I used to joke with my parents that there was no way I could have been adopted (besides the fact that I am a dead ringer for my mother) because I had inherited all their faults and flaws: bad eyesight, allergies, slow metabolism, terrible temper… But of course my parents gave me much more than their problematic genes. Besides their unconditional love and unending support, they gave me their love of music.
My father was a classical music aficionado (read: snob). According to him, if it was written after 1960, it wasn’t music. In my teens and twenties we had many a heated argument over this. He introduced his favorite musical genre to me from even before birth. My parents liked to site the fact that they had season tickets to the San Francisco Opera when my mother was pregnant with me as the reason I became an opera singer. (They were clearly ahead of the curve on the whole Mozart for babies thing.) My father not only adored classical music, he knew it so well he could sing you an entire symphony or piano concerto. He was not a man known for flights of fancy, but when he listened to this music, he was indeed transported to another realm. The only time he ever really sat still was to listen rapturously to Saint-Saens or Rachmaninov on the record player turned up so loudly that the entire house became his private concert hall.
My mother, on the other hand, liked classical music, but her real passion was for, you guessed it, Musical Theatre. She had all the original cast albums from what we now call the Golden Age of Broadway, and in a time when the original casts toured, she saw many of them live in San Francisco. In fact, the reason my name is Amy is due to one of those performances. When she was in her teens, she saw Ray Bolger (better known to most of you as the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz) perform in the musical Where’s Charley at the Curran Theatre and vividly remembered when he did multiple encores of what became his signature song, “Once In Love With Amy.” She told me that the audience kept begging for more encores to the point where he asked them to wait while he sat down on the edge of the stage to rest before continuing! It was such a memorable night, 30 odd years later she named her daughter after that song. My mother had a lovely voice and sang along to those records all the time. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t singing along with them and her too. Some of my fondest memories are of us singing and dancing around the living room to The King and I, My Fair Lady, Camelot, Anything Goes, well, the list goes on and on…
So, basically I was fated to love music and I am truly a fusion of my parents’ musical passions. I have always loved both genres equally; to listen to, as well as to sing, and now teach. Much to my father’s horror, at least in my listening tastes, I did eventually branch out to enjoy other genres from more current eras. I used to secretly listen to the radio in high school, making sure it was off when Dad came home…Madonna, Sting and U2 would just not have gone over well with him. People are often surprised that I listen to such a variety of music- they shouldn’t be. It’s all worthwhile and wonderful to me, thanks in great part to my beloved parents. As Nietzsche said, without music, life would be a mistake.