RICHMOND, Va. -- She’s the gravel-voiced siren of Richmond’s rock scene. As the lead singer of Rosie Soul and the Rock n Roll Cowboys, Rosie is electricity in leather. Her signature song is a mash-up between AC/DC’s "Whole Lotta Rosie" and Led Zeppelin’s "Rock n Roll." One line she blasts to the crowd is, "You can say I got it all!" The band did have it all.
The band was voted best band in Richmond three times in a row by readers of Style Weekly. They released an album of original songs. Their stylistic music videos highlight the pounding rhythms of the Cowboys and Rosie’s shocking and sexy look; horns and all. Sponsors, including Jägermeister, helped fund their five years of touring up and down the East Coast. The drummer of the band just so happens to be Rosie’s brother, Eddie Buchanan. He brings the thunder, but it’s Rosie who brings the electricity.
"That energy; it's magic," Eddie said. "I'm her brother; been playing behind her for years and I still can't describe how she does that."
Fans know the she-monster on the stage, but there’s a whole lot of Rosie they don’t know. Her real name is Cathy Buchanan. Away from the stage, the lights, and the noise, she rocks to a softer beat. Cathy spends the down time rocking in a chair on the front porch of her cabin in Hanover. The booming of speakers is replaced by the buzzing of dragonflies.
"Ha! We got us a little bug swarm going on over there," Rosie said pointing to the cloud of gnats over the garden just off the porch. "You know, everyone wants peace and to be happy. Stillness and stuff makes me very happy. So it's important to me. I would like to sit here and do this a lot."
If you’ve only seen her as Rosie, wearing a costume of corset, chains and her signature horns, you might not even recognize her. On the porch it's sweatpants and flip-flops, not leather pants and spiked boots.
"I joke about, that if I walked around as Rosie all day, I would be in trouble probably," Cathy said. "Or in jail maybe."
Lead guitarist Jamie Lloyd has shared five long years on the road with Rosie. He's looking forward to walking down country roads like the one in front of the cabin with Cathy. They’re planning on getting married. On a lazy summer day a few weeks ago their talk turned to getting long overdue physicals. That led to a visit to the doctor that would change everything.
Rosie Soul has Breast Cancer
Cathy was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"If we had not done what we did and this was caught a year from now, two years from now we'd be in a completely different boat," Jamie said.
The band had been talking about slowing down anyway. Most of the band members are in their 40’s with full time jobs. The diagnosis made the decision final. Rosie Soul and the Rock n Roll Cowboys would hang it up. Rather than just quit, the band decided to hold one last concert.
The Final Show
On a Saturday night at the Richmond Harley Davidson’s Marks & Harrison Pavilion, the band would rock it out one last time. This time it wasn’t just for the fans; it was to talk about breast cancer awareness.
Rosie rocked, but also reminded fans it was important for women to get a mammogram. She told the men in the crowd to get involved, reminding them that it was her fiancée who talked her into getting checked out in the first place.
While quiet Cathy will fight her breast cancer in her own way, Rosie is ready to “kick it right in the ***." Eddie said both Cathy and Rosie always have a positive attitude.
"She's found a way to do that with this," Eddie said. "Even as something as serious as cancer."
It’s that positive attitude that has fans hoping this isn’t Rosie’s swan song after all.
"I think she's going to get healthy and she'll come back," fan Brenda Holmes said. "Let everybody know this is what happens when you are proactive. Take care of your health and you can do anything."
Rosie Soul. Cathy Buchanan. The rocker on stage can now spend that much longed for time rocking on her porch.
Richmond loves a fighter; and this fighter has a lot of loving fans cheering her on.