It’s That Time of Year To Take Inventory . . .

In the Headlines

Not ready yet to leave the Christmas celebrations that honored the birth of Christ?  Me, too!  Yet, I am being rudely pushed to look back on the major stories and the deaths around the world in the headlines of 2016 before bidding it farewell–as if living through them wasn’t enough already!  This isn’t to say that I won’t welcome 2017 with open arms, because I will.  But, we can’t possibly know (or choose not to foretell) what is in store next for humankind.  And this is where I choose prayer over worry or anticipation, and to poke fun when and where I can.

Acknowledging Deaths of Notables

So let’s just chat a little about the counts and categorizations of these notable deaths of those humans who were better known than most of us because of their occupations and their lives in the limelight.  Yet for them, like many of our family, friends and neighbors, they were chosen–regardless of their age, gender, race or ethnicity, DNA heritage, wealth, or reason for notability to end their journey and stay here on planet earth.  Now this is what I call an equalizer!   Most of these notables were widely known in Hollywood and were comfortable in the various social circles in which these people congregate to celebrate life and their successes, and various media worldwide annually count and pay homage to them.

Interestingly enough though, these counts and categorizations vary depending upon the source who provides them.    For example, TV Guide’s web article sites 60;’s slideshow includes 93; CBS News’ slideshow has 151 as of December 28; and, one of my favorite genealogical resources has a comprehensive “Necrology” Page that lists people and links to individual biographies and memorial pages for those who have died during a specific time period.  Findagrave states that it lists only 75 of the most famous people who died during the year–it starts in the year 1900 and maintains famous deaths by year and occupation through the present day.  And my count of the photos totals 75.  In contrast, however, Findagrave’s comprehensive list classifies notables and spans them across a variety of 31 categories.  One would quite naturally think then that one wouldn’t find counts of as many as 76 names within a single category. Yet six of the 31 categories have 70+  deaths listed. In fact, Findagrave’s sum of their categorized listings for 2016 totaled  566 !!!  I guess I’m just being picky, or maybe Findagrave chose not to rank individual notables or their talents and skills for which they might be best known so they cross-classified them.

Below is my raw table of the 31 categories and counts of deceased with links to Findagrave’s categorized lists and associated pictures and biographies–followed by my admittedly quirky comments.

Click on any category within this table to go directly to’s page. choose thumbnails or list view, then click on any individual to see their full biography and memorial page.

Actors 76
Actresses 73
Animals 1
Artists & Architects 7
Authors and Writers 54
Business Magnates 3
Crime Fighters & Lawyers 1
Criminals, Eccentrics, & Oddities 1
Educators 1
Entertainers 75
Explorers & Adventurers 4
Magicians 0
Medal of Honor Recipients 3
Military Figures 5
Miscellaneous 9
Musicians & Composers 75
Native Americans 1
Organized Crime Figures 0
Philanthropists 0
Politicians 75
Relatives of Notables 0
Religious Figures 10
Royalty 6
Scientists & Inventors 9
Social Reformers 0
Sports Figures 75
Suffragists 0
U.S. First Ladies 1
U.S. Presidents & Vice Presidents 0
U.S. Supreme Court Justices 1
Victims of Crime & Disaster 0

Quirky Commentary

Let’s start with the obvious:

  • Take a look first at those table categories that were empty. These would be: Magicians–maybe there is more to this thing they call “magic,” than I realized; Organized Crime Figures–Ah ha–does crime really pay?; Philanthropists–did their gifts to charities and helping the needy buy them more time?; In the Relatives of Notables category, did Notables save their relatives just because they could?; Has society just given up and there are no more Social Reformers or Suffragists?; U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents–now there are a few who are getting up there and we all know the tolls of  being Commander In Chief;  Victims of Crime and Disasters–were there none this year, well that would be a wonder, if it were true.
  • Separate categories for Actors and Actresses?  After 1660 in England, women first started to appear on stage, the terms actor or actress was initially used interchangeably for female performers; in the 1950’s and 1960’s post-World War II period, contributions of women to cultural life in general were being reviewed and occupational titles were being updated to become unisex and universally applied to men and women.  With all the attention recently to transgenders–doesn’t a single category just make more sense?
  • Well, here’s a category that is seldom seen or heard about within notable deaths: Animals.  Let’s see, that reduces my 566 total down to 565.  In this instance, the inclusion was the 18-year-old 2001 Kentucky Derby Winner “Monarchos.”
  • Nancy Reagan’s fame became more universal when she was wife of our 40th President, Ronald Reagan and this country’s First Lady.  (But she was First Lady #39 because President James Buchanan never married!)  Nancy  Reagan was a professional actress from 1949-1956 and appeared in 11 movies and a music video.  She was also a social reformer for her “Just Say No” anti-drug abuse message.  So, Nancy’s fame was cross-classified among 3 categories:  Actress, Authors and Writers, and First Lady–But shouldn’t she also have been included within  the categories “relative of a notable,”  and “Politician?” After all, most of us know she was the woman behind the man–especially in the latter years of Reagan’s administration, during his catnaps.  So, I’ll subtract another 2 from my running count of 565 to make it 563 notable deaths of humans!
  • Now, what comes to your minds when you think “Artists and Architects?”I’m open to suggestions for one or more categories to improve upon Findagrave’s overarching category; but among the 7 notables listed, only 1 was a fine arts and sculpture artist–Marcel Barbeau; two were architects–Gertrude Kerbis and  Zaha Hadid; the remaining four notables:  1 was a cartoon films animator, another was a cartoonist and illustrator, and finally the last two included an entertainer’s costume designer, and a Paris-born fashion designer!
  • But wait, what about the 75 entertainers and 75 musicians and composers? Were the actors and actresses not entertainers, or were the entertainers who among them were Screen, TV, and music producers or directors, comedians, singers, not entertaining?
  • And finally, there also were 75 politicians listed–well, we all have heard far too much about politics and politicians this year–I will just leave this one alone.

Truly, 2016 was a year among years to be remembered–not because it was great in so many ways.  But rather, because it was so painfully hurtful and outright unbelievable in far too many categories–You know, all lives matter! We all should conduct ourselves mannerly and respectfully.  We also should ask ourselves today what legacies do we think we will leave behind, and what will we be remembered for by others when its time for our names to be listed?

Happy 2017 Everyone!

My Favorite Mullethead

This little tike, my #2 grandson, was two when this picture was taken of him in 1990.  He’s now 25 and has twins of his own (a boy and a girl) who will be two in just a few months.  With all of today’s varying cultures and social styles, I’ll be interested in seeing their first haircuts.

Justin MulletOne thing for sure–my grandson’s mom worked as a hairdresser.  As handsome as he was (and is), he always was one of the first to sport whatever new cuts came down the pike because he was her guinea pig for testing out the new styles. (And, he probably donned the “rat tail” much longer than most.  It wasn’t until he was being bullied for it at school that mom decided she would cut it off.)

And, just what was behind the mullet do’s?  When and why did mullets come into being?  Did they serve a practical, political, or social purpose?

As you can see, the mullet  hairstyle was short at the front and sides, and hung long in the back.

History of the Mullet

cultural significance

The first known literary reference to the hairstyle currently known as the mullet occurred in Homer‘s Iliad.   The Iliad is among the oldest extant works of Western literature, and its written version is usually dated to around the 8th century BC (760-710 BC according to the most recent statistical models on language evolution).

“The sprinting Abantes followed hard at his heels,
their forelocks cropped, hair grown long in the back,
troops nerved to lunge with their tough ashen spears
and slash the enemies’ breastplates round their chests.”

 in Popular Media

billy-ray-cyrus2011The mullet began to appear in popular media in the 1960s and 1970s but was most well known during the early 1980s and into the mid-1990s.  Some of the better known mullet coifs were donned by Richard Dean Anderson in his TV role as MacGyver and My Achy Breaky Heart, one-hit-wonder, Billy Ray Cyrus–better known today as Miley Cyrus’s/Hannah Montana’s dad. (His 2011 picture on the right shows him still sporting a version of that mullet!)  Joe_dirt

And there was at least one other mullet die-hard:  David Spade in 2001 when he starred in the comedy movie, Joe Dirt. If you were victimized by this movie, then you will know that Joe Dirt  was an idiot character who worked as an oil weller in search for his parents who abandoned him as a baby at the grand canyon.  Which is my long-way-around approach to the meaning of mullethead.  The word “mullethead.” meaning dim-witted, originated in the late 19th century.
From a practical-living standpoint, came the term BIFPIB, meaning “business in the front (for day) and party in the back,” (for evenings and weekends).

And then, it seemed that the Jerry Springer TV Show drew from a demographic of mulletheads for his TV talk show that began in 1991 and continues to focus on dumb-to-dismal relationships among under-educated and under-cultured guests.

So my take on all of this–from my cutie-pie mullethead of 1990 to the present day–if you want to look and be successful (outside of the entertainment industry), then it’s best not to don a mullet or hang out with those who do.  And, if you do want to, then you might try a different spin on the mullet.  I understand the 37th Annual  2013 Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival (recently named one of the USA’s top 12 food festivals by Parade Magazine) happens in Niceville, Florida, this October.  (The story gets a little fishy, here.) You might need to check it out at

Searching for and Documenting Ancestral Gifts and Talents: I’ve Got the Music In Me, Part 7

This post continues a discussion I began on FaceBook about three months ago, “Has anyone documented gifts and talents, especially musicality of Bolling ancestors?”  The post received about 100 views and several responses from a dozen or so descendants of the Bolling family.  So, I thought I would summarize the anecdotal information below and include a couple of examples of the talents:

Surnames of those Bolling Descendants who Responded with Comments:

Boling, Bostwick, Bowling, Boyance, Bushman, Frazier, Hutson, Pollard, Powell Goins, Semones Probus, Tomlinson

Three Months of Anecdotal Responses:

  • My mom was a Boling and very artistic and creative… Also musical–played piano by ear! Most of her descendants inherited her creativity.  February 23 at 10:40am
  • Must surely be genetic talent–everyone on my maternal side (who descend from Bolling) is musical! March 1 at 12:22am

  • I was able to play almost any instrument given to me as a kid. My older kids definitely inherited that. I’m also an artist and writer. All my kids seem to be artistically gifted.  April 7 at 6:44pm
  • My grandmother, mother, and many other family members are very artistic. Painting, drawing, music, etc.  April 7 at 7:26pm 
  • My husband is the BOLING, most of his kin are very, very artistic and musical.  April 8 at 8:03pm 
  • Same here, My dad was artistic, My oldest girl,15, is amazing at drawing, painting and has taught herself almost five instruments. It just passed over me I think.
  • I don’t have a bit of artistic ability.  April 9 at 6:41pm 
  • I have an artist web site and would love to have others from here post their work on it. Be sure to say you’re from the bowling/bolling page.  Would be fun to see some family work. April 9 at 6:43pm
  • I remember drawing and writing poetry and short stories up until high school but I was never encouraged to keep it up and I just stopped. My children all seem to be able to draw, sing, play instruments etc.. That makes me happy and I encourage them to continue.  April 9 at 7:06pm
  • I didn’t think about writing poetry…I do write well and I really like it. Haven’t written for fun in a long time. Not since I started back to school.  April 9 at 7:07pm Sophia Frazier Book Cover
  • So far, I know I’m from the Clarissa Bowling *father Ambrose G Bowling* line, if that helps. I’m a published author and have sold some paintings. I was adopted so will have to ask my cousins who else on my father’s side may have some artistic talent. I remember them telling me one of my uncles or grandpa wrote a book.  April 9 at 7:10pm 
  • If bad singing is a musical talent, we’ve got it covered! April 10 at 11:21am 
  • LeonaBushmanBookcoverI’ve written a few books. My dad plays musical instruments. My dad, my sister and I all draw. My niece writes poetry.  April 10 at 1:11pm
  • Yeah, singing, I love to, but have to have an instrument blaring in my ear.  If someone asked if I could sing, I used to say, “Only if I wish to offend…” April 10 at 1:58pm 
  • I sang in high school and now in the church choir. My daughter, Alex, can sing the first verse of the Ave Maria she is only 9.  April 16 at 8:49am 
  • Amazing talents abound. We are so blessed. April 16 at 9:03am 
  • Jason Crabb - Grammy Award Winning Gospel Singer

    Jason Crabb – Grammy Award Winning Gospel Singer

    My distant cousins (the Crabb Family) of the “Bowling Family Group” sing gospel. One is the sister of Jason Crabb (Grammy Award Winning Gospel Vocalist) April 19 at 2:59pm [BTW, Jason’s features very much resemble several of the men in my Boling family.]

  • Music is my thing. Played tbone in high school. Play guitar and piano. At one time I was studying drums and wind instruments. May 3 at 2:41am 
  • I also tried my hand at art and singing–I was told to sing “so low” and based upon my drawings–not to give up my day job!
  • Brother and sons are musicians and songwriters.  From “Crosswords” 1999 Album, “Cain”:  I’ve Been

    – my son is the drummer in this Contemporary Christian Music Band.  My grandchildren are gifted artists, writers and musicians.

  • My great niece is 8 and has an angelic voice with perfect pitch.
  • My aunt looked and sang very much like Patsy Cline.
  • JackieDrawingforFathersDay2013My young adult nephews and nieces are natural artists from caricatures to portraits.  My niece drew the next two pictures of herself, siblings, and father.
  • One of my artistic nephews tried art school, fell on hard times, and had to quit. He’s now a cook at a local pub, but playing guitar and singing in a small local band.
  • 20130502-162539.jpgJohn Doan Concert at the Chapel Arts Center, Bath, England

Posted on April 30, 2013 by Lorelle – Press Release (Bath, UK):— Emmy nominee and master harp guitarist John Doan with family roots to Bath and Burton, will perform at the Chapel Arts Centre, St James’s Memorial Hall as part of his European Tour 2013. Chapel Arts Centre is located at Lower Borough Walls, Bath, BA1 1QR. The show is scheduled for 8pm on Tuesday, May 21, 2013. Tickets are advance: £8.00, Door: £10.00. For more information, call the Chapel Arts Centre at 01225 461700.

A “Celtic Pilgrimage with John Doan” features music from John’s award winning recording “Eire – Isle of the Saints” (Winner of “Best Celtic Album of the Year”) and Wayfarer (also nominated for the same title).

Concert Description

Master harp guitarist and storyteller John Doan is a Bard for the 21st Century bringing back soulful and provocative musical sketches from a pilgrimage to the most sacred sites of the British Isles. “Thin Places,” as they were once called, were believed to be where the space between heaven and earth, and past and future, were thinly divided. John shares what he found there inspired by breathtaking landscapes, historic ruins, and dynamic stories underlying the faith and vision of a people who shaped the world we have come to call our own. He now leads his audiences back down ancient paths to locations made famous by St. Patrick and the “Twelve Apostles of Ireland” along winding roads to secluded sanctuaries and by boat to remote island retreats. Adventurous, thoughtful, and renewing, this is a journey memorable for its achingly beautiful moments and encouraging spirit.

What makes John Doan’s music provocative is that it is both ancient and contemporary, familiar and like nothing an audience has ever heard before. Some of the music on his Celtic albums were composed at Glastonbury while he was on tour, retracing his roots both in spirit and music.

Billboard Magazine says, “Critics Choice – John Doan’s music is a nearly perfect evocation of the Celtic spirit … intricate arrangements … poignant melodies.”

Philadelphia Weekly notes, “John Doan’s 20 strings liberates truly enchanting Celtic music… Doan transports us to another place and time.”

John Doan’s Instrument with Roots in England

John Doan has performed in various concert halls and festivals across the US and Europe, and his pioneering efforts – the first in modern times to compose and perform the twenty-string harp guitar – have resulted in the “John Doan Model” being manufactured in Ukraine this year.

Reminiscent of Queen Elizabeth the first’s favorite instrument, the Poliphont, the harp guitar supplements the standard guitar’s six fretted strings with six unfretted sub-bass strings and eight super treble strings, which ring with bell-like clarity. John Doan describes it as “almost the range of the piano but it is a lot easier to carry with you!”

John Doan’s Performance Background

In addition to his solo performances John has shared the stage with Burl Ives, Donovan, Rickie Lee Jones, among others. His virtuoso playing and arranging has attracted praise from no less guitar luminaries than Chet Atkins and Doc Watson.

John Doan has starred in various American PBS television specials one of which was awarded an Emmy-Nomination for “Best Entertainment Special of the Year.” John lives in the Northwest United States with his wife, Deirdra, where he is Associate Professor of music at Willamette University.

Family Roots in Bath

John Doan has family roots to Bath as the descendant of a former Mayor and the prominent Ames family of Burton. His puritan Doan ancestor escaped religious persecution in England and left to form the Plymouth Colony in North America in 1620 and served as assistant to the governor.

[This ancestor was Deacon John Doane, whose daughter Abigail Doane, married my 8th maternal great grandfather Samuel Lathrop/Lothrop.]

Doan is hoping that thousands of his extended family will give a good show of family spirit by attending his concert in Bath. He would like to formally forgive those in attendance for their ancestors inhospitable behavior toward his family (or ask for forgiveness for his family’s behavior who left to the USA). All should prepare for a good laugh or perhaps a cathartic experience. Either way, the audience should feel better than they did before the concert.

I may have gone a little overboard with my lengthy last example, but if I am to build a comprehensive and worthwhile database of gifts and talents that includes heritage and relationships, I would need more bibliographic and biographic information to make it both more interesting and meaningful to its viewers.  And the ancient Bolling family, too, has an aristocratic history, many of whom were politicians and office holders, ministers, doctors, lawyers, authors, etc.  This is no short task before me.  More contributors/contributions of examples appreciated.

It’s a Small World…


A Follow-On to I’ve Got the Music in Me–and Oh, How it Moves Me! – Part 3

On February 25, 2013, I published a blog I’ve Got the Music in Me–and Oh, How it Moves Me! – Part 3.  It included a song with lyrics sung by C. Daniel Boling, who shares the surname,talents and heritage of the Boling family.

Daniel, as it turns out, is an award-winning folksinger/songwriter/guitarist who “has a storyteller’s eye for detail,” as published in his bio on the web.  In his songs the interesting characters that live on through his music and lyrics are drawn from his life, family and friends. Here’s another example of Daniel Boling’s clever lyrics and entertaining stories.

Beginning in February, 2008, Daniel started performing and touring full-time. Daniel prefers venues where original, lyric-driven music is valued and folks love to listen to his creative stories.

Although Daniel and I didn’t know each other when my blog story went live, shortly thereafter he commented on it and we exchanged a few messages.  And, low and behold we learned that we do, in fact, share the same lineage from Pocahontas and Colonel Robert Bolling from the  15-1600’s.  We next discovered a link to the Reverend Jesse B. Bolling, born in 1758, who died in Kentucky 1841.  This Rev. Jesse B. Bolling, “The Elder,” is a great grandfather in Daniel’s line.

It appears that my grandfather, Jesse B. Bolling, (1902-1978) was a namesake to Daniel’s Jesse B. Bolling, 150 years later.  And just this week, I learned from my father that not only was my grandfather, Jesse, a cabinetmaker, but he also made a cigar box ukulele, indicating his interest in music, too.

Besides being creative writers, lovers of music, and apparently both quick witted, Daniel and I are sharing similar life experiences with our octogenarian elders.  It just goes to show you, that  the longer you live, the smaller the world becomes;and, around any corner may be another clue to who you are, from where you came, and who among you, might be a member of your family that you just haven’t met yet.  Just as in Adam and Eve’s days in the garden and in Disney’s Magic Kingdom, when it comes to family, it can be a small world–“It’s a world of laughter. A world of tears. It’s a world of hopes. And a world of fears. There’s so much that we share. That it’s time we’re aware. It’s a small world …”


“Darwin’s Pride & Joy” by: C. Daniel Boling Music, Lyrics, Songs, and Videos

Walt Disney’s: It’s a Small World After All Music published on YouTube by: OliviaYVids.

Joanne_Dickinson_Family_Tree-2 on

I’ve Got the Music In Me… Part 5


Is musical talent inherited? Researchers are leaning towards that possibility–continued

We always knew when my maternal grandmother, Loretta Lathrop Ford, was happy. She would be whistling like a canary, playing her harmonica, singing and dancing on the screened in porch with other family members, or “dancing up a storm” and “cutting a rug” at the American Legion Hall with other family.  My frame of reference for these memories goes back to the 1950’s.

Other Family Members “Got the Music” in Them, too!

Just like the baby in the video dancing to Bon Jovi, there’s very few of us who can keep from singing, tapping our feet, clapping our hands, or moving some part of our bodies to the beat when there’s music playing–Both my parents loved to jitter bug and they were quite a good looking duo out of the dance floor. In fact, their love of dancing continued up until about 2000 when their Knights of Columbus dances and circles of friends got fewer and fewer and dad developed neuropathy in his legs.

My mother repeats the story that her mom, Loretta, told various family members over the years; “That Norma would tap dance on roller skates going down a flight of steps.”  Mom said my grandmother must have been “pipe-dreaming,” because she only remembers the story, not the actual activity.

Family Musicians and Music Lovers in the 1950’s

In an earlier blog, From Everyday Moments May Come Precious Memories, posted on January 12, 2013, I wrote about the weekend car trips where everybody in the car was singing songs from the old south and traditional hymns.

Image:  Admiral Phonograph

Admiral Phonograph

My dad, Frank’s, sister–my aunt Delores, was a Patsy Cline, sound alike, and from the picture on Ms. Cline’s webpage–very much a look alike, too.  We would play vinyl 78,
33-1/3, and 45 rpm records on our portable Admiral Phonograph and have family sing along’s much like today’s home Karaoke.  Further evidence that television and solitaire video games take away from quality family times.

My great uncle Jack Shipp and his daughter “Sissy,” created a repertoire of music they would perform for family get togethers. Jack played acoustic guitar and Sissy sang–and in some of her songs Sissy would yodel.

Image:  1950 Ad for Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour

Jack and Sissy (she was maybe 12) were so talented that they appeared in Washington, DC, on Ted Mack’s The Original Amateur Hour (about 1950). This show was the precursor to this generation’s Star Search and American Idol, except it was broadcast on both American radio and television. In fact, Amateur Hour was a continuation of radio’s Major Bowes Amateur Hour that was broadcast from 1934 to 1945. Ted Mack succeeded Major Edward Bowes in 1945 and brought the show to TV in 1948.

Music Around Us in the 1960’s

In the early 1960’s, though not together, my husband, Bob, and I both appeared on the Milt Grant TV Show in Washington, DC–similar to Dick Clark’s dance show American Bandstand out of Philadelphia, PA. And believe it or not, each of us with our dance partners won the dance contest the day we appeared on the show. In the video clip that features Milt Grant, he’s promoting Pepsi Cola and the “highly portable” radio with an antenna-turning carry handle–and–“volumatic tuning,” oh nostalgia!

Image:  Joanne Boling holding accordion

Joanne Boling Accordion

While I studied accordion for 13 years, Bob played the trumpet in high school and in the Marine Corps. In fact, Bob received a commendation for entertaining the troops aboard the USS General W. A. Mann when returning from Okinawa.

Rhythm & Blues, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Hard Rock, and More Family Musicians

I was 11 years old before my parents gave me a baby brother, Frankie, named after my dad.  And when he was five, another baby boy came along, Johnny, after my maternal uncle who had recently passed. Their two names together left my brothers forever tagged, “Frankie and Johnny”–like the 1917 Frankie and Johnny Dixieland Jazz piece.  They still cringe at that reference to them today.

Bob and I married very young and began our family about 18 months later . So, my youngest brother was only 3-1/2 years older than our eldest son. Hard Rock was the popular genre in those days, and my eldest son and eldest brother both loved the drums. Some families had dueling banjos–we had dueling drums. Both boys were equally talented. My brother, Frank’s, first band experience was with the Out-of-Hand Wilson Band–you know the local teen aged school boy band. I recall going to several Battle of the Bands contests.

Our son, Bobby honed his skills and searched long and hard for his genre and musical path which became his avocation–Contemporary Christian Music Ministries.

Bobby played drums for about 10 years with friends from three churches.  Their band “CrossWords” was popular up and down the east coast and they played various coffee houses and at christian gatherings. One of their more popular hangouts was “My Brother’s Place,” in Waldorf, MD.    Meanwhile, my brother, Frank, still plays drums and sings in rhythm and blues bands locally, as well as produces lights and sound mixes for music-based events.

We are still seeing musical talents emerge as my brother Frank’s children, now young adults, play guitar and banjo in bands in the Washington Metropolitan Area. In fact, Frank’s daughter’s child, age 7, has perfect pitch and one day sat down to a piano for the very first time and started playing Bach’s “Jesu’ Joy of Man’s Desiring.” When we asked her where she learned that she said; “Oh, I just heard it somewhere!” And, my daughter’s daughter, age 12, just played at her first piano recital–at nearly the same age as I was when I played my first.

So, whether it’s nature, nurture, environment, motivation, or self-initiative does it really matter? Some may become notable in the field, but our family just loves music and it’s something we all love to share with each other. In a future blog we’ll not leave the drama at home either–we will share stories about the great actors and directors in our family, too! Happy blogging.

…I’ve Got the Music In Me, and Oh How it Moves Me: Part 1

Musical Dynasties: It (Genetically) Runs in the Family

“Genetics may account for musical predisposition and ability.” The following article by Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D. originally appeared December 31, 2011, in Psychology Today‘s Here, There, and Everywhere Blog.

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, and former Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder discovered in his teens that his true biological father was a musician that played guitar.

Singer, songwriter, and guitarist KT Tunstall (“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree“), “Suddenly I See” was adopted at birth. Her adoptive parents did not have much of an interest in music. However, Tunstall later discovered that her biological father, Ed Severson Jr., was a folk singer.

Even recent X-Factor finalist Chris Rene is from a musical family. Chris’ father, Rafaele “Googie” Rene, was a jazz and soul singer, and his grandfather, Leon Rene, was a music composer – and the creator of “Rockin’ Robin”.

Is musical talent inherited?  Researchers are leaning towards that possibility.

A medical geneticist and her colleagues analyzed 224 family members who were either professional musicians, active amateur musicians, or were related to professional or active amateur musicians.  On standard tests of musical aptitude, it was found that the inheritability rate of musical talent was 50%.

Not only that, but some family members with no musical training scored the same as professional musicians on the tests.  It was also discovered from blood tests of study participants that two chromosomes had genes that were linked to musical ability (Jarvela, et al. 2008).

And how about the opposite direction – families where no one can carry a tune?  One study found that even tone-deafness (“congentical amusia”) is genetic (Peretz, et al. 2007).

Copyright 2011 Sarkis Media LLC

My Connection with Kiki Dee, the Singer of I’ve Got the Music In Me (1974)

Image:  Kiki Dee Band Album Cover

Kiki Dee Band Album Cover

I feel a direct connection to Kiki Dee and her music. We were born the same year. I was born in Maryland and she, in Little Horton, Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England–the very origin of my ancient English Bolling ancestors, that I have traced back to 1190 and my 23rd Great Grandfather, William DeBolling.

Ms. Dee began singing with a local band in Bradford in the early 1960s. And, like me, her favorite music genre was POP. Her biggest hit came when she recorded a duet in 1976 with Elton John (also my age):Don’t Go Breaking My Heart“. This single reached No. 1 in both our countries and remained at the top for six weeks. Kiki is still active as a singer today.

And, you may ask why am I sharing Kiki Dee’s music and singing, I Got the Music In Me, with you and why should I feel a strong connection to her.  And my only answer is  her music moves me with its upbeat tempo and lyrics that describe my philosophy towards living:

Ain’t got no trouble in my life
No foolish dream to make me cry
I’m never frightened or worried
I know I’ll always get by
I heat up, I cool down
When something gets in my way I go around it
Don’t let life get me down
Gonna take it the way that I found it…

And, I would be remiss if I failed to thank you the songwriter ,Tobias “Bias” Boshell for these lyrics.

In Part 2, of this blog, we will look closer into my family’s “inherent music abilities” and whether we are another example that supports the research that two chromosomes have genes that are linked to music ability.