According to my parents, I started singing at nine months and could harmonize by age two. (Really?) Now whether or not that’s accurate, I can’t remember a time in my life when I was NOT singing. My mom, my dad (a real ham and perfect Jolson mimic) his three brothers, my sister and even my grandparents, all sang – at home, in the car, at every family get-together. The first of many songs I’ve written was composed when I was nine. Unlike many children, I begged my parents to let me take piano lessons. In sixth grade, I wrote and starred in an abbreviated version of “H.M.S Pinafore”; in my junior high school’s production of “The Mikado”, I was one of the “Three Little Maids”; during high school, I was in Girls’ Chorus and in college, I was “Song Leader” of my sorority. Writing parodies for friends and family for special occasions became an avocation many years ago. Now, having written more than 100, I write parodies professionally. For over 20 years, I was both a third grade teacher as well as Chorus Director of as many as 60 students. I also wrote and directed musical productions at the end of every school year. After retiring from teaching in 2005, I fantasized about starting a singing group. Gathering musical friends and forming “Rita & The Cosmos” has been a dream come true. Creating four part arrangements and having them come to life through the voices of my treasured ensemble has been a thrill. Performing them for appreciative audiences is the icing on the cake!
Bobbi (Bratty Bossy Baby)
My love of music comes from my parents. The stereo was often on full blast and we’d all sing along at the top of our lungs. Then there were the Karaoke parties where it was hard to get the microphone out of my hand. Thank goodness I learned some refinement from my high school chorus teacher. In my twenties, I sang with a rock band but decided that the bar scene was not for me. Luckily I met my husband, Sam, who was a fabulous musician and who included me in his many projects. They were always a challenge and lots of fun. During Rita’s last year of teaching, my son, Alex, was in her class. Alex was one of her “stars” in the end-of-year school musical and Sam was her accompanist on guitar, harmonica and piano. When Rita retired and decided to start a singing group, I was excited to become part of “Rita & The Cosmos”. It has been a fantastic learning experience, providing wonderful friendships, rewarding “work” and a most enjoyable experience!
My entire family was musically inclined and we sang together all the time. I had a natural ability to harmonize and so when I was in my first school chorus in the sixth grade, I gravitated to the alto section where I have remained ever since, singing in choruses and choirs throughout my life. Working as a nurse at UCSF, I was able to combine my vocation with my avocation as we sang folk songs over the PA system to our patients in labor. That was back in the sixties and we may have been the pioneers of music therapy. It was a happy day when Rita (who had taught my children years earlier) invited me to join “Rita & The Cosmos” which has allowed me to sing on a weekly basis when we practice and even more frequently when we perform. Blending my voice with the members of this group of lively, lovely, sassy women has given me some of the most joyful moments in my many years of singing. Along the way, I have added hula dancing to my list of hobbies and interests. Music in all of its forms nurtures my body and soul!
There was always music on in my home, especially Broadway musicals and opera. We loved to sing as a family. My mom played the piano and sang in the church choir that her dad directed. My dad was an actor and director of local theater. My two sisters and I all took piano lessons and played other instruments as well. In my youth, I pursued a career in classical ballet in both Canada and Europe. Since then, I have loved my work as a geriatric physical therapist, but found that I missed performing. Singing in church was when I realized just how much I love to sing with others. It touches a place within me that nothing else can. That realization prompted me to pursue singing lessons. By coincidence, my vocal coach played tennis with Bobbi, whose singing group was looking for another soprano. It was serendipity when I auditioned for the group. Because I am so devoted to my work with older adults, I now have the opportunity to add my voice to the other five gals when we perform for this same population as well as at other events. I found my perfect match when I joined “Rita & The Cosmos”! Whether at rehearsals, private parties or senior centers, singing with them gives me so much joy!