My vinyl affinity started at age 7. I was attracted to the Curly-Q Pioneer headphones my dad would wear on Sunday afternoons. I wondered why the headphones were so big and why he wanted to be alone. We had a pretty silver Pioneer stereo and I would watch the vinyl spin around, but didn’t know it produced music until one day my dad placed the headphones over my ears. Otis Redding singing “These Arms of Mine” would forever be my introduction to vinyl.
My parents always had either the oldies station or vinyl playing around the house. We didn’t watch TV very much, if at all. I left North Carolina shortly after my first listen to Otis and moved to Central America. My brother gave me his old Walkman and I asked my mother for a tape to play. She gave me another introduction to music that still I love, The Everly Brothers. I wore that tape out. The Everly Brothers still make me smile every time I hear their harmonies.
My after-school days were filled with exploring the Panamanian jungle and soaking in the sounds of wildlife. The tropical frogs were my favorite sounds of the night, which were like the sounds from my brother’s Nintendo. “How can a frog make that sound?!” I wondered. We had no commercial American television or radio stations. The Panamanian stations had some strange music I thought was like a hyper Mariachi band with a Jamaican accent and electronic instruments. At the tender age of 10, my music knowledge was limited but expanding. Aside from these gems, I received a few CDs from my piano teacher: Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, were among them. I wasn’t really excited about piano, but I wanted to be like my brother. We both took lessons starting at age 5 and I started to like the idea that I could create sounds using my fingers and understand a feeling based upon sound.
When we moved back to America in the early 90’s, it was a definitely culture shock. The music on the radio was not oldies and it didn’t sound like the vinyl I loved. It had a different energy. I liked the power of Nirvana when my 6th grade friend played me her tape after basketball practice, but when I went home, I wanted to hear Stevie Wonder’s electric voice, the grain of Ray Charles, and the layers of CCR. I wondered if other kids went home to listen to music for hours on end before bed, if they had a playlist for each activity. Playing Black Sabbath while doing sit-ups in my room during middle school made me feel as badass as one can at 12 years old, and Gladys Knight and The Pips comforted me on Sundays when I cleaned my room.
I went to hundreds of shows as soon as I could drive, sometimes traveling hours to get to other cities in NC or even VA, just to see new music. I was hungry for sound. The tiny southern town I lived in had Bluegrass and Country music that I didn’t appreciate until later in life. I never knew I would eventually live in “Music City”, become a founder of a music and arts non-profit, and meet some of the kindest and most creative people whom I’m honored to call friends. I had no idea that I would work in music publishing or help others create their own vinyl albums. I just knew that I loved music because it connected me to others and helped me explore areas of life that were otherwise untouched until awakened by a specific sound.
When I went to college I realized there are millions of people who have a constant playlist in their heads and to whom, with the needle down, life just seems clearer. Being approached by Austin’s NPR station to dig up old Armadillo World Headquarters concert posters and photos helped me realize that the obsession I have with music history is valued. These thoughts followed me everyday for a few years. On November 8th, 2012, my life changed. I was alone in FL in a dumpy hotel after receiving an experimental treatment for migraines and honestly didn’t know if it would help, hurt, cure or kill me.
I came up with 3 lists that night.
1: As morbid as it sounds, I drafted the playlist to be played at my funeral.
2: I created a list of things I would do if I got better. Things you say you’re gonna do, but haven’t yet.
3: I created another list of things I would do if I didn’t have to worry about money.
I was in so much pain and had been unemployed over a year after being laid off. I was working 2 jobs and every time I mopped a floor or waited tables until the early morning, I thought about the one thing I could rely on- music. I realized that my passion to connect music-lovers stayed at the top of the 2nd and 3rd list and is part of my purpose on this planet. So, here I am doing the thing that makes me happiest; exploring music history and connecting with music-lovers. I hope you have as good a time as I do with every post.