For most of my adult life, I have believed that an essential key to living is ending with the most experiences. As a result, I am the faithful “Jack of all trades and master of little.” While a few loyalists might debate my accomplishments.

The oldest of eight children born to a single mom, the journey has not been without its challenges. Without going into great detail (I’ll leave that for the book), my mother, escaping from an abusive marriage, a man who was my stepfather, was always on the move.

I will never forget that bitterly cold November day when we moved into the brand-new Rockwell Gardens housing project on Chicago’s west side. As I sat huddled with my siblings while Mama attended to the paperwork to get the keys, the Sisters of Charity served us warm cocoa and cookies, and I remember feeling safe and praying nothing would happen to ruin the opportunity for a new life.

I was twelve, and caring for my younger siblings, the oldest eight years my junior, became my job. Considered by most of my playmates just weird because I always came with a bunch of kids in tow, I began to hang out with their parents, who, empathetic to my adult-like obligations, took me under their wings. And while I was a part of the subculture of the time, I was never pulled in completely. I credit this solely to my maternal grandparents, devout, no-nonsense missionaries who raised me from birth to age seven. Their teaching gave me a strong foundation for who and what I was and a sense of right and wrong, which enabled me to get by physically, if not emotionally.

My grandmother played the piano, and although she never taught me piano, she did teach me to sing standard hymns; I loved to sing. When I was fourteen, I got an audition for the Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour, America’s Got Talent of the day. Possibly seeing her way out of the ghetto was the first time I remember my mother showing interest in my singing; she spent her last money getting my hair done and buying me a new dress for the occasion. As the heavens opened with a severe thunderstorm that day, she delivered me to CBS Studios on Chicago’s north side by taxi. That trip may have been the first time I was in a cab. Unfortunately, it would be all for naught because, at the audition, severe stage fright caused only the strangest glottal sounds to emit from my tender throat. Going home, the sound in my head was no longer caused by the now calmed storm but rather the thundering silence I riding next to my mother on the bus home. While listening to Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn, Nat Cole, and, oh yes, Nancy Wilson, singing along with them to the radio, it would be many years before I got the nerve to sing again publicly.

By the tender age of twenty-two, I had served a stint in the Marine Corps, married and divorced with a young son, and faced an uncertain yet predictable future had I remained in Chicago. Fortunately, that was not to be. Instead, encouraged by family, in January 1970, I relocated to Fresno, California. This little-known place by many not from the area in California’s Central Valley would be my training ground for what was to come.

San Francisco, open your Golden Gates—

In mid-1970, this time, for very different reasons, I again relocated. Remarrying and eventually making a thirty-eight-year career in government, I spent an equal amount of time as a pop/jazz singer, future songwriter, and composer, singing on the San Francisco Bay Area hotel and country club circuits throughout the mid-1970s through the early 1990s. Sadly, that marriage also failed, and in 1997, I relocated to Sacramento. Retiring from public service in 2007, I published my first novel, Of Noble Character, in 2012 and completed a 30,000-word 2nd edition in late 2020. Also, in 2012, I released a CD called “No Apologies.”

In September 2016, I founded the Sacramento Jazz Cooperative, a charitable benefit nonprofit dedicated to preserving classic jazz as the proper American art form. I soon recorded my second CD, Reflections, a compilation of songs whose purpose is mainly to evoke imagery from listeners of those experiences in the past that even now cause us to ponder…what if?

In April of 2021, I made another milestone move to the Savannah, Georgia region, where my grandparents, as it turns out, were born on both sides.

In the fourth quarter of my life, that is where you win the game; you know, I spend my time enjoying Savannah’s remarkable history and my own, causing me to write, after several years of research, my third book, Lark’s Flight-a journey home, a historical autobiography, and accept all challenges by my mini-Poodle, Cooper.

While music will always be a part of my life in some way, I take it as I find it, understanding that it is no longer the focus of my life, and I am grateful for having options. Life is good.