Annette was an adorable child, one who answered to several names. Her mother called her Annie, her beloved grandmother called her Nettie and her father called her Net-Net. The children in her neighborhood, well, they called her by her given name. Annette was a a serious child. who often sat on the front steps of her porch and watched life going by. At dinner she would ask questions that were far about her age level. Her questions never went unanswered, instead, they usually created discussions in which everyone at the table was happy to participate.
Every now and then Annette had so many questions, they all ran together and she would say things like, “Why does Mrs. Windsap always look as if she has been crying? Why does Thomas alway quit playing games when he isn’t winning? What does Mr. Jacobs have in the bottle he carries in his pocket? How did Sunny get measles? Why does Toby, the terrier, have fleas? Why does Mr. Marts laugh when Miss Kathy is around? How far is it to the moon? Can I walk to china? How did grandma get her name?”
Eventually someone would stop her and start answering her questions, one at a time. If Annette wasn’t satisfied with the answers she received, she simply asked more questions.
Her mother, a fifth grade teacher, was thrilled with Annett’s never ending curiosity and so was her grandmother, the high school’s principal.
Annette’s father managed a bank in the business district and played drums at night with the “guys” he grew up with. “The guys” played in local clubs and practiced at Annette’s house. That’s how everyone found out that Annette could sing. She often sat by her father when the “guys” were rehearsing, and one night, when they eased into Stormy Weather, Annette stood up and sang her heart out. Her father was stunned. The “guys” were stunned. Annette didn’t know what the fuss was about but her voice was amazing and from that moment on, she sang with the “guys,” every time they practiced. Her father once asked her where her voice came from and Annette said, “I don’t know daddy, it’s just inside of me.” Her father smiled and said that she was more talented than he was, then they both laughed and he answered some more of her questions.
As Annette grew older she developed an interest in sociology. She also started singing with the “guys,” at some of their gigs. She loved school and she loved singing. Her life was perfect and everyone was happy. She graduated with a Master’s in Sociology and began doing her own research, picking up where her thesis left off.
She also continued to sing, her raspy voice hypnotizing audiences, making them feel the music, the pain and the joy. People flocked to clubs just to hear her tease out every note, pulling the sound from her very soul. Under the lights she became someone else, someone who understood what the music was saying, what it was. Record offers came in. Records were made. She continued with her research, but music was taking over her heart. Then, on dark and dreary night, singing to a full house, Annette embraced her talent and fell in love with the night, the sound of the saxophone and the feel of the microphone in her hands. She fell in love with the murmurs of the people sitting in the dark, in front of her and with the smokey haze that enveloped her. People loved her. She could make them feel anything. She could tear them apart and build them back up, because her voice was magic and she embraced the spell that it cast over everyone who listened to her sing.
Annette never married. She had several serious relationships but she was in love with the magic and there wasn’t room for anything or anyone else.
Annette crossed over at the age of ninety-seven. She lived a long and happy life. Once she was famous, she opened a music school and personally helped each child find her/his own magic. Not every one was able to find that spark, of course, but Annette led those children in new directions. She introduced them to the magic of writing lyrics, recording and recognizing the magic in others. Throughout her life, Stormy Weather remained her favorite song. She said that it reminded her of her father and the first night she sang in front of the “guys.” She sang it often, full out, with nothing held back, which was the way she lived her life.
After her death, a celebration of her life was held at the school. Students past and present attended, telling their personal stories and singing Storm Weather, in three part harmony. Annette understood people, she understood life. She knew that magic was real and that everyone had it. She lived in a way that brought that magic to the surface, for others to enjoy. She was a woman who gave to joy others. Every time I hear that song, I think of Annette, microphone in her hand, breaking the hearts of her audience and showing them just how real magic can be.