I am always in awe at how life moves in circles. When I was young, my parents were Country Western music listeners. I have fond memories of driving the country in a motorhome with cassette tapes playing and the radio blaring Country legends. At home the same held true, every Sunday, my parents played Scrabble, baked brownies or cookies and listened to the music. Through these moments I came to like Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers’ music. They were one of the biggest names in country music at the time.
Now some thirty years later, I have learned those Gatlin boys had a sister named LaDonna. Maybe it was before my time that she left the family group and became a wife and mother. She has written a book, The Song in You: Finding Your Voice, Redefining Your Life (HCI Books) that shares that we all have a song to sing-something within us that sets us apart as special and unique. We have to find our own voice to be our absolute best.
A great message!
It’s an inspirational path where the reader discovers their own purpose, potential and passion. The book isn’t like most self-help books inspite of that sentence.
Using the seven notes of the musical scale, LaDonna uses her own story, including her
dramatic personal struggles, to craft a spiritually uplifting message:
DO Do the right thing
RE Realize your potential
MI Mind your manners
FA Failures can become fertilizer
SO Solutions begin with me
TI Time is valuable
…that will bring us back to…
DO Do the right thing
The Song in You contains practical, emotional, and spiritual insights gleaned from LaDonna’s experiences as part of a famous musical family, and also as a woman whose faith caused her to walk away from untold riches and fame to follow her heart and sing a
different song apart from her brothers. With a finely tuned voice, sharp wit, and engaging communication style crafted over a lifetime of performing, LaDonna ignites readers to boldly discover their passion, connect with their voice, and embrace a life of purpose and
Discover more about LaDonna through this interview:
1. What’s the main message of the book?
We all have a “song to sing”…something within us that sets us apart as special and unique.
2. Who would be helped by reading it?
Anyone who feels their life is missing some sense of purpose and passion. If you’ve ever felt like you weren’t being heard, valued or understood, this book will help you embrace your own talents and gifts. Also, I’ve experienced some pretty wacky times in my life – it’s a fun read!
3. Is it your life story, or based on your real-life experiences?
It’s BOTH! And I hope my personal experiences will help the reader identify with me. I’m human just like they are. But I think what really makes the book unique is the fact that it also contains seven principles to help guide us through anything life throws at us. My co-author Dr. Mike Marino draws from his wealth of experience and expertise as a counselor and elaborates on those seven
principles. The book is filled with practical insights and solutions.
4. The book talks about your difficult decision to leave the Gatlin family group – how did that impact your relationship with Larry, Rudy and Steve?
The first year was really tough. Everyone’s feelings were hurt. And I can certainly understand that. We had sung together all of our lives. The thought of one of us leaving the group had NEVER crossed anyone’s mind. My brothers assumed (as I had up until that point) that their dream of being in country music was MY dream as well. We had just recorded the hit album “Broken Lady.” How was all of this going to play out? But eventually they realized they could still make great music without “my voice” in the group. In fact, the absence of my voice created the signature harmony they’re so well known for. They quickly saw that indeed I had made the right decision, and they became very supportive.
5. You have been a popular motivational speaker for almost two decades -yet in the book you discuss your depression that led to an attempt to end your own life.
Do you share that with your live audiences when you speak?
How do they receive it?
For obvious reasons, that topic is not appropriate for every audience. But I try to be as transparent as possible; so yes, I talk about that dark time in my life…but only when it is relevant to that particular group. When I do share it, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Grown men have come up to me afterward with tears in their eyes saying they understood depression for the first time. How incredible is that? Mental illness is exactly that…an illness…like cancer or heart disease or diabetes. Yet the terms “mental illness” and “suicide” are still almost taboo in our culture today. I’ve found that humor helps diffuse the “heaviness” of the subject. Please do not misunderstand me. I’m not making light of this, but having a sense of humor definitely helps.
Upon checking into the psychiatric unit following my suicide attempt, I was asked the same two questions repeatedly:
First question: “Why are you here?” My answer: “Suicide attempt.”
Second question: “What do you do for a living?” My answer: “I’m a motivational Speaker!”
Surely I’m not the only one who sees the humor in that!
Simply put, I’m a suicide survivor. If I were a cancer survivor, people would be applauding me. Unfortunately, that is not always the case with mental illness. I’d like to change that perception.
6. How did you meet your co-author Dr. Mike Marino and what did he add to the message of the book?
To be perfectly honest, I met Mike through my psychiatrist, Dr. Todd Clements…yes I see him regularly!!! Dr. Clements is a wonderful psychiatrist who doesn’t just medicate. He treats the whole person…body, mind, and spirit! Mike and I hit it off from the very first phone call. Mike is a Ph.D and has an extensive background in mental healthcare and counseling. He takes the reader “deeper” by offering practical application of the seven principles in the book. At the end of each chapter he provides concrete actions that the reader can implement immediately.
7. What do you mean by the title – “The Song in You – finding your voice, redefining your life?”
I want the reader to feels it’s OK to pursue their dreams, hopes and desires – to
not live their life in response to someone else’s.”
8. What or who has helped you find your personal voice?
My faith in God and my husband Tim. They know me better than I know myself sometimes.
9. Do you still sing?
Yes. The music adds value to my talks, and since my speech TUNE UP YOUR LIFE is a musical metaphor using the Do, Re, Mi’s as its outline, it’s a perfect fit. Also, when your last name is Gatlin, people kinda’ expect you to sing! PLUS…I love it. Mac Davis said, “music is the universal language…” I believe he was right. It sets me apart as a speaker. I always open with a song, and it’s such fun to see the surprise on people’s faces when they realize this is not just going to be a speech!
10. If the reader could take just one thing from the book, what would it be?
There is something unique in each of us. Don’t be afraid to use your gifts and
talents. In short…SING YOUR SONG!