At the October 5th Gooden College Connection dinner that honored its Scholars, mentors, and contributors, one very special family member, Loretta, stole the show. She belted out “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in Gospel style right before the 9 p.m. wrap-up.
By this late hour, my donated background music had faded with the wind. It sounded like an anemic stream of MUZAK as escalating chatter and clanging forks drowned out the music. What on earth was I playing? Chopin, or a contemporary?
At that moment, I activated my mental panic button dragging Loretta, (one of Andy Gooden’s daughters) out of the kitchen and into the spotlight. (I’d overheard her hum a few tunes with the bizazz of Ella Fitzgerald on the way to the Gooden event, and that was “good-en-ough” for me.)
“How ’bout Rainbow?” she said, as if she read my mind.
Before long we were amazing collaborators delivering a riveting performance that shut down the chatter drone long enough to engage willing ears.
It was the same for me at the Berkeley Senior Center when I snagged an invite to play a solo at the Chinese Moon Festival. (Same day as GCC event) What a display of colorful dancers and Asian music framed my musical offering. The audience members listened attentively.
After Loretta pulled off her big solo at GCC, she graciously assisted me in loading and transporting my keyboard, bench and other gear back to my apartment.
At our final stop-off on Hopkins, I couldn’t resist an encore request.
This time I had West Side Story’s, “Somewhere,” at my fingertips.
And she had the Yeti mic wooing her to new heights of musical expression.
Here’s Loretta Gooden singing with unusual style and nuance to steal your heart.
Can you believe a family of 11 sisters and brothers?