Interview: Pete Scobell’s Friendship With Wynonna Judd and Cactus Moser Offers Hope, Healing
Pete Scobell has endured his share of hardship, no doubt: A traumatic brain injury (TBI) forced the former Navy SEAL, who served in six deployments overseas, including two in Afghanistan, to focus his attention and talents elsewhere. He found healing through music, and after meeting Wynonna Judd and her husband-slash-producer Cactus Moser because of their Afghanistan war documentary The Hornet's Nest, Scobell was invited by the couple to record an EP with their help ... and the rest is history.
"Wy is one of the most important people in [my] life, and I love her unconditionally and would do anything for her at any moment," Scobell tells The Boot. "I can’t imagine my life without her; I talk to her every day at some point. She really gave me the opportunity that I didn’t have, her and Cactus."
Scobell, who resides in Colorado, initially planned on staying far away from Music City, before Judd and Moser changed his mind.
"I never wanted to come to Nashville," he concedes. "It seemed like a room with no doors, and how do you start? I wasn’t going to show up here and start playing in the bars; I just wasn’t going to do that. To me, I’m a planner: I think, and I’m like, ‘There’s got to be a better way.’ I didn’t want to lose the love for music that I had and replace it with a disappointed disdain for the music industry. I always wanted music to be something special, to be that part of my life.
"Wy gave me that opportunity, and Cactus gave me that opportunity, to learn that business, but in a very loving, consequence-free environment," he continues. "They just cultivated it and said, ‘We’re going to help you where you need to be helped, and we’re going to get through this together.'"
With Judd and Moser, Scobell got connected with some of Nashville's biggest songwriting names, for a four-song EP, Unfinished Business, released in 2014, and a full-length album, 2015's Walkin' a Wire. The latter project features a duet with Judd, "Hearts I Leave Behind," that became a No. 1 on the iTunes charts.
"People look at the cover of my album, and they’re like, ‘How did you get these writers? How did you get these people to participate in your project?’" Scobell shares. "It all just kind of seemed like it was destiny. We’ve got Rodney Clawson, Cole Swindell, Travis Meadows -- all these legendary Nashville people contributing -- and just focused on making good music and focused on telling the story and why we made the music."
In between performance dates, Scobell also openly shares about his recovery from his TBI, with the hope that he can inspire others.
"I think that vulnerability and honesty, especially when you struggle, is a way to show strength," Scobell says. "Our society has cultivated this idea that you can’t have a weakness; you have to be this rock, and no matter what you do, if you have a crack, then we don’t need you anymore ...
"I spoke out because I was a Navy SEAL: I had this stuff that I had done, and somebody who doesn’t know me or doesn’t know about us would think, ‘These guys are the toughest guys in the world. They can’t have a problem,'" he adds. "But when you go, ‘Yeah, I had a problem, and I fixed it, and I’m good, and I’m moving on, and I’m going to talk about it,’ it challenges the status quo and the norm, and it gives people who are suffering hope.
"I think that vulnerability creates a bond, and that same kind of bond that you find in combat because you trust one another, and it’s not because you know everything, but you know you’re going to lift each other up and move forward," Scobell continues. "It’s the same way to cultivate the bond with people on the larger scale through music."
The military man-turned-artist is also passionate about teaching others about music's vital role in recovery from an injury.
"It’s a way to talk about things. But also, from a physical standpoint, music is the only thing that increases blood flow to the brain across -- it uses the entire brain; it actually increases blood flow across your entire brain. You increase blood flow, you increase oxygen, you increase healing," Scobell explains. "From a physical standpoint, music physically heals the injury. From an emotional standpoint, it provides you a place to let out some of the issues and express that. Singing and playing is really the perfect storm for digging yourself out of that hole."
Scobell has made it his mission to not only educate others but also help those suffering from a TBI.
"I spend a lot of time advocating for them," he admits. "I try to educate veterans, and everybody else. Most people are over-opinionated and under-informed as to what their problems are, not just as veterans but extreme sports athletes. They suffer many of the same problems veterans are going through ... There’s a community of us, most unlikely friends, [that] get together because they’re suffering from the same stuff."
Scobell's album and EP are both available for download on iTunes.
More Country Artists Who Have Served Our Country