Connections to the famous … I have a few. My first claim to fame was growing up in Seymour, Indiana – the “small town” John “Cougar” Mellencamp grew up in. My dad was John’s basketball coach in junior high.
When I got to college, I was in a class with IU basketball star Steve Alford (and it was a fairly small class of about 30; not a big lecture). I still remember my 10-year-old sister giving me her Mickey Mouse autograph book and begging me to get his autograph – I did, and was very embarrassed to ask, although he was really nice about it.
Other brushes with fame came from IU’s renowned music school. I had previously been to the music school each year for piano contest, and to this day I can’t walk through the building without getting a stomachache.
My major way of financing my college education was by playing piano for various students’ voice lessons. They needed an accompanist and I needed cash = perfect! And, what an education I got. I especially learned a lot when I got to play in the studios of the bigwig voice professors, most of whom were or had been famous in the opera world. Most had studios full of posters featuring them starring in this or that opera in Europe – it was truly another world from Seymour.
I remember once playing for a student, and the famous professor then said to me, “Miss, can you cut an apple?” I answered yes. He then said, “Then will you please cut up this apple for me and I will play this?!” (I guess the point was that my playing was not passionate enough; yeah, he was probably right. As I recall, he went on to miss a horrendous amount of notes, but his playing did have a certain panache …).
Most students I played for didn’t study with “the greats” though, so I spent a lot of time in associate instructor (“AI”)s’ studios. AIs were usually graduate music students. One I got to see quite often I dubbed “the gay AI,” and he was certainly “out ‘n proud.” I remember him once breaking into song in an impromptu variation on “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” but he changed it to “I’m always chasing gay boys …” Ah, the memories …
One AI I worked with quite a bit was Elizabeth Futral. She was very nice and approachable; she had gone to undergrad school in Alabama, and I remember her showing me a bag she had that her boyfriend’s mother had made: it had a cross-stitch picture saying “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings …” – perfect for an opera-singing girl.
Anyway, it came to my attention recently that Elizabeth has become quite famous! How cool is that? (And just for the record, she looked far less sophisticated back in the day!)
Sophomore year, Shakespeare class (an awesome class, by the way): I made friends with another girl and we frequently walked to one or the other’s dorm after class to eat lunch together. We must have been mentioning music one day when she said that she was majoring in violin – and not only that; she had made professional recordings with her dad and siblings. Yes, it was yet another acquaintance who would go on to bigger things.
Have you had some brushes with fame? Share them …