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Backstage with Rachel Platten

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When Rachel Platten thanked her fans and ran offstage at the Mystic Showroom in Prior Lake, Minnesota, the crowd knew that she would be back. They rose to their feet, clapping and cheering for a very specific encore number. They wanted to hear the 35-year-old artist sing the song that put her on the musical map. Platten returned to the stage and closed the show with her mega-hit “Fight Song.” The crowd went wild.

Rachel Platten backstage with Ryan at the Mystic Showroom

Rachel Platten backstage with Ryan at the Mystic Showroom

Ever since “Fight Song” debuted in 2015, it has become an inspirational anthem for people fighting against odds of all varieties. Patients fighting medical challenges are encouraged by it, athletes are fueled by it, and people at political rallies find unity in it.

“There are a lot of amazing people who have let those lyrics become their own,” Platten told me after her January 27 show. “I’m really honored about it.”

 

“FEELING DOWN”

Platten says that the song has resonated with people because it came from plumbing her own emotions. “I really dug deep and spoke honestly at a time when I was feeling down on myself,” she said.

Frustrated by 10 years of trying to make it big in the music industry, Platten wrote “Fight Song” to convince herself that her personal struggles would pay off, and that she would achieve her dreams if she kept trying.

Platten believed that the lyrics she wrote applied to her career: “I might only have one match, but I can make an explosion,” the song says.

Platten’s major-label debut, Wildfire ,was that explosion. The album hit Number 5 on the Billboard 200 in January 2016.

Ryan with a young Platten fan

Ryan with a young Platten fan

The title for the Wildfire album came from a conversation between Platten and her manager, Ben Singer. Platten recalls him telling her: “You have been trying for 10 years to warm yourself at other people’s fires. It’s time to build your own fire, and let people come to it.”

In the past year, Platten has performed on some of the world’s biggest stages. In October 2016, she sang “The Star Spangled Banner” before Game 1 of the World Series between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs. She also co-headlined the New Year’s Eve festivities in New York City’s Times Square with Gavin DeGraw to ring in 2017.

 

“ICING ON THE CAKE”

Ideas for Platten’s songs frequently come from her daily journal writing. “I write three page no matter what,” she says of her morning routine. “I find what I’m going through that way. And then it’s honest.”

Another place Platten turns for inspiration is literature. “I’m obsessed with books,” she says. “I carry around huge ones in my purse.”

Platten pores over books for common themes about the human experience. “It really helps me with my lyrics and the themes I’m writing about in my songs,” she says.

Another source of inspiration comes from Platten’s 12 years of experience with a charity called Musicians on Call. The organization helps to place musicians in hospitals where they can share their talents directly at patients’ bedsides.

Before her career really took off, Platten found that this was one of the best ways to see the true value of her music. “I wasn’t playing to thousands of people,” she says. “But I was still reaching people in a very real way, and that kept me going.”

The fact that thousands of people now sing along to Platten’s music is something she considers to be “icing on the cake.”

“I’m not writing songs because I want to be famous,” says Platten. “I’m writing songs because I’m an artist, and that’s the way I express myself.”