Scarlett Rabe: Symphonic Singer and Artist

ScarlettLiz2By Liz Tarnof

As I made my way through the streets of San Diego, I anticipated the events to unfold tonight. The sky was clear, the weather was cool; it was perfect concert atmosphere. Tonight, I would be interviewing and watching up and coming musical artist Scarlett Rabe perform. If there is one appropriate term that could personify her, it would be multi-faceted. This talented young woman can play a multitude of songs on her piano, fight for what she believes in and concoct Bacon Popcorn. Yes, Bacon plus popcorn. I attended Scarlett’s show Friday night at Lestat’s West Music Venue in the up and coming urban area of San Diego, known as Normal Heights.


SONY DSCI am delighted to say, nothing about Scarlett and her performance was normal. I arrived a couple hours early to interview Scarlett and navigated my way through Lestat’s small and quaint coffee shop. We were directed over to the Green Room, where the musicians and performers were able to mingle amongst themselves prior to show time. Scarlett and I initially began the interview in the dressing room of Lestat’s. Scarlett graciously offered me the funky purple couch made of velvet while she sat on a piano bench. After numerous interruptions from other musicians and sound checks, we resorted to the restroom for the remainder of the interview. Nothing will help you bond quicker with someone than when you have to converse in a small bathroom!  It’s refreshing to speak to someone who is so realistic and believes in the power of making her dreams come true.

During our conversation, I asked Scarlett what musical artists have influenced her life. She stated that many artists from the 70s were a huge influence, such as Joni Mitchell and Freddie Mercury. “I’m really drawn to people that have something to say and who are weaving their heart and their life into the art that they’re making.” For Scarlett, these artists were absolutely life changing.  If you were wondering if Scarlett has always been influenced by these talented artists, the answer is a resounding NO.

Scarlett grew up with no popular culture in the household, whether music or television. When a friend of Scarlett’s heard her play  the piano, he told her he could really hear the Queen influence in it. Scarlett responded with an innocent “Oh, I don’t know her.” Clearly, she has come a long way from not knowing who Queen was, to having this surge of music brought to her ears.  “I love every genre. From the moment I heard Freddie Mercury, I started experiencing all of the genres and time periods, all at once. So it was like Billy Holiday, Backstreet Boys, it was everything all at once.” These influence her music. Her piano playing does indeed resemble some of Queen’s eclectic musical style, but yet, Scarlett’s music is all her own.” Battle Cry” is a powerful anthem that screams out that she is going to fight until her last breath and leave a presence wherever she goes. Another one of her songs,” Free Fall,” has an eerie wondrous melody to it. It encompasses Scarlett’s look on love, and that it’s always a risk, whether it works out or not.

Scarlett explained to me that when she was young, she was brought up to be a concert pianist. However, when offered the chance to go on a world tour at 17, she had to refuse because her family didn’t see it as appropriate for her. Her path was to be a concert pianist, get married young, have lots of babies and be there to support her husband. Clearly, Scarlett knew this wasn’t the path for her, and embarked on her own journey, head first.  “There is nothing else for me besides this. I can’t enjoy leisure, I don’t like vacations, I don’t like anything else except for this. This is grueling hard work and I love it. It’s all I want to do. And honestly, if I’m not doing this, I don’t want to be alive.” If that doesn’t show passion in what someone wants to do in life, I don’t know what does.

Scarlett expresses her true idealism of power and to be proud of oneself in her music. Not many artists these days sing of such topics and it’s exhilarating to hear such positive messages in her songs. When I asked Scarlett what she would like to tell any young women like her that are out there trying to pursue their dreams and talents, she told me that one of the biggest thing is for girls to stop underestimating themselves. “Don’t underestimate yourself, and don’t let someone underestimate you. We are so easily dissuaded and something in us just gets at ourselves. I wish we could all just boost each other up and say ‘you got this!’”

Even though playing the piano, writing songs, and connecting with her fans is her life, there are other things she loves to do. Scarlett revealed to me that she loves cooking, and doesn’t cook the same dish twice. However, she has a special snack she makes: bacon popcorn. You heard me right. Bacon and popcorn. I had to stop and ask her to explain to me how she made it because it sounded amazingly delicious. “It’s basically popcorn seeds fried in bacon fat.”

“You make them in a real popper and then you make a pan of bacon cooked in butter. Then you toss them all together and sprinkle just a little bit of cheese on top, not grated cheese, but some finely shaved cheese.”

Oh. My. Goodness.

ScarlettLizSounds like a delicious, mouthwatering, heart attack. This woman is my savior.  I was in awe at all the things she could do. I was surprised to learn that the music video for “Battle Cry,” Scarlett created it herself. She told me she was a budding film editor and utilized her love for hardware stores in the music video.  “I love hardware stores and project-y creative stuff, so I actually got the idea at the hardware store….you turn the florescent lights on and they do that little buzz. So I actually went there and just filmed Home Depots lights and then I layered it thinly on top of my footage.” I was clearly impressed; this was uncharted territory for me. It was a pleasure speaking to such a talented individual who has such powerful aspirations in life.

After speaking with Scarlett, I made my way to the Gregory Page Stage and seated myself at the front. The whole venue was fairly small, only able to seat about 30 or so comfortably. The chairs were old and worn; they looked like the old fashioned movie theater chairs that are relics of the past. I surveyed Scarlett and her backup singers/musicians as they did a sound check. They practiced a snippet of “Battle Cry and it gave me chills. The song sounded just as I had heard on her website, and I was eager for the show to start. Once it did, I was delighted to hear that she played her entire EP. All of her songs were amazing, and her piano playing is on point. Her voice is deep and throaty and full of life. “Unconditional” and “Hitchhiker Heart” are incredible songs, both nostalgic and memorable.  Scarlett finished her performance with a whole hearted roar from the crowd. If there is one thing that I can convey from attending this performance, is that Scarlett is going to take the world by storm.

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