“My ten fingers work as well as any man’s”
Email of the day:
Email this Post
As a young girl, I dreamed of becoming a southern gospel pianist from the very first time I heard Rosa Nell Speer Powell tear up a song or two. When I was a very brash 13, I remember telling Shannon Childress at a Hoppers concert that he was fantastic but that I definitely wanted his job. I attend Stamps-Baxter School of Music for five years studying with Eloise Phillips and my original idol, Rosa Nell, to learn all of the hot licks in the so-called “hard driving style” that women allegedly can’t play. Hogswallop, I say! My ten fingers work as well as any man’s.
I did audition for a couple of groups. One was an all-male quartet and bluntly told me they couldn’t have a woman who wasn’t a wife or daughter traveling on a bus with them. This was around the time of the hire of Amy Lambert with the Greenes, so I found this quite ludicrous, but I supposed pianists were much easier than sopranos to find in the other gender. Another “family” mixed group explained that I had a wonderful talent and would fit well with their style but that a man would better suit them because he could help load and unload their equipment and assist with driving their bus.
That just about quashed my dream. In recent years I’ve chosen to just observe from the sidelines and comment occasionally. I do actually study with Shannon Childress now on a weekly basis, so even though I didn’t steal his job (by hook or by marriage like my fellow Stamps-Baxter alum), I do get to learn all of his great secret piano moves now.
I can only hope that those little girls who sit out there in audiences at concerts and who dream of accompanying the greats of the field get the chance that I was denied. Maybe one day groups will realize that women are just as talented as men and can give the same great show as any male pianist and that they don’t have to marry into their position or have their daddies to start groups just so they can have a spot in this field.