BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - 2,560 miles. The distance from Bladen County, North Carolina to Hollywood, California. Rebecca Allen set out on that journey 13 years ago, chasing her dream of becoming an actress.
“Even when I was a young child, I used to always say I wanted to be an actress and I wanted to move to California,” she says now as Beck Black, a takeoff of Rebecca combined with her mother’s maiden name, which she used when joining the Screen Actors Guild in 2007. “When I went to UNCW, I graduated with a film degree, that was to help me be a smart actress because I wanted to know every element about cameras, how to write, how to be able to be sufficient as an artist.”
Beck started as a production assistant with Nickelodeon, landed a few small roles, and later worked as a stunt double in one production. But she says a bad experience working on a movie set pushed her career in a new direction. Beck had learned to play piano and flute growing up, and played in a jazz ensemble while at Tar Heel High School. She took those talents into the world of music.
“We were The Moonbeams,” she says about her first band in LA. “We played the Troubadour, everywhere, and were doing real well. My guitarist at the time, he wanted to split. I called him ‘Moonbeam’ as an affectionate, pet name. So when he left, I had to rebrand ourselves. We were headed to (play at) South by Southwest in 2014, and I re-branded us as Beck Black.”
As Beck Black, the group released several EPs and singles that received airplay on radio stations from coast to coast, and on digital platforms including Sirius XM. The group even got a mention when legendary radio host Rodney Bingenheimer got his own radio show on Little Steven’s Underground Garage channel. The write-up promotion says Bingenheimer “continues to launch new music from the likes of The Regrettes, the Atomics, The Moon Kids, The Tearaways and Beck Black”. An opportunity presented itself two years ago for Beck Black to team up with an industry legend, former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.
“Ringo has been working with one of my engineers, Bruce Sugar, for about 17 years since 2003,” Beck said. “Two years ago, Ringo heard the song that we had composed called ‘Who’s Gonna Save Rock n’ Roll', and he loved it. But Ringo was busy working on his own album that came out last year. He said ‘Man, this is a cool song. I don’t have time to play drums on it right now.”
Black said Starr agreed to let her and Sugar put some of his file drum tracks on the song. But it just didn’t seem to fit musically. It wasn’t until Sugar and Starr worked together this past January that “Who’s Gonna Save Rock n’Roll” came up again.
“Bruce was at Ringo’s house in Malibu and somehow they started talking about the song,” she says. “Ringo remembered it and said, ‘You guys haven’t recorded drums on that yet? Let’s do it right now!’ Ringo recorded on his drum set, with his Beatles’ cymbals. He did four takes and said, ‘That will be three bucks’. He has a great sense of humor.”
An article in LA Weekly earlier this month previewed the livestream of Ringo’s 80th birthday celebration show. The writer, Brett Callwood, wrote “It’s been a busy week for Starr — he appears on the fantastic new song (and video) “Who’s Gonna Save Rock n’ Roll” by brilliant L.A. artist Beck Black”. High praise for the talented singer, songwriter and instrumentalist who decided to pursue music full-time over acting.
“I’ve been in Los Angeles for 13 years, so I’m glad to be an LA artist and a Carolina girl at the same time,” she says. “But, I have to be honest with you Jon, it’s not been the easiest time as an artist. The stage is bare, the lights are dim, I don’t know when we’ll ever be able to get back on a stage again and it breaks my heart. It feels like a part of me is missing because we’re not performing.”
But you’ll hear from Beck Black as 2020 goes on. The band will release a nine-song record called Hollywood Boulevard this year, and Beck’s other band, JYNX, will also have new material for fans to hear. Beck also continues to work on a screenplay called “Train Jumper”, set in areas along the Cape Fear River she knew as a child. She is not that far removed from those days, when Rebecca dreamed of being a star. Beck shared advice for others who have those same aspirations.
“If you have a dream, you can make it happen,” she said. “All you have to do is believe in yourself. As long as you can believe in yourself, you can do anything. You can come from any background, anywhere in the world, even from Bladen Lakes Elementary School where I first learned how to sing from my first-grade teacher. You can do it. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, as long as you have that dream and you have love in your heart, you can go anywhere.”
You can find videos and links to Beck’s singles and EPs by going to beckblack.com.
To listen to my entire interview with singer, songwriter, producer and instrumentalist Beck Black, click on any of the links below.
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