I come from a line of musicians. Both my parents played guitar, as does my brother, and my mom’s dad also used to play. Family reunions were designed around a custom-built, Bible-themed stage (think Coat of Many Colors) Grandpa built, where family members were encouraged to step up to the mic, plug in a guitar or tap out a tune on the keys. Music was part of the celebration, and everyone’s talent, no matter how fledgling, was celebrated. Often, one person was too shy to go up alone, but when a cousin or aunt said, you can do this, or, I’ll go up with you, it provided just enough courage to step onto the stage.
These memories have outlasted the days of the big reunions, but even though we no longer gather around a stage, we all carry the memory of Grandpa and Uncle Jim playing that one song on their dueling electric guitars, the one they played every year on that stage, as well as every Christmas and Easter and any other occasion where there happened to be an audience. That song, which for me remains nameless, has become part of the soundtrack of my life, playing randomly through my mind as I was dishes, or try to fall asleep at night.
Grandpa can no longer play guitar, but the legacy of his love for music carries on. I think this is one reason why the #SongwriterChallenge captured my imagination — it is a digital stage where people can gather ’round and celebrate the musical talents of those who are brave enough to step into the spotlight. And just like the family reunion stage, sometimes it takes another member of the family to say, hey, you should get up there and play something, and, I’ll go with you.