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My Nashville Story: How an LA Life Coach made Nashville her second home:

I admit it, I’m late to the country music party.

It’s amazing what unexpected turns life can take when you listen to those quiet whispers inside your soul, those inexplicable gut feelings.

I’m a California girl through and through – a second generation LA native.  The only “south” I’ve ever known is Southern California. And the only "rodeo" I’ve ever been to is Rodeo Dr. in Beverly Hills, my hometown.

So how, in just a few months, did Nashville, Tennessee become a second home?

I don’t believe in accidents.

One day in January ‘11, I was driving down the 405 freeway on the way to the beach, I accidentally knocked my purse which bumped the radio button and it landed on 105.1, the LA country radio station. I’d never listened to country music before in my life.

I see now, it was a tiny step toward Nashville. But I didn’t then as I was hitting 65 mph and found myself singing along. Country Strong. Gwyneth Paltrow? Gwenie she sings country? Her dad gave me my first TV writing job. In retrospect it was kinda like my old life opening the door to a new life.  Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not? Felt Good On My Lips. I liked all these songs about smooches.  I didn’t change the channel - for the next few weeks.

And one day, I heard an announcement: the Country Music Association was sponsoring an evening with songwriters. That night. It sounded cool: 5 well-known song writers were going to sing their own songs.

As a life coach to people who make music, I’m a big fan of supporting the artists behind the scenes, the unsung – no pun intended – heroes.  I can’t explain it except to say that I felt a gut feeling that I was supposed to be there. It started at 8 pm. But I had parent-teacher conferences that night. Guess not.

Later, I had my eye on the clock during the last of the teacher meetings – and I couldn’t get that CMA event out of my mind. It was 8: 05 as I was walking to my car. And as I started to drive home, I saw myself drive right past my house and toward the freeway. The voice in my head said, “So, you’ll be 30 minutes late – at least you’ll be there.” I felt like, if I can still get a ticket then it’s meant to be. And sure enough, the box office was open and a few tickets were available.

Gretchen Wilson, Chris Young, Brett James, Victoria Shaw and Bob DiPiero all sat on stage together and took turns telling stories and then singing their own songs.

I’d never heard of Gretchen Wilson, and from the stories she told and the songs she sang, we couldn’t have less in common. A redneck woman who drinks beer all night and leaves Christmas lights up all year, and says "hey y’all" and "yee haw"? Not exactly my autobiography. But by the end of the night, I felt like her soul-sister. 

Don DiPiero sang a song called “Gone” – and it became my anthem. I was recently separated and that song gave me strength. “Gone like a freight train, gone like yesterday… She’s gone. And she ain’t never goin’ back.” That was me.

Victoria Shaw talked about being a Jewish girl (me) from the valley (not me, but only 20 minutes away) and when she mentioned Facebook, I wondered if we had any friends in common.

I stood in the back alone, took in the scene, and felt remarkably at home. By the end of the night, I knew this was a party I wanted to come back to.

Later that night, I facebooked Victoria and amazingly we did have a friend in common: an insanely talented musician, David Grow, who was a high school friend I had lost touched with. I facebooked him and we reconnected as if no time had passed.

Over the next few months, as country music blasted in the car to my kid’s chagrin (“Really? Who are you???” they frequently whined), I started to think about reaching out as a life coach to the country music world. It was more than thinking: I started feeling that I was going  be a Nashville Life Coach. Funny, 'cause I'd never even been there.

I was established as a life coach in the entertainment industry in Hollywood – my first big wave of media attention came from Rock Your Life Coaching gift certificates being in the Oscar nominee gift bag. But in yet another way I didn’t notice Nashville was in my future, in order to be included in the Oscar event, I had to agree to participate in the Academy of Country Music swag bag. And I did. My first clients as a Nashville Life Coach came from that – but I didn’t give it much attention.

Over the next 16 months, David regularly encouraged me to come out to Nashville. The conversation would go something like this:


David: You're someone who follows her instincts. You know you're going to be a Nashville Life Coach. Follow already!!!

Me: On one hand, when you say that, it feels so right - me: Country Music Life Coach. On the other hand, it's like, where is Tennessee???

David: You gotta come out here – put your face in front of people, tell them your story. They’ll love you. You have to meet people, just hang out and meet people. It’s not like it is in L.A.

Me: Just hang out and meet people? Say, "Hi, I'm Sherri. I'm an entertainment industry Life Coach from L.A. and now I'm a Nashville Life Coach. I've been here for about nine minutes."

David: Yeah. It’s different here. People are really friendly.

Me: Just meet people? People magically show up and change your life?

(The truth is, I do believe when you've decided to change your life, people do show up.)

David: Just come – you won’t believe who you’ll meet.

All along, I knew he was right. But I have kids, I couldn’t just take off. But the stars aligned, and on May 31, 2012, I was Nashville bound.

So as I was boarding the plane I caught a glimpse of a guy way back in line – you know that feeling you get when you see someone and you know you’re meant to be friends? It’s magical.

So I’m sitting on the plane, and here he comes, he stops at my row. Of course, he’s got the seat next to me. No accidents, right?

I hear David’s voice humming in my head: You won’t believe who you’ll meet.

Turns out he’s a really big deal in music here, with a track record that would be familiar to anyone who knows "who’s who" behind the scenes. Lucky for me first class was sold out.  By the end of the flight, he’s made a list for me of "who’s who" and who to call.

Live music fills the airport on the way to baggage claim. Not musak. Amazing talents you’re sure will be the next big thing. When have I ever wanted to hang out in the airport? I understood why Nashville is called Music City.

As I waited curbside to be picked up at the airport, two more magical things happened: I witnessed an epic, thrilling thunder and lightning storm like I’d never heard or seen before –  like streaks of fireworks exploding across the night sky in every direction, over and over with barely a pause in between. And then, equally explosive and thrilling, I met a guy.

Nashville was a “wow!” and I hadn’t even left BNA yet.

I just came back from my fifth trip in eight months. During this time, I’ve been on a quest to meet with artists, management teams and professional creative organizations to introduce myself, and explain how I can be an essential component in the success of artists and management teams here.

And David was right: I’ve met amazing people just standing around.

I’ve spoken at NSAI, lead a workshop at the Nashville Chabad, and I have lots more events I’m about to announce.

And, OMG, the music… the food…. I LOVE The Blue Bird Café, B.B King’s, all those honky tonks downtown (it may be a tourist thing at night but there’s no where else on earth you can hear that caliber of music at 3 in the afternoon), 3rd and Lindsley...

Some of my favorites: the Wasabi Martini at Virago’s, Indian buffets at…, Sweet CeCe’s (I’ve been to almost every one of them!) I LOVE the salad bars at the Turnip Truck (best seaweed salad ever!) and Whole Foods (super food salad – awesome!).

And people are friendly. At first, I thought they were kidding. Once, I looked behind me to see who all that friendliness was being aimed at only to realize it was aimed at me.  This is funny: I was late to a meeting at …, with a woman I hadn’t met in person before. When I arrived, there was a woman outside on a cell phone and as I approached, she waved at me so I assumed she was the woman I was meeting. So I waited around outside for about ten minutes until she got off the phone and then introduced myself. Nope – not my meeting! Just a friendly person who waived. I was really late.

I feel at home Nashville. I can’t wait to come back.  

It’s amazing what unexpected turns life can take when you listen to those quiet whispers inside your soul, those inexplicable gut feelings.

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