LIFE: You either quit or keep going. They both hurt.

AN HUMBLE ARTICLE OF PRAYER SUBMITTED FOR THANKSGIVING

I grew up in a sibling family of leaders. We Burnett siblings were all taught by both of our parents to be independent in almost all things from a young age. And that was tangibly reinforced as each of us saw among the others of us the various stages of each one growing toward being the independent people our parents were hopefully training back then. Again, Mom Burnett used to say “you never know what type of person you are raising, you just do your best and hope.”

Music is among the most objectively honest things a person can do in life.
You can either do it or you can’t do it yet.
And neither condition is a permanent state of being.

I had four brothers and four sisters whom I got to know personally while growing up. Yes, there were nine of us children who had lived beyond birth. Our sibling birth years range from 1943 to 1964 a span of over 20 years. I am a late Baby Boomer, the exact middle in that birth order with two older brothers and two older sisters, and two younger sisters and two younger brothers.

That means our mother literally had school-age children from the age of 19 until she was 59 years old. Think about being nearly 60 and attending your youngest child’s high school graduation ceremony. Wow. Different times and societal eras.

Our two eldest brothers were NCAA DIV 1 varsity scholarship athletes.

And although there are literally two generations contained within my sibling family cohort, our parents must have done a great job raising us because I don’t recall any of my siblings ever being purposefully divisive, troublemakers, or liars against one another in order to gain favor or approval. Sibling rivalries, yes. Dustups and scraps, yes. But maliciousness, or vengeful intentions, no.

We each maintained a level of character and decency as we had been purposely taught by our parents and elders that was based on the “Golden Rule” and other standard biblical principles. That doesn’t mean any of us were or are perfect.

I grew up attending St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church in Paola, Kansas.

I heard my mother say on numerous occasions that if “something” ever happened to her, we’d be able to successfully fend for ourselves competently. She succeeded in that goal and all of us were equipped to live lives of quality. But it was and has always been up to us and our own choices. That’s key.

During this process parents inherently piss off their children. Most people have heard such parental lamentations like: “this hurts me more than it does you” and “you may not understand now but you will later.”

Every year my high school class still gets together for a reunion in the town where we all grew up.

As leaders, we were inherently taught how to deal with “bullies” of all types. We learned that bullies could be friends and strangers of course, but also among the people in your family and inclusive of other dear loved ones.

We learned all of this BEFORE we left our sibling home to make our own paths as autonomous adults in the world at large. I don’t recall ever hearing of someone taking advantage of (or deceiving) any one of my siblings by catching them unaware of such nonsense no matter how things often look in the short or mid-terms of development. And we didn’t get into many physical altercations.

A pre-growth spurt picture with my 8th-grade basketball team. I was 5′ 2″ tall and started at point guard.

We were all taught to play the “long game” as you do in chess.

Some lessons eventually stuck with us as base character traits. We were taught “right from wrong” and we didn’t act like it was someone else’s fault whichever of those we chose to do in a given situation or circumstance. At least we didn’t try to do that within our sibling family or in the company of close family friends because we knew someone or everyone would call it out.

Morning coffees with T 💕

Terri’s Anderson sibling family lived parallel to the Burnett sibling family ethos described here. I also observed how both of her parents interacted with her as an adult. T was groomed to be a refined lady and musical artist.

Professional photo shoot in T’s Office Studio

When she and I became our own branch of the family in 1979, we intentionally raised our two children to hopefully be confident leaders. And ethical people. However, we have learned that what they actually become is largely on them.

All of this “tough love talk” actually does take into account that we all get to a place in life where we’re beset by serious challenges that can hurt us to the literal point of permanent damage or actually kill us prematurely.

Thanksgiving and Homecoming with our eldest. 💕
Visiting our youngest and her family in England. 💕

These are among the “old people lessons” that my mother Violet and Terri’s mother Sintha used to try to give us forewarning of before we became parents of adult children. At some point, you have to let your children stand on their own. And sometimes they won’t like it. Sometimes they will get over it and sometimes they won’t, or at least it might take some living with their own adult children to come to terms with how their own parents have been previously judged. We have already learned that one.

Even though we are successful adults and successful parents with a family of our own by most of those common metrics, and Google searches didn’t exist back then, I was still actually mature enough to know that I was not my parents’ friend or peer – no matter how old I got. It doesn’t work like that in Black culture. I know that showing elders such respect actually doesn’t diminish me in reality, it shows that I can be counseled and taught.

We were fortunate to find out we were musicians.

Sometimes we parents can overprotect to the point of spoiling certain aspects of the development of our children. We all do it no matter how much we try not to make the mistakes with our own children that our parents did with us.

But I do know that I have yet to see anyone who practices evil deeds succeed in this life over the long term. Likewise, reciprocity is simply meted out to balance such extremely warped souls who think that they have all of the answers until they don’t. Sometimes we need such checks and balances to provide a path toward healing.

I come from a noble line of people and am proud to carry on my family’s heritage.

I have learned that familial love isn’t about keeping score. And it is a sad perversion when that type of mentality enters into family dynamics on any level. Weaponizing the Internet to “troll” or “bully” one’s family is comical to someone of my generation because people my age don’t actually need technology as a definitive part of our daily lives like that.

And in an age when you can literally search the Internet on your device until you find something (and you will) that validates or justifies your position, regardless of the topic, the possibility of miscommunication among loved ones is amplified.

We’ve done pretty well for two professional musicians who also became a family in our twenties.

This simply shows a lack of character, or a moral lapse in the least, and the hilariously incompetent use of a potentially marvelous communication tool. It’s like the unintentionally malicious use of email to send stupid chain letters that you didn’t compose to all of your friends without using the Bcc feature to hide their email addresses. Except on purpose.

Starting fights with me or “ghosting” me from behind computer or smartphone screens is like someone cursing me out in a language I don’t understand or speak. You really told me off, but did you? So, using a “meme” as the basis of the title of this article is sort of ironic.

I think the reason that I truly don’t buy into the hype of all that is because I learned enough lessons while growing up and know the difference between doing what is “right and wrong” at the core of my being. I know that hate never wins. I will not practice hate regardless of the situation. I will choose to leave you alone rather than hate you. Hopefully, peace will win.

Having lived long enough now to have been with some fine people at the ends of their lives and witnessing that to a person each one stated in their own vernacular and words essentially that life isn’t about winning arguments or one’s own selfish pursuits.

THANKSGIVING: We always have more to be thankful for than not. We all need the help of others.
Each day is a new opportunity to do something positive and use your talents for good. You might have the opportunity to help someone else help themselves to get through one more day and not give up.

We can usually overcome being imperfect humans and mend family relationships even if mental illness, alcoholism, or substance abuse are part of the dynamics that we need to mend. However, we are not to let ourselves be abused by such wounded spirits no matter if they are embedded within people we love deeply.

LIFE: You either quit or keep going. They both hurt. Read that again.

A house and a home…

💕 We’re proud of our heritage as an active duty military service family.

From March 1979 to March 1983 our family lived in Germany, Maryland/Military District of Washington, and Tidewater Virginia.

Both of our children were also born during those years.

We moved six times in those first four years.

By 1983 when we moved to Missouri I had risen in rank and qualifications so there were fewer assignment billets to post me to.

Thus the pendulum of moving lots stopped and we ultimately lived there for the remainder of our active duty service career and a few years afterwards from April 1983 to February 2001.

Our children essentially grew up in the Missouri Ozarks within the community outside of the major military installation that’s located there.

2013 to forevermore

Terri Anderson Burnett was a music major but went back to school to finish general education courses, taught elementary school, and earned lifetime certification in the state.

We built our first home in 1988.

The photos below include several Polaroid snapshots that my family sent to me when I had to go to the NATO Band and Armed Forces School of Music assignments unaccompanied while they stayed in our home.

Mother Burnett came to live with us there for the first five years after she retired and during the three years I was away on those unaccompanied tours of duty.

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Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett established their branch of The Burnett Family in March of 1979 in Copenhagen, Denmark. They are professional musicians, educators, and entrepreneurs based in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. 

And it’s ultimately just about lifelong learning

The “artist side of me” thinks that the paradigms of our social and economic systems are inherently set around capitalizing on things we do to perpetuate our species (like childbearing and child-rearing).

MIDI AUDIO MOCK-UP DEMO OF “INTERSTITIUM” BY CHRISTOPHER BURNETT (BMI)

We make industries out of “becoming” and many of us can lose sight that the goal is to actually arrive and “be.”

MIDI AUDIO MOCK-UP DEMO OF “DEFRANZO LOOP” BY CHRISTOPHER BURNETT (BMI)

And as musicians, we all eventually learn that it actually takes many many years after completing a degree program or course to truly master most of the information and materials that were studied and taught.

MIDI AUDIO MOCK-UP DEMO OF “SONG FOR MICAH” BY CHRISTOPHER BURNETT (BMI)

It also truly almost takes just as long to simply recognize that fact because most people are too busy living day to day to pay attention to such nuances and details.

THE STANDARDS, VOL 2, LIVE AT THE DRUM ROOM IN KANSAS CITY: “INVITATION” BY CbQ

But, that’s all part of the process of living and reinforces it’s ultimately about lifelong learning.

“FIREBIRD” BY CHRISTOPHER BURNETT (BMI)

As successful musicians, artists, and people we ultimately learned to first be of service to others and our community rather than simply using every encounter for shallow selfish purposes.

“NOTOS (THE SOUTH WIND)” BY CHRISTOPHER BURNETT (BMI)

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Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett established their branch of The Burnett Family in March of 1979 in Copenhagen, Denmark. They are professional musicians, educators, and entrepreneurs based in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. 

Truth is Truth

‼️💥 Inspiring, huh? Here are more quotes attributed to Marian Wright Edelman: We have found that great people are able to make the connection between great philosophy and tangible action in the real world and the lives of real people every day. We simply aspire to that as a goal too. ~ Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett

“Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.”

“Children must have at least one person who believes in them. It could be a counselor, a teacher, a preacher, a friend. It could be you. You never know when a little love, a little support will plant a small seed of hope.”

“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”

“The question is not whether we can afford to invest in every child; it is whether we can afford not to.”

“You just need to be a flea against injustice. Enough committed fleas biting strategically can make even the biggest dog uncomfortable and transform even the biggest nation.”

“Be real. Try to do what you say, say what you mean, and be what you seem.”

“Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.”

“Character, self-discipline, determination, attitude and service are the substance of life.”

“It is so important not to let ourselves off the hook or to become apathetic or cynical by telling ourselves that nothing works or makes a difference. Every day, light your small candle…. The inaction and actions of many human beings over a long time contributed to the crises our children face, and it is the action and struggle of many human beings over time that will solve them with God’s help. So every day, light your small candle.”

“Be a good ancestor. Stand for something bigger than yourself. Add value to the Earth during your sojourn.”

“You can achieve much in life if you don’t mind doing the work and giving someone else the credit.”

“It’s time for greatness – not for greed. It’s a time for idealism – not ideology. It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action.”

“A nation that does not stand for its children does not stand for anything and will not stand tall in the future.”

“The future which we hold in trust for our own children will be shaped by our fairness to other people’s children.”

“Investing in [children] is not a national luxury or a national choice. It’s a national necessity. If the foundation of your house is crumbling, you don’t say you can’t afford to fix it while you’re building astronomically expensive fences to protect it from outside enemies. The issue is not are we going to pay – it’s are we going to pay now, upfront, or are we going to pay a whole lot more later on.”

“Learn to be quiet enough to hear the genuine within yourself so that you can hear it in others.”

“Don’t feel entitled to anything you didn’t sweat and struggle for.”

“You didn’t have a choice about the parents you inherited, but you do have a choice about the kind of parent you will be.”

“If we don’t stand up for children, then we don’t stand for much.”

“No time is ever wasted if you have a book along as a companion.”

“It is utterly exhausting being Black in America – physically, mentally, and emotionally. While many minority groups and women feel similar stress, there is no respite or escape from your badge of color.”

“You can’t be what you can’t see.”

“A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back – but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you.”

“Don’t just dream about grandiose acts of doing good. Every day do small ones, that add up over time to positive patterns.”

“Never let us confuse what is legal with what is right. Everything Hitler did in Nazi Germany was legal, but it was not right.”

“Failure is just another way to learn how to do something right.”

“What’s wrong with our children? Adults telling children to be honest while lying and cheating. Adults telling children to not be violent while marketing and glorifying violence… I believe that adult hypocrisy is the biggest problem children face in America.”

“When Jesus Christ asked little children to come to him, he didn’t say only rich children, or White children, or children with two-parent families, or children who didn’t have a mental or physical handicap. He said, Let all children come unto me.”

“It really takes a community to raise children, no matter how much money one has. Nobody can do it well alone. And it’s the bedrock security of community that we and our children need.”

“Dr. King used to say, ‘I was sitting in the back of the bus, but my mind was always upfront.’ Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it. You aim high and you work very hard and now I think it’s clear that you can be anything you want to.”

“We’re spending, on average, three times more for prison than for public-school pupils. That’s the dumbest investment policy. It doesn’t make us safer.”

“You’d better stay determined because that’s how our ancestors got us where we are.”

“If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it. You have an obligation to change it. You just do it one step at a time.”

“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”

“We are not going to deal with the violence in our communities, our homes, and our nation, until we learn to deal with the basic ethic of how we resolve our disputes and to place an emphasis on peace in the way we relate to one another.”

“This act will leave a moral blot on his presidency”

“There are levels of outrage, and there’s a point at which you can’t be trespassed upon anymore.”

“If we think we have ours and don’t owe any time or money or effort to help those left behind, then we are a part of the problem rather than the solution to the fraying social fabric that threatens all Americans and the very dream that is America.”

“Understand and be confident that each of us can make a difference by caring and acting in small as well as big ways.”

“It is the responsibility of every adult… to make sure that children hear what we have learned from the lessons of life and to hear over and over that we love them and that they are not alone.”

“We do not have a money problem in America. We have a values and priorities problem.”

“You are in charge of your own attitude whatever others do or circumstances you face. The only person you can control is yourself… worry more about your attitude than your aptitude or lineage.”

“The outside world told black kids when I was growing up that we weren’t worth anything. But our parents said it wasn’t so, and our churches and our schoolteachers said it wasn’t so. They believed in us, and we, therefore, believed in ourselves.”

“I was taught that the world had a lot of problems; that I could struggle and change them; that intellectual and material gifts brought the privilege and responsibility of sharing with others less fortunate; and that service is the rent each of us pays for living – the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time or after you have reached your personal goals.”

“I feel very lucky to have grown up having interaction with adults who were making change but who were far from perfect beings. That feeling of not being paralyzed by your incredible inadequacy as a human being, which I feel every day, is a part of the legacy that I’ve gotten from so many of the adult elders.”

“Don’t assume a door is closed; push on it. Don’t assume if it was closed yesterday that it is closed today. Don’t ever stop learning and improving your mind. If you do, you’re going to be left behind.”

“Education is a precondition to survival in America today.”

“You’re not obligated to win. You’re obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day.”

“There should not be one new dime in tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires as long as millions of children in America are poor, hungry, uneducated and without health coverage.”

“You were born God’s original. Try not to become someone’s copy.”

“Be grateful for good breaks and kind favors but don’t count on them.”

“Why are guns the only unregulated consumer products in America? We regulate toy guns and teddy bears, but we do not regulate a product that kills 4,600 children a year.”

“Never work just for money or for power. They won’t save your soul or help you sleep at night.”

“In every seed of good there is always a piece of bad.”

“Education remains one of the black community’s most enduring values. It is sustained by the belief that freedom and education go hand in hand, that learning and training are essential to economic quality and independence.”

“The legacy I want to leave is a child-care system that says that no kid is going to be left alone or left unsafe.”

“There are so many noises and pulls and competing demands in our lives that many of us never find out who we are. Learn to be quiet enough to hear the sound of the genuine within yourself so that you can hear it in other people.”

“Each American must remember and help America remember that the fellowship of human beings is more important than the fellowship of race and class and gender in a democratic society.”

“You really can change the world if you care enough.”

“It is [children] who are God’s presence, promise and hope for mankind.”

“Parents have become so convinced that educators know what is best for their children that they forget that they themselves are really the experts.”

“Service is the rent we pay for living.”

“Whoever said anybody has a right to give up?”

“The civil-rights movement was completely impossible to achieve. But look at what ordinary people were able to do because they were willing to sacrifice their lives to stay with it. They didn’t expect a political process to respond to them. They made the political process respond to them. To say “It’s so bad I won’t bother” is to give up on your children and give up on your future.”

“No one, Eleanor Roosevelt said, can make you feel inferior without your consent. Never give it.”

ABOUT Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman, civil rights activist and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, has dedicated her life to those who cannot always lift themselves up. Edelman obtained a law degree at Yale and worked in Mississippi, becoming the first Black woman to be admitted to that state’s bar.

As a leader with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Edelman helped coordinate the Poor People’s Campaign after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. She founded the Children’s Defense Fund in the 1970s, to apply pressure on the federal government to help poor children and to coordinate nationwide activities to help children.

Considered the nation’s most powerful children’s lobby, CDF secured the 1990 Act for Better Child Care, bringing more than $3 billion into daycare facilities and other programs. Many consider this law the first federal government acknowledgment that children matter.

With millions of American children living in poverty, Edelman continues her advocacy, focusing on expanding Head Start, health care and support for homeless children. In l993 Edelman published her book, The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours. She is the recipient of many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Biography courtesy of The National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Family History: Archive Preservation

BurnettFamilyUS.org 🏛 We started digitizing our VHS movies and film photography slides in 2007 through Walmart. These clips are from a DVD that was the result.
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However, since DVD is a dead technology we are going to send all of these to iMemories (thanks Dr. Mary Jane Burnett) and have purely digital files created. Videos and photos will then be archived in the cloud and at our Ancestry portal for historical reference and posterity.
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These clips are from a 1992 trip to Washington DC our family took together. I had just returned to the USA 🇺🇸 after my assignment with the NATO Band in Italy 🇮🇹 and was on the Staff and Faculty of the Armed Forces School of Music. Terri Anderson Burnett was a tenured elementary school teacher.
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I was getting near the end of my active duty military career. So to keep from uprooting our family again I did both of these assignments by myself. T, our children (12 and 10 years old respectively) and my mother stayed at our home we’d built in Missouri.
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They did a great job holding down the fort. I am still so proud of them to this day. Military families have no choice but to be a team. And, objectively speaking, we were a great team during those years.
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Mom Burnett was excited about going to Washington DC. While sitting on the steps leading into the Lincoln Memorial she stated: “I never thought I would ever visit here in my lifetime!” But she did. That’s cool 😎 ❤️🇺🇸

Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett established their branch of The Burnett Family in March of 1979 at Copenhagen, Denmark. They are professional musicians, educators, and entrepreneurs based in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. 

Shoes Older Than You …

PHOTO: “First Haircut” – Me at age 2, our Barber, and our Dad taken by our Mom

One of the first mentoring sessions that I can remember having from my father included his deliberate efforts to “teach” me how to mow our lawn – certainly a basic and practical skill set that he knew would be useful to me in life. Along with most of the lessons inherently learned from both of my parents, I have subsequently used Cliff Burnett’s method of cutting grass at the various stages throughout my entire life. And with most always excellent results too, I must admit here in hindsight.

These skill set lessons were applicable to learning most anything and largely taught based upon his already having established prior successful experience accomplishing a particular task.

Often he would not say anything verbally to me. He would do the task as I watched, then I would repeat the task the same way that he had done it successfully. I later found out that this process was and still is common, and many people today still learn to do many things this way – particularly within my own Black American culture.

He and my mother divorced not long after I’d completed 9th grade so those lessons ended after that. I have often wished that my own progeny could have interacted with him too. Perhaps they would understand me better in addition to being better themselves from having the experience.

Clifford LeRoy Burnett was born on Sunday, July 5th in 1925 and was a World War II veteran (Navy Sea Bees) who later served in the US Air Force – Greatest Generation. He served just over 19 years on active duty and had reserve time between when his Navy service ended in 1945 and he reenlisted in the Air Force in the late 1950s. Dad used to proudly exclaim that he was “the seventh son of a seventh son.” Subsequently with the advent of Ancestry.com, our family tree validates that indeed he was “the seventh son of a seventh son.”

Dad was also genuinely enthusiastic about life despite growing up through the Great Depression, segregation, and military service during a world war. Although he was a man of relatively few words, he still was a positive person and encouraging most of the time that I can recall. He was a great athlete in his youth and although he was over 30 by the time I was born, Dad was still a fine athlete when I came of age to appreciate such things although he was in his 40s by then.

He only lost his temper with me once that I recall. I was a teenager. I wasn’t listening to his advice as much as I once did because I had begun to have my own ideas and experiences.

PHOTO: T and me at the VA CPAC after a presentation.

Dad was also coaching me to be a baseball pitcher during that period of our life together. I just knew that I was not a baseball pitcher. Dad was a great baseball pitcher in his youth.

I was a fast runner and better suited to be a baseball outfielder. I could throw pretty hard but never had the control to be a baseball pitcher. My younger brother Donnie was the baseball pitcher among us. I liked playing centerfield.

I was also a saxophone player and wanted to do that with my time more than anything else by then. And although Dad was proud of my musical pursuits and appreciated my dedication, he felt I should still be well rounded and developed in other areas too. He was right, of course.

PHOTO: The last wearing of my 20 year old Sketchers today.

I recall from one occasion that I questioned him as to why I had to stand a certain way and go through the specific motions he was teaching me in order to successfully throw the baseball into the old tire used as a target on the back of the old garage.

Dad said to trust him because he already knew doing it that way was most efficient. I debated the fact that I could already throw the ball all of the way from centerfield to home plate and hit the catcher’s mitt – high or low, wherever it was placed. Dad said that was a different skill.

He must have seen the doubt in my eyes. For the first time in my life I had debated something my father was teaching me. That’s not a bad thing, it’s a growing up thing. He just cocked his head.

PHOTO: My most comfortable and favorite pair of shoes for two decades.

Dad said, “okay do it your way and hit the strike zone target, then.” I threw from my normal stance and was not able to consistently throw strikes. I would have walked in a run, or two, or three, or four had I been pitching in a real game.

He must have seen the puzzled look on my teenaged face and yet, I still verbally protested the validity of my own way of throwing the ball out of ego and ignorance. Just like most kids would.

Dad silently shook his head in what seemed to be disgust, picked up the baseball and proceeded to throw strike after strike into the exact middle of the tire target. He threw the ball so hard that it bounced directly back to his mitt for the repeated throws. And I had never seen anyone in real life throw a baseball with the velocity with which he threw the ball. He always hit dead center.

PHOTO: My replacement loafers. Here’s to another 20 years, boys.

Dad could see that I was a bit shaken by such a display of power that I had never witnessed from him before in my life. He calmed me with his big grin and said to trust what he shared with me.

I learned a big lesson that day, as I usually did during my interactions with Dad. I told him as much and how impressed I was with what he had just done. He said for me not to be impressed.

He simply said, “Son, I have thrown lots of baseballs before just now. You have only thrown a few by comparison. I should be this good at it. You will get the same type of experience and practice at something. Just like I have shoes twice as old as you are that I still wear. Old is often good.”

He said if we keep trying, we all usually keep getting better with time.

PHOTO: Lake Erie Duets

Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett established their branch of The Burnett Family in March of 1979 at Copenhagen, Denmark. They are professional musicians, educators, and entrepreneurs based in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. 

Family and Friends: both can be both

Many people have come in and out of our life together as The Burnett Family, est. 1979.

Including our parents, siblings, children, and extended family members such as aunts, uncles, and cousins – the number of family members T and I are connected with biologically is legitimately still a very large one. We love them all despite how close we may or may not be on a day to day basis at any given moment.

Likewise is the number of true friends we’ve made over these years a very large group of individuals. There are many paradoxical sayings about the life family you are born with and the life family you grow into along the journey, (with variations ad infinitum) … These friends are indeed our family too.

We’ve come to conclude at this point in our life continuum that both can be both. That’s been lots of work learning this lesson and finally arriving here is definitely cool.

DIFFERENT TRIBES

Our living blood relatives have come in and out of our lives over the years for whatever the reasons. We have come to understand that this is a natural order in life. Relationships with siblings and children naturally change dynamically with individual growth and interests. Lifestyle choices and personal belief systems impact familial relationships and closeness.

18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”  20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

— Luke 15:18-20 (American Standard Bible)

We’ve learned there is no such thing as the static “perfect or dysfunctional” families that are too often depicted in popular media as cultural “norms.” All families are simultaneously dysfunctional and perfect. That’s cool too. We’ve also learned that in our desire to love our family as parents and grandparents of adult progeny that we must also care for our selves and our own empty nest family too. However, these are the types of lessons that most of us can’t truly learn until we actually reach this age.

MUSICIANS AND ARTIST CLASS

We have many lifelong and true friends made through the common bond of music. And many of those friendships have grown to be family-like in mutual commitment, being tested in strength over time, and genuine brotherly love for one another.

Musicians are our natural life community among fellow humans. Particularly those who play the types of instruments we do and the types of music we do were typically the “not cool” kids growing up. We’ve found that doesn’t change. That “not coolness” remains in adulthood, but we’ve been fortunate to find our “tribe” of like minds.

Military veterans are also our community to the extent of our mutual respect for voluntary service to the United States of America. We inherently share a common ethos and motivation to serve others. Considering how long we have been living autonomously, we’ve also found out that it’s “okay” if the people you share genetics and blood with, don’t like hanging out with you and doing the things you like to do.

We don’t always like what blood relatives like. We’ve often experienced this and it was uncomfortable to admit to ourselves at first. But, that doesn’t change the genuine love for them. Nor does it negate any love they may genuinely have for us as well. It’s life.

FAMILY + LIFE’S WORK

The Professional Musicians’ and Teaching Artists’ life is one of constant study, research, and growth that’s validated through public presentations and is preserved as permenant documents like printed publications and audio recordings. It’s a lifelong pursuit and lots of fun too. We have validated our long belief that professional musicians and teaching artists can engage family life in concert with being among the creative class. We continue to serve as living proof of this validated synergy at each stage of our journey.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

— 1 Corinthians 13:11 (King James Bible)

We started with a plan as a family and despite inherent challenges, have not varied too far from our original promise and commitment to each other as husband and wife when we formed The Burnett Family, est. 1979. Our parents are all gone now and it is only our generation and those who follow who remain. Just as our elders have become better understood, more wise, and insightful to us over the years, so will we to our progeny. Only time validates us.

YOUR LIFE: IT’S BIGGER THAN YOU

Only fools live for themselves and the single day. We have met and known many fools over the years. We were among the foolish at various stages of our lives. Such is life.

We have found it essential for us personally to live a life that is mostly of service to others and to our various communities. This life of service is based upon our own developed personal beliefs and Christian principles from our childhood upbringing.

Serving others makes you better. Serving others completes your own goals to levels that you alone could not imagine or achieve.

We have lived to see the tangible validation of this philosophy and credo over two professional music careers (serving with military bands for 22+ years and currently serving the at-large music industry for 26+ years and counting).

BURNETT MUSIC FOUNDATION

Burnett Music Foundation purposely began in phases by creating four Jazz music centered businesses as its core programs over the last 15 years. At the heart of all BMF programming is the inherent synergy of building community, building educational opportunity, and building arts infrastructure in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

See our work:

o Artists Recording Collective – ARC Recording Label (https://ArtistsRecordingCollective.biz)

o Bird Boot Camp (https://BirdBootCamp.org)

o Jazz Artistry Now (https://JazzArtistryNow.com)

o Kansas City Area Youth Jazz (https://YouthJazz.us)

Tax Deductible Contributions: We are a Tax Exempt Organization under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501 (c) (3). Donors can deduct contributions they make to us under IRC Section 170. We’re also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under Section 2055, 2106, or 2522.

Get involved! 

Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett established their branch of The Burnett Family in March of 1979 at Copenhagen, Denmark. They are professional musicians based in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. 

Visit BurnettMusic.biz for more information.

Musings in Cb: MOTHER BURNETT WORDS OF WISDOM (part 1)

Like most people, I have found my parents to have gotten “smarter” along with my own age and ultimately as my adult life experiences increased.

Amazing how that works, huh?

When your parents drop knowledge on you it is often well ahead of when you need or truly understand it.

Here’s one from our late mother, Vi Burnett.

I was in my middle forties when she laid this one on me and am now just truly appreciating what she said more fully because I have used it recently — but I can’t claim it as my own original thought:

“You can’t blame other people for your adult life not being what you want it to be, not even your parents. No, I guess you can but it’s not rational.”

— Vi Burnett, 1924-2012, BurnettFamilyUS.org

Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett established their branch of The Burnett Family in March of 1979 at Copenhagen, Denmark. They are professional musicians based in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. 

Visit BurnettMusic.biz for more information.

The story behind the song …

“WHENEVER WE CRY”

Listen

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.

He said:

“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.

~ Cb


LYRIC

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

But whenever we cry

Angels sing

~ Christopher Burnett (BMI)

Music Producers and Recording Artists

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.

PHOTO: A ‘selfie’ we took after finishing our musical performance with the special ensemble backing the Choir from Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts for Teach For America Kansas City at the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts.

The Latest Recording Project

Our latest recording project will be produced and released commercially on the ARC label. 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

Ansbach, Germany (Stadtmitte)

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.