When I was in sixth grade, my mother bought me a small piano, and I kept it in my bedroom, right next to my bed. I would literally crawl out of bed in the morning, and start playing something on the piano (funny how that has not changed). I started music lessons the same year I got the piano, and began playing for my sixth grade dance class at school. That was my first experience with accompanying the lives of others through music; a life-long passion for me. I had an amazing piano teacher who taught me how to read classical music, write music, analyze music theory, play by ear, Bel Canto singing, and much more. That started me off at a very early age with the mindset that anything is possible in your chosen art.
My father and mother were the most important influence in my life, and still are, even though they both passed several years ago. My mother had a master’s degree in education from USC, and taught school for most of her life. Both of my parents carried full-time jobs in the big city, yet managed to maintain a goat farm in the country. In our rustic country setting, my mother began to cultivate the young lady who was inside of me. With two older brothers, her guidance helped me navigate the “t-shirt and blue-jean” days of my life with style. She shared her passion for classical music, art, fashion and style with me, and bought a sewing machine so I could sew the latest fashion at home. She also started me on lessons in the arts at an early age. Her encouragement and praise left a lasting impression on me, and I have tried to model that in my own life. I will always be thankful to her for her selflessness, and thankful for so many intangible gifts my parents gave me. My Dad was a quiet man with a great sense of humor, and loved the outdoors. He was an amateur photographer, yet his work seems comparatively professional by many standards today. He was a great fan of the work of Ansel Adams, and portraits were his particular gifting. He seemed to be able to catch the essence of the personality he was photographing with amazing accuracy. My parents made sure we went to church on Sundays, and talked about God’s sovereignty and grace with a deep respect.