Rachel Platten was at a crossroads. For as long as she could remember, she dreamed of having a career in music, but it seemed to be getting tougher every day. She started to lose faith in her abilities, in her music, in her voice. Perhaps she should resolve herself to a life of playing small clubs and find another source of income, she thought. Or maybe she should sit down and write.
This is my fight song, take back my life song, prove I'm alright song. My power's turned on. (Starting right now) I'll be strong. I'll play my fight song and I don't really care if nobody else believes 'cause I've still got a lot of fight left in me.
That chorus came easy, but she struggled with the verses — writing and rewriting a handful of times. When it was finished, she not only felt better about her future, but also felt she had written something special in its own right. Sure enough, the song has become an anthem of sorts, garnering hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube, helping spark a record deal with Columbia Records and putting her name on the radar of countless music fans. Though she was originally scheduled for a March 11 show at the Evening Muse, she's now a part of Andy Grammer's tour, which stops at the Fillmore on March 13. Getting her music in front of as many people as possible is the priority.
"I was originally going on the road with some friends of mine. We were going to play five or six shows on our way to a festival in Charleston, South Carolina," Platten says. "When 'Fight Song' started getting played on the radio a few weeks ago, we didn't expect all the attention that has happened. We had to backpedal, and my manager put me on a bigger tour — more places in front of more people."
Platten has been floored by the amount of people writing to her and sharing their own "fight songs" of how they've overcome things in their lives. She's turned it into a contest of sorts, encouraging people to use the hashtag #MyFightSong to share their stories, photos or videos of how the song has inspired them to overcome a struggle. Winners are then shared on her website and invited to hang out backstage.
From the woman in New Orleans getting over the death of her infant child to the girl who found a way out of hanging out with the wrong crowd in high school, people are posting their messages to Platten on a regular basis. Platten has been amazed by how many people are able to relate to the scon in their own way.
"Through the process of writing the song, I remembered my strengths and I remembered that my voice is not small, but very powerful if I could just get rid of my ego and doubt," Platten says. "Through writing that song I was healing myself. I realized after I released it that it was healing other people, too. It was incredible to see that something I wrote to heal myself was being used in such a positive way. It all makes me feel really grateful."
If it sounds like she was lying down on a couch when all of this emotion and personal introspection came about, you shouldn't be surprised. Her mom is a therapist, father a psychologist. She says it was ingrained in her from an early age to survey the world and see what's going on inside.
Platten has been working on her music for years and her signing with a major label was a big milestone in her career, but her humility comes across instantly as we talk by phone. She's not only thankful that people are relating to her music, but that she's getting to perform for people every night. Anytime we talk about the tour, she uses adjectives like "amazing" and "incredible" to describe the shows and fans, followed by a "I'm having so much fun!"
Platten has been an indie artist for years, her first album Trust in Me coming out in 2003. After releasing a five-song live EP in 2010, her studio follow-up, Be Here, was released in 2011. Now, she's on the road showcasing new material, including "Fight Song."
Because she was a late addition to the Andy Grammer tour, she doesn't have the biggest timeslot to perform, but she's trying to make the most of it, treating her set as a quick introduction to people who likely haven't heard her music before.
Platten is OK with what she's got. She's never been one to take shortcuts or look for an easy way out. That's probably what led to "Fight Song" and landed her on a brighter pathway these days. She says if it weren't for all the struggles she had over the years, she wouldn't have written the song and had a better idea of what the future holds for her.
"For a long time, I dreamed about having the opportunities that I'm having right now," Platten says. "I didn't know if I was deluding myself. [After I wrote "Fight Song"] I made a decision that whatever level I was able to do music on, I was still giving a message to people and connecting people and that is enough. As soon as I made that decision, I wasn't putting pressure on myself and things seem to have gotten easier."