Our mother, Vi Burnett said something to me once about her family and us children that I continue to find to be subtly insightful.
“You don’t know what type of people you are raising. You just do your best and hope life doesn’t hurt them too badly that it dampens their spirit.”
— Mom Burnett
She also often quoted the adage that our children are only “on loan to us for a few years.”
But the thing that really stuck most of all is when she said that “you will never forget the times when all of your children were still living in your home.”
I understand her context much better now that I am the exact age she was when she said that to me in the 1990s. And, it’s true.
It’s not that you want to smother your children and keep them from engaging their own lives. It’s that you miss the times and when you finally figure out what you are doing, your kiddos are gone. It’s both beautiful and melancholy at once.
The goal of parenthood – bringing people into the world who didn’t ask to be here – is to nurture positive contributors to this world.
In hindsight, I can say we have done that in parenting both our son and daughter.
We’re equally proud of both of them as kick-ass adults and just as in love with them today as we were on those days we respectively met each of them in their delivery hospitals.
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.
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’m shown here with our three eldest grandchildren at the conclusion of a visit to our home by Jesse Newman and Curtis McClinton to see our eldest brother, Richie Pratt, who had recently returned home after having lived in Hawaii for nearly thirty years.
“So, I get home from work today and there is a strange car in the driveway. I walk in the house from the garage and Curtis McClinton is sitting in my easy chair and Jesse Newman is sitting on the sofa in the living room. These two Jayhawks came by to visit our Jayhawk, Richard Dean today. It turns out that Curtis was involved in the work of initially setting up the 18th & Vine District and Jesse has been big in community advocacy and education. They plan on visiting regularly. It was cool for our grandchildren to get to meet them too …”
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The three of them played varsity football at the University of Kansas in the 1960s (1960-69 Rosters). Richie ultimately had a shot with the New York Giants and Curtis went on to greatness with the Kansas City Chiefs.