Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Musical Influences and Remembrances

Okay I am child of the 70's and 80's but my musical tastes are from all over the place and different genres. I have told my mom that I think she had the FM radio up against her tummy when she was carrying me. Ha! I have always loved music and singing. Love Blues, Jazz, Classical, some Opera (depends on who is singing) etc. At home when I was growing up the music on the turntable and radio for the most part was country. Although they listened to lite rock, classical and some jazz. My dad was big into the country music his favorites were Roy Clark, Marty Robbins (my favorite album of his was the Gunfighter Ballads but I just loved his voice) Glen Campbell, etc. My mom loved those too but she added Tammy Wynette, Linda Ronstadt, the Mamas and the Papas, Carly Simon, and some other lite Rock stuff into the mix . They also loved Lawrence Welk music. We watched the Lawrence Welk show and Hee Haw in the same weekend. Can we say opposite sides of the spectrum :-)
Another musical influence was my Aunt who babysat us many times. She was only 7 years older so she was more like a big sister than my aunt. So she introduced us to Fleetwood Mac, Three Dog Night, Jim Croce, and Seals and Croft, James Taylor as well as some others from the early 70's. And of course we listened to the FM radio all the time in the car and at home.

During this time my older brother and I were starting to like our own groups and were sharing albums and records. We listened to the Beach Boys, Elton John, Bread, the Four Seasons (I know, not exactly a pop or rock group) and many others. I wish I could remember the first 45 (record) that I bought. But sadly I can't. I just remember having my little green record player in my bedroom, using the knobs from my canopy(they held the frame of the canopy onto the bedposts; dumb move on my part: the whole canopy could have fallen :-( but hey I was little and didn't know) as my microphone and singing into the mirror thinking absolutely no one in the house could hear me, ha ha ha ! My mom says she loved to hear what I thought they were singing as I sang along. Am sure that was a riot.

As I got into my teen years I began drifting away from my brothers rock stuff even though I loved, Boston, Journey, Pablo Cruse, TOTO, ELO and others that he did I became fascinated with ballads, etc and started listening to the Carpenters (I mean who didn't want to be Karen Carpenter and play drums and sing?) Olivia Newton John, Anne Murray, ABBA, Barry Manilow, John Denver, etc. Yeah all the stuff that made my brother want to hurl. Last but not least in my teens we were introduced to Christian Radio and from that we discovered Amy Grant, Petra (but only on Saturday nights, ha ha) Michael W Smith, Chris Christian and many others. This began a lifelong love for Contemporary Christian Music. Although now my loves tend to run more toward praise and worship.

So all of this created the love for music not to mention singing. My mom has a great soprano voice and actually taught me and my brother how to harmonize usually with her as she was playing the piano to tunes such as How Great Thou Art and It is No Secret, and hymns, as well as some older 50's music that she played as a little girl: Pat Boone and Connie Francis stuff. I loved learning to do that with her. My dad has a great voice as well so he would teach me to harmonize along with his bass baritone notes in church as we sang the hymns. Of course during this time I was taking piano lessons so I was learning notes and chord structures so I could pick out the notes in the hymnal and sing those, but for the most part I just loved picking out my own harmony. To this day I will drive my family nuts because I will sing along with something but not the melody, I am picking out a harmony to go along. At concerts I would do the same thing. A friend in college would get SO irritated: he hated sitting next to me, (but he was the one who CHOSE to sit next to me, so his fault) because I would sing along, not always but lots of times I would (i don't like it when people do that at concerts now, so I am getting paid back for annoying him I guess.) He would ask me the same thing everytime: "Sherry,do you like what they are singing?" and I would say, "yes". Then he would reply "Then be quiet and let THEM sing." Nice, huh? So of course, I would just have to continue to sing along just to annoy him. ;-)

When I entered High school I had a great Choir Teacher: Mrs. Mona Knowles. She was fabulous and loved encouraging her students to use their talents and discover new ways to use and grow that talent. She knew that my best friend and I loved to harmonize so when we had some 4 part girl songs she would encourage Patty and I to find a different harmony and sing out. Now that doesn't mean that it all sounded good, but she would work with us to hear it as well as sing it out. I learned a lot about encouraging people to find their giftedness as well as hearing harmony from her. And she was also a big reason I began praying about being a music major in college and discerning what it was that God wanted me to use this gift for.

I did enter college as a music major(and actually Mrs. Knowles Alma mater: as a vocal performance: contralto; music education. What the fancy voice part means is that I was an alto who had a rather low vocal range but could also sing the lowest of the high range of a mezzo soprano. If you know anything about the keyboard on a piano I was 2 notes shy of having a 3 octave range in i have that now, no way. Haven't exercised those vocal cords in that way in a long time. In college my favorite professor was Dr. Piper. He encouraged me tremendously. When you get into the performance arena in college it can be extremely competitive and intimidating. But he and my voice teacher encouraged me to try new things, new styles, and to quit being shy and SING! They tricked me into singing for master classes etc, just to get me to sing in public more. Yeah really nice to come for a "meeting" or extra voice lesson only to find out you are singing in 10 minutes in front of a group of people you didn't know. I disappointed them however by changing my major to religion just one course year shy of being able to have my music degree. Why? I knew at that point that I was called to ministry and had a religion professor tell me I had to do that. Truly a dumb move and a waste of money and time. I did learn a lot in those religion courses but also ended up repeating many things when I went to seminary. If I could go back and do it over I would finish my music degree and then go to seminary for my religion classes.

So what does all this rambling reminiscing mean? I guess I am asking what have the influences been on your life? Can you trace the lines of where certain loves for things began? Not that that is truly life altering but I think its a good thing to think about where you came from, how you got to this place in your life doing what you do, and what and whom God used in your life to get you where you are now. Its like the memorial markers that the patriarchs of the Old Testament used, those stones of remembrance.Something to look back to. Today you would equate it with the Vietnam vets wall, the WWII memorial, etc. Things that help us to remember what has happened and how we got here where we are. Take some time and think through it, its fun, and I think it helps us to discover all the places in our life where God was sculpting, trimming, directing, guiding and growing us. And all this in turn I think helps us to move forward in our lives doing what God has been leading us toward.

1 comment:

Amy M. Fry said...

No WAY!! I couldn't BELIEVE it when I saw GF Ballads album cover on my blog-follow list! I can sing every single song on that album. Ok, I'm older than you, um, a lot-but only in years, in my mind I'm about your age :), but I was with my Daddy when he bought that album when it first came out. (I was, um, FOUR.) And I still have it - Dad's original Marty Robbins Gunfighter Ballads. Too Strange Sherry!
Musically, we are so alike it's a bit frightening, but I think it's pretty cool. (ok, all except the Carpenters, who I secretly sorta liked, and can sing their biggies but never owned any and wouldn't now).
I too have been strolling down memory lane lately, and like you, music played a huge part of my life, and still does. I'm "retired" now, (quit to homeschool my youngest), but I never EVER turn on the TV during the day, All music, ALL the time. My iPod is one of the most eclectic collections ever, except for maybe my oldest son's. He inherited my love of music and listens to EVERYTHING as well. (I'm so proud) :)
I did a long blog about choices that had some history in it, but am going to take it out and edit it cuz i'm not pleased with it.
I LOVED this post of yours and am encouraged to "copy" you a bit. But just a bit.