As I write the inspirations pieces, I am beginning to see a pattern becoming clear about the people who touch me and an apparent void I feel in my own life that has me resonating with them on some level, admiring how they live their lives. The person I write about today, Shana K. Tucker, is yet another example of that. Allow me to tell you a brief, but hopefully charming and pleasant story of the beginning of our friendship.
I was just finishing my preparations as soundman for an event at the Yanceville Street Farmers Market in Greensboro, NC. The market was featuring local artisans and had booked several musicians to perform during the day. Given the rural feel of the event, I had anticipated a particular style of music - maybe more in the vein of country, folk, or bluegrass. So, I was surprised to find a young attractive black woman carrying a cello case on her back, beaming a smile that I recognized immediately. She was the bright young cellist I had done sound for a few months earlier at Art in the Arboretum. I had told Shana how much I enjoyed her music that day and greeting her now, asked how her CD was coming along. She filled me in on the details as she spent a moment scanning the space designated for the performers. The planners had chosen to hide the music in a corner room that felt more like a concrete block cell. I did my best to reassure her that things would sound just fine. She seemed undaunted or affected by the surroundings and we got right down to doing a sound check. She was quick and precise with her needs as far as the sound levels and other adjustments to be made. Within minutes she looked at me and said "Ok, I think I'm ready" again with a poise and ease not typically seen in these situations. A soulful jazz filled the room like the aroma from a new scented candle and its effects were enticing.
As she performed, people were drawn to find where the music was coming from and sit, responding to and sharing the smile that barely left her face. Eyes would close as she went from one heartfelt composition to another. She was not baring her soul; she was pouring it out in every note she played and it was being absorbed happily by the small crowd that had gathered. Heads would rock, feet would tap and the applause increased at the finish of each piece. Shana made herself right at home that day and welcomed everyone into her new "house" and made them feel like family, speaking openly, genuinely and revealingly between selections. There were many anxious to speak to her by the time she was done. She greeted and spoke to each of them happily and with patience. I watched the whole thing and was once again moved by her music, and impressed with her warm and approachable demeanor. Her personality fit her music: bold, expressive and filled with a unique style and emotion. Along with everyone else there that day, I knew there was no doubt this woman was going places.
That is the extent of my personal connection with Shana Tucker. The rest of the time since then, I have watched from a distance as she has ascended the ladder of success through plenty of hard work, persistence, with the help of a growing fan base and steady acceptance of her musical prowess. I have been pleased to see her reach the goals she has worked so hard to achieve, while as best I can tell, not compromising her integrity or character in the process. It appears from what I see and hear that Shana is well on her way and moving at ever-increasing speed along a road she was already blazing for herself that day I met her a few years ago. I don't know if she even remembers me or shares my recollection of our meeting and whether she does or not is really not important. What is important is we both got something out of it. I got to see someone emulating the kind of life I admired and she got to make some new fans and add another stepping stone on what can only be described as her "Yellow Brick Road".
I look forward to the day I get to sit down with Shana and interview her for my featured artist series, which is evolving in ways I can't wait to share with you, so watch for details on that, coming soon!