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Guest Column

August 10, 2013

It takes a village to raise a showman

Just last night, after singing my last song, a charming 8-year-old girl came up to the bandstand and asked if I would sing one more song.

After telling her that I would be more than happy to, my mind was racing to come up with something that she might enjoy. Without hesitation, she requested “I’ve Got the World on a String,” that great Harold Arlen classic that, among others, Frank Sinatra had recorded.

Needless to say, that I was shocked and thrilled at the same time. After I sang the song (much to her delight), she proceeded to tell me that her favorite music is from the Great American Songbook. What a wonderful way to end my evening.

As I was driving home, thinking about this enchanting young lady and her loving family, I was reminded about my beginnings in music, and growing up in Oneonta.

My first memory of music was watching and listening to my dad playing the mandolin. He noticed that it caught my attention, and before I knew it, there was an electric keyboard in the house.

There were three things that he immediately taught me. Pick really good songs. Keep your tempo steady. And always sing and play on pitch.

With that basic knowledge, we had many great jam sessions for many years. Adding to his mandolin skills, my dad has become a crafty organist as well.

My mom had an equal but more subtle role. I needed an audience! She was my biggest fan. But beyond that, she brought home records that I could listen to and learn from.

Going shopping with Mom was always an adventure in sneaking record albums (remember those?) into her grocery cart. I never got turned down. I was very lucky to have such supportive parents. I’ll never be able to thank them enough.

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