Rocking the Pink at the House of Blues

By Joe Tash

Laura Roppé has a whole lot to celebrate at the House of Blues in San Diego on March 8.

Roppé, a mother of two and former attorney, is a singer-songwriter who has just written a memoir about her battle with an aggressive form of breast cancer. At the event, which will include her friends, family and musical collaborators, she’ll sign copies of her book, called “Rocking the Pink: Finding My Rock Star Self on the Other Side of Cancer,” which is due out next month.

She’ll also take to the stage with her band to play songs from her two albums, “I’m Still Here,” which came out in 2011, and 2008’s “Girl Like This.”

The event is free and open to the public and runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the House of Blues, 1055 5th Ave., San Diego. Along with a chance to showcase her literary and musical endeavors, the event marks Roppé’s successful navigation through the shoals of cancer diagnosis and treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Her last treatment was in mid-2009.

“This is a huge milestone, you have to celebrate these things,” said Roppé, 41, who lives locally with her husband, Brad, and daughters Sophie, 12, and Chloe, 9. “The world is invited.”

The book, published by Seal Press, will be available in bookstores and online. It chronicles both her fight against cancer and her decision to stop practicing law and live her dream of singing, writing songs and performing.

Roppé grew up in San Diego and married her high school sweetheart. She studied theater arts at UCLA, but later shifted her focus to attend law school and practice for 10 years in the areas of employment and business litigation.

Shortly before her cancer diagnosis in the fall of 2008, she recorded her first album, which included songs such as “Float Away,” which she now sees as eerily prescient: “She says, this life’s too heavy, I’ve reached the breaking point, if I check out now I can leave it all behind, and float, float away, but she hears the voice of her little girl, only thing that matters in this whole world, gotta find a way not to fade away, hold on, for one more day.”

Roppé now believes the song was sent to her by “something bigger than myself. It’s just something inexplicable to me that was sent to me for my future self. I needed that song to help me get through.”

The song “I’m Still Here,” which Roppé wrote during her chemotherapy treatment, takes on cancer more directly: “I kicked you hard and I’m not sorry, I beat you up and it felt good; Said hit the road, Jack, and I meant it, With half a chance, I’d do it again…. Nothing to pout about, just gotta shout about: I’m still here!”

Those who are newly diagnosed with cancer need to know they are empowered to make a difference in the outcome, Roppé said.

Like a marathon runner who focuses on one mile at a time, cancer patients should try to avoid focusing on the enormity of the struggle they face, she said.

“Break off little pieces of it and chew those little pieces. Don’t make it into a big drama, just make it a day at a time,” she said. “Be weak, be vulnerable and let people help.”

Roppé hopes people who read her book will want to check out her music, and she sees both media as different ways of telling the same story, which is her unique take on life.

Moving forward, she said, she wants to keep making music, which she hopes will lead to new adventures in life. Her career looks to be on a promising trajectory; in December, Billboard Magazine ranked her No. 5 on its list of the 50 top emerging artists of 2011, and the video for “I’m Still Here” has racked up more than 1 million hits on You Tube.

“I have two kids and a husband, and a nice life. I’m not dreaming of being Britney Spears, playing arenas or doing a world tour. My dream is getting to go places and meet new people, I don’t really put a definition on what that looks like,” she said.

To hear Roppé’s music and see her videos, visit www.lauraroppe.com.


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