By: Shannon Boatwright
It’s a beautiful, fabulous, fascinating thing…
I grew up witnessing and hearing the incredible talents of my mother. For me, it was a common occurrence, “no big thang,” to hear my Mama tear it up on the piano, to watch her teach others, and to witness others being brought to their feet in standing ovations or even brought to tears as a result of her brilliance.
My whole life, from this woman’s womb to the present, I have enjoyed listening to her create beautiful music at a piano, organ or keyboard. Growing up, it was pretty much a weekly event to attend performances, whether at a church, theater, studio, or another setting, where I could watch my mother grace others with her talent. As a child, I also witnessed her teaching and inspiring others every week. I would come home from school and have specific responsibilities because my Mama was busy teaching piano from our home in the afternoons and sometimes into the evenings. She always had a studio space of some sort, no matter where we lived, to teach others the amazing art of music. I was consistently exposed to teaching, learning and music. And when my mother was not creating or teaching music herself, the music of other greats always filled our home.
It was inevitable that I became a lover of music. And I guess it’s no surprise that I’m a teacher of the Arts and have such a passion and appreciation for the Arts.
I have to admit, I’m ashamed to say that I do not play the piano. I could’ve. I should’ve. I did for a bit in my youth. I had the knack, it was there in my fingers, in my blood in a sense…but, to be brutally honest, I knew there was no way I could ever be as good as my mother. And that deterred me, which is a total shame. People used to say, “I bet you play as well as your Mother!” The pressure was fierce. People assumed that just because I was her offspring, that meant that I could bring magic to the keys like my mother did. Not so. Possibly could’ve been so. When I was a pre-teen, I actually got good enough to play duets with my mother and it felt amazing. I was proud of my work and the difficult piano pieces I was able to help bring to life. But the more I played, the more people made comments that made me feel the immense pressure to be as good as my mother. Most unfortunately, that resulted in me quitting the piano.
My focus became anything and everything BUT the piano. And my precious mother never forced me. She even paid for piano lessons for me with a different teacher. (Which I very quickly realized was a waste of money, because no one was as good a teacher as my Mama.) As I got older and realized even more that there was indeed a talent within me, I asked her, “Why didn’t you just MAKE me take lessons from you!!!?? I could be so great now!” Her lovely response was that she didn’t want me to resent her and turn my back on music.
Flash forward to the present day and I can say I certainly did not turn my back on music. In fact, music has been and is an enormous inspiration in everything that I do. I went through almost EVERY musical instrument and my defensive response to people eventually became, “Oh, I don’t play piano. I’m a dancer, a singer, an actress!” My strengths in the performing arts grew and I’m very thankful for all the experiences that my talents have led me to thus far.
I grew up with one of the greatest mentors I could ask for and I didn’t even know it. I love to see entertainment come to life and bring joy to others. I have a producers’ heart, a passion for directing and producing that is equal to performing. I owe that passion to witnessing my mother always hard at work, not only creating beautiful music, but creating beautiful events and performances, entertaining and inspiring both audiences and students.
My mother is not only a performer, but has taught music for over 40 years. And I had the honor of growing up witnessing her in action on every level, from one-on-one lessons, to group workshops, to producing and directing full-scale productions. A teacher’s heart was born in me as I watched my mother in action. As I witnessed her own proud heart swell at the accomplishments of her students, as I watched student after student reach levels of success due to her unique teaching skills and range of talents. It seems it was a natural step for me to add teacher to my resume. After watching her over all these years, I developed a love for teaching and inspiring others. And what a blessing that has been!
My mother is not just an accompanist. She is a force. She is a brilliant star that shines with many talents, and she never ceases to amaze me. The video here is from just a few weeks ago at the close of 2015. If you take the time to watch the whole video, you’ll experience a small taste of one of the many talents my precious mother possesses. This particular performance brought people to their feet in a standing ovation. It brought tears to my eyes and filled my heart in ways that I cannot express with words.
There is a quote that says, “music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.” I truly believe that music ignites the heart, gives wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. And my mother’s performance did just that for me. It was a beautiful reminder of the power of such a gift and the importance of sharing it with others.
My mother is drawn to the piano like a moth to a flame, but her dedication is awe-inspiring. She is the ultimate professional. Her talent really is a priceless gift; a gift that she earns with hours upon hours of hard work practicing, perfecting, and giving her all so that she can inspire and bring joy to others. For that, I am ever-grateful, ever-proud, ever-thankful. In my adulthood, I recognize, celebrate, honor and share my mother’s passions. In my eyes, she will forever be a brilliant star.