Search & Replace S02E24: Kevin Roth

Musician Kevin Roth shares how he redesigned his life after being diagnosed with stage three Melanoma. Despite his successful career, Kevin wasn’t truly happy. He realized that stress and inflammation contributed to his illness and decided to create a new life. Kevin moved to San Diego and started a “Creative Life Design” that focused on being a musician, artist, and seeking spiritual answers to be happy. After a year of living a life he enjoyed, the cancer never returned. Kevin now helps others create their own “Creative Life Designs” as a life coach. Discover how Kevin encourages people to find passion in their lives and live authentically on Search and Replace.

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialist at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode. 

[00:00:11] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if the mask you put on at work keeps you from seeing what your life could truly be like? I’m Joe Taylor Jr. This is Search and Replace. 

If you or your kids grew up watching Public Television in the US anytime in the last three decades you may have already heard Kevin Roth’s voice, but you might not have realized what was going on underneath Kevin’s upbeat stage persona.

[00:00:39] Kevin Roth: I’d had a very successful music career as a dulcimer player, singer songwriter with about a dozen albums. Than I had more success as a children’s family entertainer from singing Shining Time station on PBS. So my success musically, career-wise, was pretty good. But I discovered that success doesn’t always translate to happiness.

And throughout my life, you know, I’d come from, I guess, the fairly typical dysfunctional family, a little bit of a depression, little mood swings as artists. I was okay but I wasn’t, like, happy, happy. 

And then in 2015, I was diagnosed with stage three Melanoma and told, although they removed the two small spots where the cancer was, that there was a 70% chance that it would return within the year, and then I would be dead within two or three.

[00:01:33] Joe Taylor Jr.: Kevin wasn’t living a rock and roll lifestyle. He was a kid’s musician. The prognosis didn’t align with the life he thought he’d lived and the life he thought he’d still get to enjoy.

[00:01:45] Kevin Roth: I went through several oncologists before I ended up with the one that I wanted. In fact, I write about this in my book ‘Between the Notes,’ the ordeal I had to go through and the fear, because I never thought I would get cancer. I was one of those that thought that happens to other people, doesn’t happen to me. I didn’t smoke. I didn’t really drink. I was really healthy. 

So I decided to go with this one doctor who basically said, don’t do anything cuz there’s no cure and let’s wait and see, but it’s gonna be a year. So it was really a wake up call and I had to really ask myself at that point, three major question: What mattered? Why? and What was I gonna do about it? 

[00:02:29] Joe Taylor Jr.: With a whole year to wait until making any new decisions about his medical treatment, Kevin decided to focus on the things he could control. 

[00:02:37] Kevin Roth: When you get hit with an illness, something like cancer, something deadly, you lose all sense of control. There’s something happening in your body. It may work out, it may not. So it’s importantly, get a sense of control. 

And the first thing I did was choose a great doctor. The second thing I did was to do a lot of research. And then the third thing was to say what brought this on, what brings a lot of illness on for people is stress and inflammation. And I had an abundance of both.

So basically I said, this life is not working. I have to redesign my life, who I wanna be, what I want to do. That was gonna make me happy. Cuz if I only had, let’s say two years to live, I better find out how I wanted to spend my last years. 

[00:03:30] Joe Taylor Jr.: So Kevin chose to design a whole new life for himself, building a process that would lead to the outcomes he really wanted.

[00:03:37] Kevin Roth: So I decided to move from the Midwest to San Diego, and I came up with something called a Creative Life Design, which included what mattered to me, why and what I was gonna do. And it was basically to be a musician, be an artist, hang out with my dog, continue to look spiritually for answers and to be happy.

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. And when you replace what doesn’t work in your life and what does work in your life, you don’t go back to what doesn’t work. So after a year of living a life that I really enjoyed, the cancer never returned, and then I thought, well, I’m not going back to the old way of stressing out.

So I decided to live very simply and to create each day the kind of Kevin that I wanted myself to be. And that included, for me, music playing the dulcimer, hanging out with my dog Bosco. 

[00:04:42] Joe Taylor Jr.: Kevin realized his process worked so well for himself, he could use it to help other people figure out their own creative life designs. And that turned into a whole new career.

[00:04:52] Kevin Roth: I eventually ended up being a life coach, teaching people what I did, which was unexpected. I turned my passion into a business. Which is the other thing that I teach people to do. It’s very important to have passion about your life and to live authentically. I love being a life coach. I really call it a creative life designer because people who come to me feel stuck.

We begin to come up with a life plan, a creative design that they really love, and then as they begin to put those steps and those actions into their life’s work, they start to live it. They learn how to live a balanced, happy life that supports them. In my book, I list eleven vital question for people to ask themselves.

It doesn’t take things like cancer. It could be that you’re unhappy in your job, you’re in an unhappy or unhealthy relationship with someone or with yourself. And you may have some passions, like you may have always wanted to be an artist, but don’t think you have any talent, and everybody has some talent. So we designed a life of your choosing, and I show you how to do that, how to get through the ups and downs. 

There’s hope and there is a way out of a dark abyss into the light, and I’m proving it. You need hope, but you need a vision, which means you need a passion. And when you tune into that every day and you say, this is what I deserve and I’m going for it, then the universe opens up to that.

That’s musician and creative life designer Kevin Roth. We’ve got links to Kevin’s book and to more resources that’ll help you build your own ideal lifestyle in our show notes and on our website at

Search and Replace was produced by Nicole Hubbard with support from Christine Benton, Connie Evans, Amelia Lohmann, April Smith, and Executive producer Lori Taylor.

Our theme music was composed by Alex Rufire. I’m Joe Taylor, Jr.

[00:07:05] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production. 

Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns and Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work.

Learn more about how top performing businesses eliminate barriers between customers and their goals at

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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