Lead with generosity. Come into every situation with the attitude of “what can I offer and give?” rather than “what can I get or what’s in it for me?” Everywhere I do this in my life the creative energy, the money, and the good vibes start to flow.
As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rebecca Folsom.
Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, Rebecca Folsom is known as the “Creativity Shaman” who empowers individuals and groups through music, coaching, vocal workshops, and philanthropy. With a 20-year Zen Buddhism study, she embraces the Wisdom of Uncertainty and reflects it in her latest album, Sanctuary. Collaborating with diverse individuals like activists, authors, and those in compromised situations, she fosters unity and shares common human values.
Thank you so much for joining us on this interview series. Can you share with us the backstory that led you to this career path?
From the early years in my childhood, I wanted to be a singer songwriter touring the world and playing for large groups of people. I was smitten with Joni Mitchell and Carole King, and fascinated with the troubadour’s lifestyle. I started down this road very young writing songs and competing in song competitions, but stopped due to life circumstances. After a powerful and transforming trip to the temples and Pyramids of Egypt singing in the chambers, I reawakened my dream. I came home and set about reclaiming my voice and moving into a professional career. I am passionately in love with my career. I feel fortunate every day that I get to write, sing, and perform for a living. I also passionately love helping others open their voices and liberate anything that holds them back from being fully alive and living their life dream.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I think the biggest mistake I made in the beginning was pretending that I knew what I was doing, and not asking for help and mentorship. I was being interviewed by a newspaper for my first big opening act gig, and the interviewer was asking me about the person I was opening for and if I was like that person. I had not looked into who I was opening for, and I said all sorts of things about how I wasn’t like the main act. All of that didn’t put me in the best light. I still laugh and cringe about it. There was also the time I tried to fly off of a cliff in Mexico, but that was more about my “I can do it even if it bends natural laws” personality than it was my career. There is beauty and treachery in all of our strong suits.
What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?
Be bold, take risks, AND be humble and ask for help. There is such a winning balance in that. Also breathe and trust the universe has your back. Let the wind of everything carry you. It’s more fun and less work. There is a philosophy in the Tao of Chi energy and Li energy. Li is the energy of force, Chi energy reads the current and rides the flow.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
Oh my goodness, so many! My husband with his feisty kindness. He has my back, and he doesn’t take any guff, so we can both be powerful. My Zen Master teacher, Roshi Reta Lawler, with her ability to face the darkest of shadows and bring light, her capacity to sit with EVERYTHING. She has made me brave and taught me great gentleness. One of many things that she does is she is a doula for people who are dying. I watched her tend to people as they are facing the biggest uncertainty, their last breaths, and be such a force of peace. She helped my mother when she was dying of ALS. She facilitated a family circle with my mother and all of us children. The intent was to clear anything in the way and say everything that needed to be said before my mother died. It was an intense few hours, and all truths were shared. All of us kids say to this day there was and is nothing in the way when my mother died, there is only love between us. Powerful!
How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you’re working on right now?
Bringing goodness…. that is such a lovely way of saying it. I’m bringing goodness through my current release, the Sanctuary Project. I am offering Open Your Voice workshops to under-voiced, marginalized people. I get to share extraordinary tools for moving through trauma and fear, claiming confidence, and moving into leadership roles. Together we are writing poems and songs of their experiences and sharing them through music on bigger platforms. Some of these songs have gone to #1 on the national radio charts and been featured in national magazines like yours! I’ve been working with veterans, refugees, prisoners, and people experiencing homelessness, gender inequality, and race inequality to name a few. As a touring performing songwriter, I feel gifted with stages. I have an abundance of opportunities to be in the spotlight, amplified, and broadcast to groups of people. I am so happy to share that with those whose voices we as a culture need to hear.
Can you share with us a story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
When I was 14, my comfortable family life fell apart and I ended up impoverished, drug addicted, sexually abused, and briefly in and out of homelessness. I felt so bad about myself that I couldn’t imagine ever coming out of that dark place. There were kind people who helped and encouraged me along the way. Slowly my confidence and capability grew one step at a time. Now I feel truly gifted with the knowledge, skill, and goodness in my life. I want to help others who find themselves on these dark edges of society.
Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
Again, there are so many! I’ll pick two. Suzy Batiz founder of Poo Pourri Before You Go Toilet Spray and Alive OS. She is a visionary and a society game changer. She believed in Sanctuary so much that she put her world class team on the recording and videoing of the title track. Her director Paul Levatino assembled Grammy-winning producers, recording engineers, grand pianos, stylists and a stellar Gospel choir called the Saul Gates Chorale to sing with me on the recording. It was a soaring and beautiful experience, and the music and video are Fantastic!
Are there three things or are there things that individuals, society, or the government can do to support you in this effort?
Yes! People can stream, sign up on the mailing list, become subscribers, share, donate, and become part of the movement by going to my website at www.rebeccafolsom.com. Lyrics to the song Sanctuary say, “Every wall that we break down, every hand that reaches out, everywhere that love is found, we’re building a new dream, every garden that we tend, every broken heart we mend, every battle that we end, we’re building a new dream. Together with every act we are building a new dream and positively changing the world.
Why do you think music in particular has the power to create social change and create a positive impact on humanity?
Music goes straight to the heart. It bypasses language and helps us to feel, to cry, to dance, to yell, to cheer. I have seen music unite the most diverse of crowds within minutes.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started”?
1. Lighten up and have fun. Don’t take it all too seriously.
2. Ask for help, show people that you don’t know and let others in to help you.
3. Lead with generosity. Come into every situation with the attitude of “what can I offer and give?” rather than “what can I get or what’s in it for me?” Everywhere I do this in my life the creative energy, the money, and the good vibes start to flow.
4. Keep your eye on the ball, know what you are wanting to manifest and stay with it through the highs and lows.
5. Be true to yourself and appreciate what you are doing. There is room to be WAY more kind to yourself.
You’re a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would start the Authenticity Movement! I think it is already on its way. What a world we can make when we shed our learned social domestications and open to feel our true feelings, to express ourselves fully, to listen to others’ experiences without having to change them, to move freely, to be grounded in our bodies and know ourselves. One of my mentors, Don Americo Yabar, a mystic in Peru, modeled for me how to claim my inner “Salka,” my most alive, authentic self. That is what I want to inspire in the world.
Can you please give us your favorite life lesson quote? And can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
“The planet does not need more ‘successful people’. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, storytellers, and lovers of all kinds.” Dalai Lama
I spent many years of my life trying to prove myself by being more successful. My life turned in such an exquisite way when I relaxed and began to impeccably follow my inner compass, to steer from my inner knowing of what is a tail-wagging ‘Yes!’ and what is a subtle to a definitive ‘No’. This guidance system brings great joy to me and those around me because it is aligned to my core, and it makes life easier because it is aligned to the flow of the universe. When I relaxed into my authentic yes and no, I allowed myself to be the artist, dreamer, lover, healer, peacemaker that I innately am.
We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Billie Jean King, she inspired me so much with her activism, her dedication, her flaws, her grit, her focus, her clarity when she speaks, and her desire to help others. Joni Mitchell, because I think she is a goddess, and her music has informed and nurtured my musical life down to my bones.
Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!
Music Stars Making a Social Impact: Why & How Rebecca Folsom Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.