I have always been secretly jealous of people who could sing. Perhaps it was because I got kicked out of mixed chorus in high school…three years in a row. Okay, I exaggerate. I was asked, ever so nicely, not to come back…three years in a row. Guess they didn't need a female frog.
That didn't keep me from memorizing the lyrics to hundreds of hit songs from the '60s and singing them with great enthusiasm every chance I got. I especially loved Janis Joplin. What I lacked in quality, I made up for in volume.
There was an upside. There's always an upside. My plan B was that if all else failed, I could stand on any street corner and sing '60s songs. People would surely pay me to stop. I tested my back-up plan a couple of times, once in Maui and another time in San Francisco. Very promising, indeed.
To my great delight, our nieces and nephews were born with gobs of musical talent among their many other gifts. As they were growing up, we attended as many performances as we could and thoroughly enjoyed being their fans, cheering rowdily, and bragging to anyone within six feet.
Fast forward a few decades — it’s February 2013. Our nephew, Matthew Gladden, performed professionally with Charles Bruffy's Kansas City Chorale. Along with other members of the choir, Matt and his wife Meaghan attended the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. The very Grammy Awards hosted by LL Cool J. No big deal, really. The choir was nominated for a couple of Grammys. And did I mention that Matt had a small solo in one of the album selections?
Sure enough, the Kansas City Chorale's 2012 album "Life & Breath-Choral Works by Rene Clausen" received two Grammy Awards, one for best choral performance and one for best engineered classical record.
Thanks to technology, we felt as though we were attending the Grammys in person. Cheering and carrying on, we shared the moment, over and over.
One of the first Facebook posts from Matt following the Grammy announcement was to thank Ms. Ginny Simons — a vocal teacher from elementary school. I couldn't decide whether I was prouder of the Grammy or that, at that moment, Matt remembered a teacher from long ago.
My uncle Jess Clonts taught several generations of high school students in a small, rural Missouri town. Uncle Jess passed away nearly 30 years ago, and yet, his daughter Anne frequently hears from students who recount amazing stories about how her father impressed and shaped their lives. The stories come from professionals in various fields from all over the country. One such story about uncle Jess came from an airline pilot living in Virginia. It is no accident that Anne is a dedicated, creative and passionate educator. Thank you, Anne. And thank you to all educators.
It’s never too late to thank those teachers, mentors, coaches and bosses who saw your potential before you ever had a clue!