and my music overseas doing well, people are at least more curious about me, and wanting to give my music a chance. I do have several stations in the states that do play me, just not as much, because I don't have funds to further it. It's always about money. Really, I would like people to just give me and my music a chance.
Ren: You seem settled in your new life. What is the trade off?
Angie: My husband lives in Florida still, and I live here. Now, that's peaceful! ha, ha.
Ren: Do you find that you are challenged to keep the family close, given your career?
Angie: Me and my kids are very close, like glue. I'm codependent! We have very good communication, and that is a key to keeping a close relationship with your kids.
Ren: So a few final thoughts from you: From the kid who stalked Conway Twitty, to a mom with a few careers, what's the constant?
Angie: My music. I love my music, and I believe real country music comes straight from the heart, and deep within your soul, feeling your song as you sing it can really reach someone else's heart, hopefully in a positive way.
Ren: To be most clichï¿½': Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Angie: I see myself in a peaceful environment, surrounded by a lot of love, and music. I do see myself standing side by side other artist and natural doctors trying to reach the hearts of others. We all should help each other in anyway we can. We are, after all, the human race. It's up to us to make a differenceï¿½to make the world a better place.
With that, Angie and I finished a 2-hour conversation. As a struggling independent artist, Raulerson is seeing great results in the overseas market, and she is beginning to get some recognition here in the states.
Her enthusiasm for just about everything is contagious and fun. Both she and her music tell a story about big dreams, tackling stumbling blocks, and moving on when the rest of the world seems to want to keep you in your tracks.
For that, I felt my time with her was well spent. The difference between her and Yngwie Malmsteen, aside from the obvious, is that though they both move along a little quickly, at least Angie Raulerson has something worth saying.
For information on Angie Raulerson, go to www.angieraulerson.com
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)