I was born and raised in Starkville, Mississippi, a small university town, and grew up in a musical family. My mother, an outstanding pianist and accompanist, taught piano lessons for years and also alternated between the piano or organ chair in various churches across the region. My father grew up listening to a lot of Rhythm and Blues and somehow held onto a lot of the records he acquired through the years. Between my mother’s musical endeavors and my father’s interest in (and participation in) various forms of music, I was exposed to a variety of sounds and styles.
Because I never had any siblings, one of my best friends while growing up was the music I listened to from my parents’ music collection (and my own music collection that I began harvesting during that time). Because of this, I literally spent the majority of my time as a youngster with headphones situated tightly around my head and countless LP records spinning on my parents’ turntable.
Somewhere around the time that I started grade school, I started taking violin lessons. I hardly recall much about that experience other than it couldn’t have lasted more than a couple of years. I certainly had very little appreciation for the instrument at that age, although I found that I had great skill in generating horrendous sounds from the instrument. I spent the next several years taking private piano lessons. Not unlike the violin experience, I was a horrible student and hardly ever practiced, learning early the stomach-pitting feeling of guilt going into a lesson and not being prepared. I’m really surprised that my teachers didn’t kill me.