We started a tradition in our family several years ago called Thanksgiving-Christmas where we select a timeframe during the season that allows everyone to come together at the Burnett Grandparents’ home to celebrate both of these holidays at the same time with one another.
Thanksgiving-Christmas is a convenient practice when you have adult children with families and lives of their own.
You really only have one family.
You always gain new family members – related by blood and related by bond.
You always lose family members along the way through death and drama.
Family members come and go in and out of your life for whatever reasons.
All of the music I write is motivated by life – a person, place or thing.
THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG
Being a child of the US Civil Rights Era (literally, I was born in 1955), I watched my parents work twice as hard to just be even, vote for the first time in their forties and never teach hate or negativity to us children.
I also saw the stresses of life as a black family after they left military service society contribute to their ultimate divorce.
The last conversation I had with my father before he left for good was one where I saw a tear in his eye.
Until then, I had never before seen him even come close to crying.
He saw that I noticed and told me that crying isn’t a weakness but a strength.
“When we cry it is our purest form of sincerity and it’s a form of communication that is beyond language.
And when we cry angels sing.”
I never forgot that wisdom.
Anytime I confront issues of social justice I remember how important it is to provide sanctuary for those in our charge like our spouse and children.
I’ve had to start over a few times over the years dealing with life matters compounded by the fact of who I am as a man.
We have a thing in our family that is a commitment to never leave anyone behind because we all are going to be wounded by society and life at some point.
I’m committed to living a positive life, with love and one of meritorious self-determination.
Sometimes you run into people who hurt you for that, but I always remember – “when we cry, angels sing” …
And we grow stronger too.
I’m not a poet by any means. But all of my music also has lyrics although I perform and record my music instrumentally.
“WHENEVER WE CRY”
May not be en vogue To be so open and sincere Being in love finds a way To expose every weakness and fear To reveal all of your sunshine and good cheer
So don’t be put off by the moisture in my
Eyes can only see Some things and how they need to be In life’s rude games sometimes played Or those times when we forget to use our best selves
As your own child takes those first steps Hold your breath
We were professional musicians before we met each other in the middle 1970s while working overseas for the U.S. Army’s music program.
Our children and grandchildren likely associate music being created and instruments being played in our home as just a part of life while growing up and over the subsequent years.
We are now ARC recording artists with several releases on the market. We document our music on recordings as part of the inherent legacy representing some of our respective musical works created during the course of the journey of our lives.
The Latest Recording Project
Our latest recording project will be produced and released commercially on the ARC label in 2020. A recent post thoroughly describes “The Standards Project.”
But, our very first recording session was produced during our off-duty hours while we were members of the Army Band at Ansbach, Germany.
The Very First Recording Session
We have always believed in creating the type of life we want to live and that includes where our musical careers are concerned as well.
We don’t wait for things to happen to us. We work to make the things we want to happen. This first recording session illustrates this fact in a very cool way. It was thoroughly planned as well.
By 1979 I was just about finished with the composition and arranging course I was enrolled in and taking from the Berklee College of Music in Boston by mailed correspondence. It took 3 years to compete.
I was writing lots of “tunes” by then and had officially joined the arranging staff of the Army band. Several of my charts were being played in concerts, shows or tours.
We hadn’t a clue of what we were doing as record producers beyond basic knowledge in terms of understanding the music and how to operate the equipment we were using to record.
We didn’t even consider post-production concerns or commercial distribution of the music we recorded.
We were simply learning and creating something musically positive for all of us to do rather than just sit around between the Army band gigs.
Our very first recording session date was December 18, 1979
We produced the recording with fellow Army musicians we worked with at that time.
? The images posted here are of my decades old hand-written notes, LOL!
We recorded one of my originals and my arrangement of Sonny Rollins’ “Pent-Up House.” Following are the credits:
Bob Henry, engineer;
Larry Bennett and James McNeal, trumpet;
Christopher Burnett, alto saxophone;
R. Stephen Gilbert, tenor and soprano saxophones;
Gene Smith, trombone;
Leon Johnson, Fender Rhodes;
Bruce Shockley, bass;
and Dennis Butler, drums.
Terri Anderson Burnett and Christopher Burnett, producers.
For some reason, it all worked out.
Forty Years Later
We are still practicing, performing, teaching, writing and recording music.
There’s no manual for living life that guarantees ultimate outcomes because people have the will to choose. And the travels during a life can wound some beyond repair.
As parents, you just live each day with the intent of creating positive experiences and environments where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. And, always love one another. That’s the best you can likely do as human beings and parents.
We adopted the philosophy to err on the side of love. When our children need us collectively and individually, we are always there for them to the best of our ability.
We are only mortal and do have favorites as parents though.
They are our favorite son and favorite daughter respectively.
Our late mother, Vi Burnett used to say:
“You never know what type of person you are ultimately raising – you simply do your best by your children and the decisions they ultimately make will determine who they become as autonomous adults.”
In 2013 we drove to the Missouri Ozarks to get these three after they visited with their other grandparents. We got to hang with them for a while before their mom (our daughter) came to take them home. Fun summer adventures.
It was also cool to go back to the area we left as brand new empty nesters. We literally started our life together over again when we left there 17 years ago – coming back home to live in the Kansas City metro.
It seems to have proven true again that such things in life happen as they are supposed to.
Our late mother Vi Burnett had many words of motivation and wisdom to share – most encouragement to overcome whatever adversities a person is going to inherently encounter in life.
She used to encourage me to use my talents to create the life I want to live. I saw her overcome. I saw her grow as an adult. I saw her become the best version of herself.
Here’s one of the phrases I constantly heard growing up: “Work hard and be nice (to other people).”
I have learned this phrase in practice keeps you focused on what really matters.
I was having lunch at Fort Leavenworth a couple of weeks ago and just happened to be standing in the buffet line behind a man dressed in Buffalo Soldier uniform and regalia. He was an officer of a local chapter.
The Buffalo Soldier stopped by the Lamp newspaper office with the membership form just before lunch as we previously arranged. I completed the form. The chapter president, whom he brought with him, signed and approved my membership on the spot.