I Used to Be Somebody: (Un)Retirement Lessons Learned

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Jeannine Barr Interview: Here comes the Judge — Now Singer / Songwriter!

Diana Landau | April 05, 2024

Jeannine Barr InterviewA criminal district court judge takes up the guitar and never looks back. Carl interviews Jeannine Barr, who says a dream one night "really spoke to her" and she knew she wanted to become a musician. And unlike most people, she left her big career to follow her big dreams and actually took the leap.
Jeannine was born in Baton Rouge, LA as the youngest of three girls. Her father was an electrician and her mother was a nurse. "There were lots of rules in our house," she tells us.
As a student she was very competitive in academics, sports, cheerleading and more.
After college and teaching high school English briefly, she went to LSU law school and eventually became an assistant district attorney for nine years.
Unafraid to take chances, (as you will learn in this episode), Jeannine threw her hat in the political ring in 1994 and was elected as a judge. She moved up to overseeing felony and death penalty cases. She went on to be re-elected five more times, serving 24 years on the bench and retired in 2018.
In 2015, Jeannine said having to run for re-election every four years, plus the uncertainty of it was frustrating. One night she had a vivid dream that she had died creatively and that she was supposed to play the guitar. She announced to her husband the next day that she made a decision to learn to play the guitar at age 54 and he said, "Don't buy anything too expensive!"
After connecting with an encouraging teacher, Jeannine kept learning and challenging herself. She initially thought she'd learn some Christmas songs to play for family. Her teacher suggested she try to write songs and keep on doing it. "Suddenly I was a student and a virtual nobody in the music scene," she adds. She kept playing and writing. In 2018 her teacher introduced to Grammy-winning producer Billy Dorsey. That led to her first recorded song, "The Color Red," and eventually she released a 7-song EP titled, "Late to the Party."
Today Jeannine continues to record new songs and has been featured on the "Women of Substance" podcast. She loves to bowl with a league every week and lives with her husband, cats, (and guitars) in Houston, TX. She says, "At the end of the day, we're going to regret what we didn't try."


Jeannine Barr's (un)retirement tips:
  • "Going to my first guitar lesson was incredibly humbling. I found it very difficult. The beauty of it was that I was vulnerable and it would be ok."
  • "I went from directing bailiffs to having zero idea of what to do. It was a total role-reversal for me. Yet also---- a whole new gig!"
  • "Just try it. Follow the dream. Try not to be too impatient with yourself."
Jeannine was so inspired by being interviewed that she wrote Carl a song "I Used to be Somebody". Listen here!  


• More about Jeannine Barr 
• Sponsored by How to Retire and Not 
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage
• (Un)Retirement Travel with the Pro Allan Wright Zephyr Adventures
• I Used to be Somebody World Tours Tuscany, Portugal, Pickleball Adventure


Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the "I Used to be Somebody" blog.


Tags:    I Used To Be Someboday   (Un)Retirement   Jeannine Barr Interview   Judge   Singer/Songerwriter