CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte musician is helping women connect in an unusual way thanks to a business plan that was actually in place years ago, but is perfectly suited for the pandemic.
They're called Lady Rockstars. It's become a source of unexpected connection in a year when that's been hard to find.
If you search YouTube for guitar lessons, Krystle Baller said the instructors all look pretty similar.
"You go online and type in guitar tutorial you’re going to get 95% are white men," Baller said. "I feel like it's important that as many instruments are available to women as possible because we often don’t see ourselves reflected in the music industry."
Krystle Baller teaches music lessons and is also the creator of Lady Rockstars through her company Pachyderm Music Lab.
"The premise before the pandemic was that we would learn a couple songs together and then go play as a band at an open mic," she said.
Like many people, she had to switch gears and start teaching the classes and hosting performances online. But her business was actually already set up that way – even before 2020, thanks to her YouTube channel.
"I realized people could practice on their own with my step-by-step instructions and then whenever we come together people ask me questions," Baller said.
When COVID-19 hit, she decided to add a lot of free content.
"I wanted to create programming for everybody, for people that couldn’t afford to do my in-person classes," she said. "So I had all this free content."
She needed an SBA loan to stay afloat and admits she’s not exactly living the rock-star life, but Baller now has women from around the world rocking with her, including 5th grade Charlotte teacher Angela Gaio, who said taking lessons and playing in a band -- even virtually -- is the best stress relief ever, and not just because she gets to bang on the drums.
"Of course the music is an amazing piece and that’s what brings us together, to begin with," Gaio said. "But it ends up turning into connection. It's been that little slice of connection and normalcy that I've needed."