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The Magic of Music

April 16, 2016

The Letetr M

I’m not sure if I believe it to be the language of the soul, at least not everyone’s soul – but I would be pretty hard-pressed to let “M” come and go, and not select MUSIC as the topic for my post.

Colorful Musical Symbols

I cannot remember back to a time in my memory producing life, when music did not play a very significant part in it.

I was born into a musical family. Not the type that is financially significant like the Jacksons or the Osmonds or even the Jonas brothers. But I did get the opportunity to meet Ray Charles with my aunt when we traveled to New York City for a “record date” when I was 8 or 9 years old.

My aunt sang background as one of his chorus members. They were known as the Ray Charles Singers and she had the chance to live a pretty exciting life. Her most noteworthy musical claim to fame was the speaking part in Brian Hyland’s 1960 hit, Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini; she’s the one who says “one, two, three, four…tell the people what she wore.”

I know…I know…the speaking lines aren’t really music, technically speaking, but still…

She and my mom sang together too. They were a pretty obscure sister act back in the 50s. They recorded under an assortment of names most people never heard of, but I grew up listening to the old RCA and DECCA 78s and 45s.

All my mom’s brothers and sisters sang and my maternal grandfather was well-known in the world of Cantorial Music, which is more or less prayer set to music. They had a loyal following of fans in the secular world.

All through school, I sang in choruses and performed in all my high-school musicals, but it wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I became more serious about my music.

I was 19 when I basically taught myself base guitar after applying for the position of lead singer and keyboardist for a top 40 band. The base became a necessity when the applicant who had come in just ahead of me was offered the job. Bobby C., a 31-year-old Italian guitarist who absolutely idolized Glen Campbell, liked my voice enough to offer to help teach me enough to get by for the songs he was planning on having the band perform, if I was game.

The next day, I showed up at his door, my shiny new black and white IBENEZ base guitar in hand. I got the job.

Bobby, the Glen Campbell wanna-be, Louie, the diabetic, keyboard player with the major drinking problem and the drummer John, whose nickname was WACKO (need I say more?) played the central Jersey Mafia-run club circuit for a little more than two years before going down our own separate, musical paths.


But the deed was done. I had been bitten by the music bug. And it wasn’t long before I found myself totally immersed in singing women’s four-part barbershop style harmony.

This, to me, was pure, unadulterated heaven…acapella, where the entire focus was on improving vocal quality and technique. My life quickly was brimming with sing outs, quarteting and regional competitions. I couldn’t get enough! I stayed with it more many years.

Close up of womans hands writing on paper.

Close up of womans hands writing on paper.

Today, I write a lot more than I sing – but when I take a long, hard look at it, I’m still doing what I’ve done all along – I’ve just found a different way to have people hear my voice.

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