A woman with a feminine floral dress, cowboy boots and flowing brunette hair walks into the kitchen. Her bright eyes and warm smile appear the moment she sets her guitar case on the linoleum tile. While most musicians coyly wait for their fans to approach them, this one does things a little differently.
“Hi, I’m Rebecca,” Rebecca Loebe beamed, immediately extending her hand to every inhabitant of the kitchen.
A natural “Miss Congeniality,” folk singer-songwriter Loebe has mastered the art of making friends on the road.
“It’s all about just meeting people, you know?” Loebe said.
Loebe, no stranger to tour life, said she survives long jaunts on the road by crashing on couches and finding friends wherever she can. She’s had plenty of practice doing so — she estimated that she drives 30,000–50,000 miles a year on tour, not counting those traveled in cars she rents or on airplanes. She estimated being on the road for 150-200 days out of a year.
Living life out of a suitcase wasn’t always Loebe’s plan. The Atlanta, Ga., native attended Berklee College of Music to study recording, and worked at a recording studio as an engineer before receiving some advice that would eventually lead her to be on the other side of the studio glass.
“When I was a senior [in college] and I was considering what to do with my life, I told one of my teachers that I was considering going in to recording full-time and going out to L.A., working in a studio,” Loebe said. “He said, ‘You know what Beck, you could do that, but I think you’d be happier doing something more creative.’ I just thought that was really good advice. I think he was right, you know?”
Loebe has without a doubt found success in her creative endeavors. The 29-year-old was a contestant on the first season of “The Voice.” During her audition, both Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera turned their chairs around, thus offering themselves as coaches to her. Loebe subsequently chose Levine as her coach. While she didn’t win, she made it to the show’s “battle round” and views her time on the show in a positive light.
“I had a really good experience with my battle round,” Loebe said. “I really aimed to make it sound like a really good duet and I think we totally succeeded at that.”
When asked if she would consider another TV appearance, Loebe didn’t hesitate with her response.
“You know, I feel like I really lucked out,” Loebe said. “I had a really good experience with it. I feel like I played with fire and didn’t get burned, so I don’t want to tempt fate again by trying another TV show. I think once was enough.”
While more TV may not be on Loebe’s to-do list, she’s got plenty of other goals in mind.
“I’m interested in collaborating with other artists on a CD with a different band — like a guest band,” Loebe said. “I’d love to tour opening for some of my idols and I’d love to play bigger venues.”
Loebe has circulated a handful of odd performance spaces. Recently, she was asked to perform with the children of the PS 22 Chorus of New York City. Her performances of “Swallowed by the Sea” and “Mercy” can be found on the chorus’ YouTube channel. The school’s chorus is a viral sensation, and its blog boasts more than 49 million views of PS 22 Chorus videos on YouTube.
Even after appearing on national television, Loebe is far from being “too good” to play an intimate show. On Oct. 27, she played an acoustic house show on 12th and Thompson streets, sharing the bill with Temple students.
“I played a gig in Philly that was outside of town and my friend Brittany was like, ‘Man, my friends would love to see you, but they don’t have cars so they can’t come,’” Loebe said. “So, I had the day off, and thought, ‘Let’s go play for those people if they’d like to see me.’ If they want to hear the music and couldn’t get out to it, I’d rather play for them than not.”
Relationships Loebe fosters on the road lead to more than just performance spaces and possible shelter. Many of the people and experiences she encounters on the road ultimately serve as her muse.
For example, her song “Land & Sea” is about being the first car on the scene — what Loebe described as “car zero” — in a three-car pileup on her way to Philly from Pittsburgh.
Also, on a flight to Chicago a few years ago, Loebe sat next to a young man who had a trying adolescence. He was seemingly on track to be a high school dropout until he fell in love with a girl who attended college in Chicago. His paramour made a deal with him — if he graduated high school, he’d fly to Chicago and marry her. Loebe met the young man less than a week after he received his diploma, on his way to become a husband. Loebe wrote a song about the experience and titled it, “Chicago.”
Loebe’s most recent work is a full-length album, “Circus Heart,” released in September. She described the process as “long and painstaking.”
“It’s the closest I’ve come to giving birth,” Loebe said.
[Editor’s note: Assistant photo editor Abi Reimold is a resident of the house at which Loebe recently performed.]
Jenelle Janci can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.