These days Rebecca De La Torre’s voice is filled with hope and passion. Her music career is on the rise in an industry where women very infrequently achieve success if they stray from the polished branding that seems to be a non-negotiable. But Rebecca is special because she has the potential to be a true role model to the generations of young women who idolize musicians. Her lyrics aren’t fluff and her feelings aren’t auto tuned. Her recently released album Incognito is a testament to a women who fought her way out of an abusive marriage, started running toward her dreams and never looked back.
Full Name: Rebecca De La Torre
Birthday: July 31st, 1982
Hometown: Tuscaloosa, Alabama (specially Duncanville, Alabama)
Fav Food: salmon sashimi
Fav Musician/Band: Sarah Vaughn
CL: How and when did you discover your love of music?
RDLT: I’m from Alabama. I grew up in the woods – literally, in the woods – a very small town. I graduated high school with people that I went to kindergarten with – that kind of small town. It’s just outside of Tuscaloosa, home of the Crimson Tide.
Everyone in my family is musical. My mom plays flute, my dad plays flute and trombone, and my grandma was a musician full-time. She got her degree in music, so she sang and played classical piano. I decided to play trombone because my older sister Kathleen, the one that I’m most like, plays trombone. I wanted to be like Kathleen. Kathleen got yelled at the least. Kathleen got the best grades. Obviously, as a kid growing up in a dysfunctional family, I wanted to play the trombone because I’d be the most like Kathleen and maybe my dad would stay off my case.
I always wanted make music. I knew that was my calling. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I did musical theater, I remember trying to write some songs or just kind of play around with stuff on the piano as a kid. I guess I never really got pushed in that direction. I was always encouraged to follow the plan: “Okay, you can be a musician, but that’s got to be your hobby.” So I followed my family.
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But I was really good at it. I was All-State Trombonist, 1st Trombone, all through junior high and high school. That was the only instrument I played. I could read music. I could pick out stuff on the piano, but I wasn’t really a pianist. And I sang. I sang in the choir. I did a lot of auditions. I did theater in Tuscaloosa, Civic Chorus and some youth theater. Then I got out of high school and I realized I had dropped the ball. I had applied and been accepted to a few different schools. I had some dinky little scholarships, but I realized it wasn’t nearly enough to pay for school.
CL: Clearly music has always been your passion, but it wasn’t always your path. Tell us about your journey from engineer to professional musician.
RDLT: I met this guy on the Internet… and this was when you didn’t meet people on the Internet and move to be with them. It was a big brouhaha. My parents weren’t going to just let me leave and I told them, “I’m old enough to do whatever I want.” Finally they let me go out to Arizona. I took a year off from school and worked for Apple doing tech support.
I was really good at it. I was good with computers. I started programming in the 2nd grade and went to a gifted school called Target in Tuscaloosa. At the time I didn’t really understand that I needed to develop my skills so I’d be really strong in something when I was older. But programming was a natural fit, so I started programming for Apple.
I kept singing. I even started studying voice again within a year of moving to Arizona. But everyone encouraged me not to worry about music and to go into engineering and computer science because I was already working as a programmer. So while working full-time I decide to go to school full-time.
I entered into the computer science program at ASU and suddenly my marriage degraded. My husband was completely obsessive and a total narcissist. Things were very bad and by the time I graduated, I realized that I was married to an insane person. I was finally done with my school, but I couldn’t have a rational conversation with my husband about our marriage, the future or our life without him twisting everything I said.
My husband was incredibly abusive. He had always been emotionally abusive, but he had started hitting me. But I was too proud… too proud to be divorced. Divorce is a terrible thing, especially when you come from the Bible Belt. So I put up with his crap.
But he started losing his grip on me and he knew it. One morning, we got into a fight and he said to me with a gun in his hand, “You better leave for work before I shoot you.” He didn’t point it at me, but he was walking around with the gun in his hand. He just passed by, looking down when he said it. I got up and left. I was a mess. I was scared. I didn’t know if I was going to wake up the next day. He had already broken two of my teeth.
At that point, I told my boss the whole story. He said, “You deserve better.” Those were the best words I had ever heard my whole life. I had been so afraid he would say, “Well, what did you do? How did you make him so mad?” I realized I needed to get out of the relationship. But I was afraid of leaving. I called the cop that lived across the street and he helped me. My ex-husband was arrested, I got a restraining order, my dad came up to stay with me and finally, my ex-husband flew back to Florida.
Everything changed from there. I started a whole new path on September 19, 2003 – that’s when my life began. That’s when he threatened me with the gun. That was the best and the worst day of my life.
CL: Your second album, Incognito, tells the story of your survival and struggle to get out of an abusive marriage. What gave you the strength to finally leave?
RDLT: Unfortunately, for me it was the realization that if I did not get divorced, I was going to end up dead. Obviously, I chose the former. But it should never have come down to that.
CL: How did you heal and find the courage to believe in yourself and your dreams?
RDLT: I have gone through a lot of therapy and I still see a therapist. When in therapy, I am encouraged to reconnect with my true self or “inner child.” That inner child was conceived to be a musician. After all this time and everything I went through, I finally listened to her.
CL: So many battered women feel trapped, alone and without options. What advice would you give those women?
RDLT: Get out and find help from anyone – colleagues, siblings, parents, neighbors. My neighbor was a cop. He was the one who convinced me to call the police and get my abuser arrested. That changed my life. He is a hero to me.
CL: Who or what inspires you to create?
RDLT: Life! We as artists are here to serve others by expressing the human experience in creative ways. I also draw inspiration from a lot of other people who have come out of difficult circumstances and achieved great things.
CL: Do you have a favorite piece you’ve written or a favorite performance?
RDLT: That’s hard to answer… but since we’re talking about the real nitty-gritty stuff, I’d have to say that my favorite song is a piece I wrote called “Let Me Be a Girl.” I plan to release it this fall as an EP along with six newly composed songs.
Fill in the blank: A Functional Girl listens to her heart, her conscious and chases her dreams.
CL: With the release of Incognito, you must be crazy busy! What does the rest of 2013 look like for you?
RDLT: Yes! Things are extremely busy and I’m excited to announce that there’s more music coming out! I’ll be in the Pacific Northwest most of the summer and I am coordinating some gigs to help promote my new release. We’re also looking into a fall tour, but that’s still simmering right now. I’m always announcing events and news on my website, so check back regularly to find out what I’m up to: www.RebeccaDeLaTorre.com.