It Was Her

It Was Her (1,123)

April 21st, 2011

Thirty years ago.

I was holding a makeshift press party in Shreveport, Louisiana, for a production of my musical, Mountain—the Sermon on the Mount set to music. I was teaching at a small Christian college and she walked in the door. It was the first time I had ever met her.

She was the principal oboist for the Shreveport Symphony and somebody had invited her out to this event and apparently her life was vacant enough of activity that she decided to pursue the unknown. I didn’t really talk to her that night, but heard later from a friend that my music reminded her of Mozart. I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but it sounded better than “it sucked.”

Shortly thereafter she began attending a small fellowship of mine in the community and we worked on a few projects together before I took off with my family and went on the road. The friendship remained. It was casual and intermittent but over the next twelve years we stayed in contact. She got married, had babies and continued to toot her horn.

Our next major interaction came in 1996 when she decided she needed to leave an abusive relationship and take her children away from some danger. Dollie and I decided to welcome them into our family.

I am sharing this with you because today is her birthday. She is fifty-eight years old and not pretentious enough to think that means she’s getting old. Because getting old is not the accumulation of years, but whether or not you use that heaping of birthdays as a badge of honor or a reason to begin to retire. She is not retiring.

When she joined up with me, we immediately started traveling on the road. She helped me write twelve symphonies. She has been there to aid me in typing, editing and putting together eleven books. She joined me as a scribe as I dictated seventeen screenplays, and she watched as thirteen movies emerged from that effort.

She wrote music for those movies. She has transformed her experience of playing oboe into becoming a consummate artist, dazzling audiences all across the country with music that is superb technically but also anointed spiritually. She didn’t miss a beat as she picked up another horn called the WX-5 Wind Machine and mastered it, mesmerizing folks from coast to coast.

She began an orchestra in a community in Tennessee that defined class as “buying a red shiny ball for bowling.” She conducted that orchestra through concert after concert and for the first time in the community of Hendersonville, she and the Sumner County Symphony performed live outdoors at the July 4th celebration in front of thousands of people.

Simultaneously, she rescued her three children from a vicious custody battle and raised them up to be fine young men.

All the time, she continued traveling with me, performing in front of audiences that somehow felt it was their duty to discern more than enjoy and critique more than embrace. She never complained.

She is my friend. People will occasionally raise their eyebrows and ask the nature of our relationship—because some folks have built a home near the gutter and then wonder why their abode is surrounded by trash. The nature of our relationship is simple—we work together. We create. We laugh. We make fun of things that need to be made fun of. We hug folks that need a good hug. We enjoy many of the same things. We have stood together in front of tens of thousands of students ranging from elementary through high school and shared music and programs about brotherhood, diversity and kindness. We have all the benefits of any great relationship without the worries of needing to be jealous of one another.

Her name is Janet Clazzy. She was born Janet McKinney, became Janet Scott, but when we began to birth music together, we decided to call the style “clazzy,” so she adopted the name. She is my dear, dear acquaintance, comrade and everlasting muse.

And by the way—she is the one who types this jonathots every day as I dictate it. That’s three years and running.

So I salute her today. You won’t see her on the Tonight Show. She won’t be receiving too many awards from the Daughters of the American Revolution. But she is an American hero. She is the person I have been blessed to work with, travel with, perform with, argue with, struggle with, budget with and enjoy.

She is my friend—and I wanted you to know about her today.

I know that many of you enjoy jonathots every day, but you might want to send a greeting her way for her contribution to this project. Her name is Janet. She is fifty-eight years old.

And she is my friend.

Published in: on April 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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