Rock Choir’s high achieving founder Caroline Redman Lusher reveals her struggle to strike a healthy work-life balance.
The story of Rock Choir reads like a fairy-tale.
Burnt-out lounge singer Caroline Redman Lusher takes a job teaching at a sixth form college. There she starts a contemporary choir that is open to all (no auditions, no sight-reading). It proves a hit, so Caroline creates a similar group for adults. She calls it Rock Choir and – boom! – it takes off like a rocket. In a few short years, Rock Choir lands record deal and a show on ITV.
But, as Caroline explains on the Singing Teachers Talk podcast, turning a fledgling business into a national brand is hard graft.
While on stage and screen, she appeared unflappable, behind the scenes, she was struggling.
“My health was massively impacted from those years with the record deal and the TV show and the surge in attention,” she reveals.
“I was getting probably three or four hours sleep a night; I wasn’t well in the end. Some of those years are blank to me, and I just can’t remember all the detail, but I know that I was exhausted.”
Stress took its toll
Caroline was so driven and determined that she took setbacks very personally.
“The stress would manifest itself physically. The people issues are the things that really upset me – I broke my teeth in the night from clenching.
“If I were advising somebody else who wanted to set up a business, I would say ‘Do it, it’s exciting, but be prepared. You can’t have a national brand and not work hard – you have to graft’.
“Be aware that with everything, there’s light and dark. You might be a type-A personality, a high achiever, but there’s a dark side to that, which is your health, relationships and your personal life get hit.”
The impact of Covid
In early 2020 Caroline was reappraising her work-life balance because she was expecting a baby after years of fertility issues.
After building a team around her at Rock Choir that she could trust, she felt ready to take her foot off the gas (at least a little bit).
Then Covid-19 hit, and Rock Choir had to move rehearsals online (no mean feat when you have 33,000 members). For the most part, she stayed upbeat, but there was the occasional wobble.
“There was a point during the pandemic where I was perhaps less positive. I was thinking, ‘I’ve grafted all this time, and it could be taken away. And will I have to graft like that again? How will I do that?’.”
But Rock Choir kept going and was helped along by a series of daily online singing events that kept members engaged.
Caroline says the past 18 months have given her a chance to re-evaluate how she manages her work-life balance.
“Having the baby [he’s called Hamilton, and he’s gorgeous] and having an excuse not to travel around the country, I feel like right now I’m at a junction where if I go back to working like that, I can’t expect to be okay.
“I’m now thinking, ‘how can I put some boundaries in where I protect myself, protect my health, and my time with my family, but still allow Rock Choir to flourish?
“It’s all about having the right people in the team who feel the same. It was very evident through the pandemic how passionate the Rock Choir leaders were about keeping Rock Choir going. Rock Choir isn’t just me anymore – it’s an entity, and we’re all part of it.”
LISTEN HERE to the whole podcast to discover:
- How Caroline decides on Rock Choir’s repertoire.
- What it takes to be a Rock Choir leader.
- Who are the Rockies, and why are they so damn loyal?