Music Heals

Here is a post that I thought I had entered last year, but I did not.  I have updated it as things in my life have changed.  Enjoy, LDS

MUSIC HEALS

September 2015 I flew to NYC to visit friends and to see a concert by a man I never knew much about, or focused on over the years, Bruce Sudano.  I was enamored of his wife Donna Summer who, when I was a teenager, flourished as a award winning singer/songwriter and musical icon.  After his wife passed on in 2012, I was devastated, but I was also happy to discover that most of Donna’s  immediate and extended family all have creative artistic talents, including Bruce Sudano who is an accomplished award-winning songwriter/singer just like his wife was.  And, Donna’s three daughters and grandchildren all exhibit creative talents, singing, acting, crafts, etc.  While the internet can sometimes seem very intrusive, one must be careful what one puts online, I was happy to have discovered countless pictures and videos online of Donna and her somewhat private family.

I never saw Donna in concert, something I deeply regret.  But, in September I decided to attend her husband Bruce’s record release event to support his current album, The Burbank Sessions.  (Here is my iTunes review – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-burbank-sessions/id1034595908).  I am no music critic, keep that in mind.

bcs ticket joesubThe story of what happened at the venue where Bruce performed, Joe’s Pub, is kind of funny to me, so I will share it here.  I purchased my ticket beforehand, picked it up at “will call.”  When I arrived inside the club the table I was assigned to was occupied by a couple of people including three gentlemen who were friends.   Tickets were ordered per seat and tables were communal.  I was alone, therefore, I ended up sitting with strangers.

The hostess showed me to my table, but she was upset that some other people were seated there.  The men politely  assured the hostess they had purchased their tickets, but she was very strong and assured them they were mistakenly seated at MY table.  I had to tell her, “Hey, I only have one ticket.”  I was very embarrassed, I am not a fan of confrontation.  The dust cleared and I sat down and apologized to the gentlemen one of whom was Bruce’s brother Barry, a very friendly and talkative man and a bit of a character.

IMG_2724LD and Barry Sudano 9/9/2015

Of course I prattled on and told Barry how upset I was when his sister-n-law passed and I talked about my mom who was then still alive, but very ill.  We spoke only slightly about Donna, but I believe my delivery must have seemed sad to Barry because when his brother’s concert was nearly over Barry asked me if he could pray with me.  Now, besides the fact that I am Catholic, although non-practicing, I normally don’t let strangers lay their hands on me, but…. 

Barry gently placed his hand on my shoulder and he prayed on me, or for me.  I later learned Barry and Bruce have another brother, Father Glenn Sudano.  Perhaps Barry was channeling his brother who did not make the event.  Actually, I did fly back home safely, so perhaps Barry’s prayers work!  I’m being silly here, but in all honesty, I appreciated Barry’s sincere offering.  I also think Barry is genuinely kind and supportive, he proved that by cheering on his brother loudly and often during Bruce’s set.  Barry applauded his beloved brother with a honest heart.  It was a sweet thing to experience.  It is obvious to me that Barry loves his family as does Bruce which is commendable.  I see what Donna saw in the Sudanos.   

Bruce’s set was very well done, very revealing and beautiful, sad in spots for me, but entertaining to say the least.  Bruce is more talented then I knew especially as a writer, he has great command of words and emotion behind them.  Bruce Sudano is successfully re-emerging as an artist and he reminds those of us who did not know him that he is in fact, alive, kickin’, writing, singing and performing.  I personally respect Bruce for being faithful to his family, his wife and kids and to himself.  I respect that he believes in his faith so strongly that he continues to move forward and flourish.  I struggle with faith everyday, if I get a hangnail I literally run screaming for Jesus like someone stole my purse!  (I say this about myself often).   Listening to Bruce’s music makes me want to try harder to be more faithful and positive.  Cheers to Bruce, Barry and their families.

* * * * * * * * *

Life is ever revolving, it does not care that humans are not always ready for “movement.”  Life moves and we must move, quickly and firmly.  We must keep going until it is our time to go like my beloved mother and my biological father.  (photo taken of my parents 1996 at my college graduation).  My father’s older sister and my favorite aunt whom I called “Auntie”  passed on in late February 2016.  (below photo of me and Auntie at her flat in San Francisco I believe in 1961 or 1962).  My world is not getting smaller, it, in my mind, is making room for the latter half of my life to begin.

parents at my graduation edit

Doris Banbury (1930-2015 ) and Clyde Lee Sargent (1930-2014)

me and Auntie_edited-5

Annie Lee  Sargent-Campbell (1928-2016)

And in my latter life I will always believe that music heals and it helps people to move forward.  I enjoy and respect artists who not only exhibit their talents, but they share their lives of pain in song.  It is encouraging how the music plays out and how the artists’ words resonate a bit of hope for me and for that I am grateful.  Cheers!  LDS

IMG_2693Joes pub with B Sudano 9-9-15LD with Bruce Sudano 9/9/15

Here is the link to Bruce’s concert footage at Joe’s Pub, NYC.  Bruce shares the cool story of the origins of the Multi-platinum song “Bad Girls,” written by Donna, Bruce and his Brooklyn Dreams band mates Joe Esposito and Eddie Hokenson.  What’s Cher got to do with the “Bad Girls” song? Find out at 36:29 on the Joe’s Pub video.

https://youtu.be/PQlACKKazYg

Yours very truly, Doris Banbury

Mom in the 80sDoris Banbury, 1980’s

I moved to Los Angeles when I was in my early 20’s, I felt I needed to break away from my mothers’ apron strings.  I originally wanted to go to NYC, but I was scared away by my native New Yorker mother Doris who often told me horror stories about the people, the weather, the “harsh living conditions.”

I lied to my mother so that I could move to Los Angeles.  I told her I had an audition for the touring production of Dreamgirls.  I had studied at American Conservatory Theater, fancied being a sitcom actress. I left San Francisco two years after Dreamgirls opened on Broadway in 1983.  I had no idea how hard it was to break into “show business.”

mom's letetrsDoris often phoned and we wrote letters to each other, well she typed and I saved them all.  Doris tried in her way to encourage me and she often sent me money when I was struggling.  Sometimes Doris, who was pretty much Velcroed to me and my younger brother David, but mainly to me, she would phone me after she saw something disturbing on the news.  She’d say, “You know I heard a woman was killed in…”  “mom, if I’m talking to you on the phone I’m not dead, right?”  “Well, of course you’re not dead, I was just calling to see how you’re doing!”

What was funny about Doris was that she often “signed off” on  her letters in quirky ways.  Sometimes she’d sign, “Love, Mom Terrific.”  Or, she’d sign, “Love Doris, mom.”  Once, and I can’t find that letter, she signed, “yours very truly, Doris Banbury.”  I teased her about it, “mom, you’re a Mcgillicuddy.”  “A what?”  “Remember Lucy Ricardo’s mother Mrs. Mcgillicuddy?  Remember how quirky she was?  I think that’s you.  I mean, why would you sign your name?  I’m your daughter, I know your name.”  “Well, I was a secretary for many years, wasn’t I?  I was a 1426 Sr. Clerk Typist, you see, and I had to sign my name, so I got used to doing it, that’s all.  No big deal!”

I stayed in Los Angeles for about 7 years and eventually came back home feeling defeated, sad, depressed and alone.  Lost my job, got evicted, etc.  Doris was kind at first, she even waited for me at the bus stop by our house when I came home.  But as soon as I set my things in my room and lay on the couch in the embryo position in the living room wondering what the hell happened to my life Doris chimed in with her motherly words of wisdom, her no-nonsense New York mentality and that “smart-ass” sense of humor I inherited from her.

Me:  “Mother, I just…I don’t know what happened.  I tried to make it as an actress, I failed.  I tried writing plays and I had a couple of shows, but nothing much came of it.” 

Doris:  “You lost your job, got evicted and your idiot fiancé hit you when you broke off the engagement.  Yet, you’re still standing, that has to mean something.”

Me:  “I just don’t understand what happened to me.  I just want to lay here and have a nervous breakdown, I don’t know what to do.”

Doris:  “Oh, I know, you had it hard, I know!  (mom said clutching her eye glass chain)  Meanwhile, by 1963 I was a single mother of two children by two different men, both who did not want to have anything to do with me or my kids.  That was at a time when having children without a husband was not cool.  What did I do?  I managed to take care of all of us with one paycheck.”

Me:   “Mom, I’m serious, I’m in real pain here!”

Doris:  “Oh, I know you are, my dear, I’ve got a pot on for some tea.  Did I tell you your brother was supposed to be a tumor?”

Me:  ~heavy sigh~ “Mom, c’mon.”

Doris:  “You see I did not know I was pregnant, well I didn’t know with you either, although I think with you the condom broke.  Anyway, with your brother, well I was six months pregnant and I developed a horrible pain in my stomach.  Anyway, I went to the doctor and was on the examining table when the doctor said, ‘you might have a tumor.’  Then when he left the room David started to crown butt first I believe.  Before you know it, I had a premature 3-pound baby boy that I went on welfare for the first three years of his life to support.  Well, I also had the help of the March of Dimes, God bless them.”

Me:  (defeated).  “I can’t…I can’t go on, ma, I’m serious.  I feel like such a failure.”

Doris:  “I didn’t raise you to fail, first of all.  Second, you can’t fail if you’re still living, Lorrie.  But, I can imagine how hard you had it in Los Angeles, poor baby.  Did I tell you when you were three years old I almost went to jail for writing a bad check at the grocery store?  David hadn’t been born yet, but I was humiliated, let me tell you! Thankfully and with the grace of God, the manager felt sorry for me and bought my bag of groceries.  I still tear up when I think about that.  Wonder whatever happened to that woman?”

Me:  “MOTHER I’M TALKING ABOUT MEEEEEE!!!”

Doris:  “I will kindly ask you to stop yelling at your mother, God you’re such a drama queen.  Look, it’s simple, you have two choices, work or school.  Or both!  That’s what you WILL do because you are in a country that gives black folks opportunities, unlike our ancestors before us, remember them?  Wow, what THEY went through!  (shook her head)  Big deal you didn’t make it as an actress, who cares?  You still have to live, you’re young, you’ll get a good job, you’ll find a good man, one who won’t hit you.  But, in the meantime while you’re under your mother’s roof, work…school…or both.  Those are your choices right now.  Oh, the tea’s ready!”

And with that stated Doris jumped up from the couch and scurried to the kitchen to turn off the screaming pot of water on the stove.  My mini break down was over.

There is so much to relay about Doris Banbury, a child of a British Canadian mother and Jamaican father who divorced when Doris was four years old.  But, I cannot possibly put it all into a blog.   What I will always remember about my mother Doris, however, is her funny sense of humor, her loving protective attention to her children whom she singlehandedly raised to a positive fruition, and her love for photography; she studied the works of Immogen Cunningham, Ansel Adams and Gordon Parks.

2 year old mom PIX 3

Glam Doris PIX 17

Diva mom PIX20????????????????????????????????????What will never leave me, including watching my mother pass away and be buried, is her telling me about herself, what little she offered.  What stuck with me; the stories she often told me about visiting the Bronx Zoo and telling her troubles to an aging Lion named King, she was about 8 years old at the time.  Years later when Dementia and Parkinson’s diseases set in, Doris told me she had been brutalized by her “godfather” for nearly a decade.  Never knew mom was a rape survivor.  Although, when we were kids and begged mom to give us a daddy she, and I swear this is true, she would flail her arms and scream, “NO, YOU’ll BE RAPED!”  

I understood why Doris made me promise that when she died I was to bury her with her mother Gladys who resides in a cemetery near White Plains NY.  Mom made all the arrangements for her mother and kept the receipts.  Doris’ beloved mother Gladys Peryl, my grandmother whom I never met, seemed a strong, determined and sweet and attentive mother to her sensitive child.  Gladys actually took Doris in the 1940s to abort the violators child, Doris was a young teen at that time, maybe 13 years old.  And a couple of years later when the violator was in the hospital on his death bed Gladys took Doris to get a verbal apology from him which he generously offered.  I understood why Doris adored Gladys, she often spoke highly of her.

I adored Doris, but in my own way.  While I was not overly affectionate I liked that she saw strength in me and perhaps determination when I did not see it in myself.  What I will remember of Doris is her kindness, her deeply-rooted vulnerability, her insecurities, of course her humor and her strength and love as a mother; she SHOWED my brother and me love, we rarely said “I love you.”  But, Doris attended every single freaking school recital, she was ALWAYS down in front with her camera to take a flash shot…always a FLASH shot!!!  Blinded the hell out of me, but that was Doris.  She kept all our school pictures and our report cards.

Doris showed encouragement and love rather than talk about it.  For that I am grateful. I am also grateful that I caught her last breath as I watched her pass away.  It was a most odd experience, but one I truly believe was meant to happen between mother and daughter.  And when they lowered her coffin into the ground a couple of weeks later, of course humor set in, the guy removed the strap too soon and mom tilted down head first into the earth.  At least the flowers that my brother bought for me to place onto the coffin remained. I am grateful for that as well.

As I write this I am listening to one of mom’s many CDs, mostly of “world” music, Cesaria Evora.  Mom loved good music and reading, she was a voracious reader.  At last count my brother who stored mom’s books, found about 390…so far.

Doris’ major true love besides music and books and of course her mother Gladys, was photography.  Doris loved to photograph animals, architecture, people.  When she was in her 20s Doris took celebrity photos in NYC, some of which I exhibited a few years ago.  In 2010 a select few of Doris’ celebrity photos were featured in a SF MOMA exhibit and were purchased by SF MOMA for their permanent photography collection.  Here is the museum link. 

(https://www.sfmoma.org/artist/Doris_Banbury

DSC02132Doris Banbury in front of a display showcasing three of her celebrity photos from 1950s that were featured in the exhibit: Exposed, by Sandra Phillips, SF MOMA.  Photo: Opening Night, 10-27-2010

moms exhibit 4 by Pudn her later years Doris enjoyed photographing lions and tigers, she loved going to the San Francisco Zoo.  And she loved photographing landscapes, San Francisco murals and her two grandchildren, Belinda May (L) and Denise Elizabeth (R).  Denise is my brother’s first born whom he named after me, Lorrie Denise.  moms birds moms ships, landscape, grandkids moms tigersMom and camera 1990s PIX 32

“Rest now, my dear.”

moms dressmom in coffinSunrise: 12-7-1930     Sunset:  12-27-2015     

coffin Earth:  1-8-2016

“Life moves forward, so shall we.”  Lorrie Denise Sargent, 2016

“Viewing” photo courtesy of David Banbury (SFMTA), Doris’ son;  SF MOMA photo of Doris courtesy of Denise Banbury, Doris’ granddaughter

Thank you for reading my most personal blog. LDS