Friday, April 11, 2014

True Heroes from A to Z: J

Quickly, I'm guest posting over at Annalisa Crawfords place to help celebrate her reaching the big 40! Pop in and stretch your creative muscles with us.

True heroes are all around us, in our every day lives, but some people stand out. During this A-Z Challenge I hope to share several of my real life heroes, and invite you to share yours in the comments.

Heroes can be on a large scale, or on a personal and close one. Today I'd like to share one dear to my heart:

ohnson, Sofe Christen Wasden, AKA Great Grandma Johnson. Once or twice a year we'd hop in the van and drive 8 hours to go visit Grandma and Great Grandma. Grandpa passed away when I was 8, and since then, they'd lived together.

The best part about spending time with Grandma Johnson was talking. We'd sit and chat for hours. I remember interviewing her once. She told me about owning only two dresses growing up, and how a Native American stopped into her parent's home and offered to take her away and make her an Indian princess.

She learned to play piano by listening to her older brother's lessons. Her parents could only afford to have one child taught, so she'd wait until he was done practicing, then slip in to the piano and repeat everything she'd heard. It made him so mad.

When she learned about my love for music composition, she gifted me a sheet music notebook with a single inscription on the inside cover: "Music is poetry of the soul."

She passed away when I was 16 (she was 96), and it was a hard death for me. I had seen many loved ones pass away, but I wouldn't get anymore of those quiet conversations. I thought I'd lost her, but I swear Great Grandma Johnson has been my "musical" guardian angel ever since. Her influence is still with me long, long after her passing.

These are some old gems I composed years ago, part of a musical we hope to see on stage in the distant future (and yes, I'm singing the female portions while 5 flippin' months prego):

Listen HERE
Or HERE


The release date for
has been announced! To celebrate, MOONLESS is on sale now for $1.99! (But only for the month of April.) Find out what the big deal is behind Moonless nights.

Jane Eyre meets Supernatural.

Alexia must choose safety and an arranged marriage, or true love and being hunted by the Soulless every moonless night.



Do you have anyone who has encouraged you in a budding talent? Your own guardian angel? A relative you adore who has passed away?

93 comments:

  1. What a wonderful gift she gave you. I feel the same way about my grandfather - I still miss sitting and talking with him and listening to his stories.

    Heading over to Annalisa's now. :)

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  2. Thanks for telling us about your grandma. Keep treasuring those stories!

    Heading over to Annalisa's blog.

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  3. This is so sweet! I've been very lucky to have my grandparents still around--they are such wonderful sources of comfort and information :)

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    1. I feel the same way. It kills me when people don't appreciate older individuals in society.

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  4. Another beautiful tribute! :) heading over to the other blog now.

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  5. She sounds like an amazing woman--and like she was so proud that her granddaughter had a love for music composition!

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    1. She was definitely encouraging on every front.

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  6. Very touching story! I love the title to her music sheet! I am also really intrigued by your Moonless book blip today Jane Eyre meets supernatural. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite of the classics.

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  7. I'm sorry you don't get to chat with her now. And she could've been an Indian princess - wow!

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    1. I know! Without running water or a roof. That would have been epic.

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  8. Okay, that is some serious musical talent in your family. I LOVE that song! It has like that haunting Phantom if the Opera thing going on. I swear, some people get all the talent. ;-) I would definitely want to see this, just based in the title alone.

    I love how supportive your family is. ^_^

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    1. Aw. Thanks so much! It will get there, one day.

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  9. The story about your Grandma's offer to become an Indian princess is priceless! I could see that as a novel in your future:) My Grandma was spunky and spoke her mind. I, in no way, am a spitting image of her. She was the first person to supply me with an endless stash of paper and pens!

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    1. Way to go Grandma! Grandma pens are the best.

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  10. I loved your music! You have a beautiful voice! How did you record that? Did you have a band, or was it a synthesizer/keyboard with tracks laid down?

    I bet I would've liked your Grandmother. She's sounded like a wonderful person!

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    1. Thank you, Sherry. We a sampled instrument library that encompasses almost every instrument in existence, ever. It takes a great deal of work to get the tracks laid right based off midi technology, and it would sound better with a couple live instruments overlapped, but it is what it is.

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  11. You were so lucky to have her that long and to hear her stories.

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  12. Wow, fantastic! You have impressive vocal range. I hope you get your musical on stage! It's beautiful what your great grandmother wrote in the sheet music book she gave you. :-)

    My grandma is one of my heroes. She was tough as nails, yet kind to the grandkids

    Great post, Crystal. Thanks for the smile. :-).

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    1. Thank you, Teresa. I never thought it was rare to find a first soprano/second alto until I got serious in the choir circuit. Much thanks to some amazing voice teachers for pushing me to my extremes.

      I love that--your grandma was so tough, yet a sweet with the grandkids. Awesome.

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  13. She lived a long life. I had piano lessons growing up and I found them to be hard. There is no way I could have learned by copying someone else's lesson after the fact. She must have really been musically inclined. I'm glad her influence is still with you.

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    1. She was pretty amazing musically, and determined to the greatest extremes. I guess in some ways I wanted to be just like her.

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  14. So cool that you knew your great grandmother. My grandfather is one of my heroes, and I suspect the source of my writing bug. :)

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    1. Awesome! It's a privilege to have these people in our lives, eh?

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  15. It's clear that there was a strong bond between you and your grandmother's, which will be there forever. And the gift of music she gave you should be shared with the world. I got shivers listening to your song, and by the end my eyes were teary. Have you considered auditioning on The Voice? I'm not kidding. Seriously. Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

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    1. Aw. Thanks, Debi. It's been a long time since I performed competitively, although I do still perform regularly. It's one thing I miss--not the competitions, but being on stage.

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    2. You should keep doing it. You're very good.

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  16. You're story just gave me chills. I feel the same way about by grandmother. I'm sure she's my guardian angel.

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  17. Brava! That song is fantastic---thanks for sharing it.

    Your grandma sounds like a very neat lady. It's nice to you got to get so close to her - and that she still speaks to you.

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  18. Crystal, Great Grandma Johnson sounds like my grandmother who passed away in her nineties. I used to love listening to my grandmother's stories.

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  19. I love meeting your family members through your Challenge. :) I never got to know either of my grandmas and reading about your amazing Great Grandma Johnson really makes me wish I could've. <3

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    1. I'm of the opinion you will get to one day. ;)

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  20. Both of my grandmothers were strong, resourceful, hard-grafting women and I feel privileged to not only have known them, but to share their DNA; wonderful legacies both biologically and emotionally. Your grandmother sounds to have been quite magical, Indian princesses, musician and all. You have obviously inherited her gifts and honed them as your own. As for my heroine beginning with J, I would choose Jane Eyre every time. I first met her when I was ten years old and still have the copy of the book my parents gave me that Christmas. I treasure it. I am currently reading the novel yet again, this time as research for my next novel, a time slip between the present and World War 1. Anyone who loves Jane will find echoes of her timeless story there ... Mind you, I keep getting so lost in Jane's story that mine may well be some while in materialising!

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    1. Jane is pretty magical. I honestly didn't realize she had that much of an influence on me until my writing coach pointed it out.

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  21. WHOA... Crystal! You have a STUNNING VOICE and the song is gorgeous!!!! SOOO much talent in one person!

    My grandparents died by the time I was ten, but I remember three of them. My dad's mother died when he was 18.

    Sadly it wasn't a family member who encouraged my talent it was my mom's girlfriend. She's like an aunt to me and still alive at 83...

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    1. Thank you, Michael. I think that's why it took me so long to launch my career--too busy with music.

      We'll take surrogate family members who encourage us, eh? Have you adopted her yet?

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  22. Wow! That gave me chills. Very impressive.

    Wonderful story about your great grandmother. You certainly made me miss my grandma.

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    1. I'm so sorry, Loni. The memories are bittersweet, eh?

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  23. Lovely, heartfelt post:) Sounds like she was an amazing woman.

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  24. Holy hairballs, Crystal! I thought I was listening to a Broadway soundtrack! Incredible. Your voice is AMAZINGly beautiful and your talent for composing music is mind-blowing. Please tell me the sheet music for your musical is available in music stores....

    Such a sweet tribute to your grandmother, she sounds truly amazing. I loved the part about the Native Americans wanting to take her away and make her an Indian princess!

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    1. You were listening to a Broadway soundtrack...just not quite on Broadway yet. The sheet music is on my computer and printed in my file, but not available to the public. Not yet. One day, eh?

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  25. Oh wow! you have such a wonderful voice and that you composed this is amazing!

    I hear you re quiet times with your greatgrandma. It's such a gift to have that person in your life, who you can sit with to chat and just be. She sounds like an amazing woman and it seems to me and the life you live, the way you use your talents, if a fitting tribute to her, your dad and other family members who influenced you.

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    1. *blushing* Thank you, Damaria. I have been extremely blessed with an amazing family.

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  26. You are spectacularly talented! What a voice! It's so lovely that you shared something so special with your grandma. <3

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  27. It sounds like she was a wonderful woman - I love the story about how she learned to play the piano!

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  28. What a blessing that you really got to know your great grandmother! Mind died before I was born. You really are lucky, and she sounds wonderful.

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  29. It's wonderful that you had such an inspiration in your life! I've never had anyone in my life who's been "on the writing train," so I guess I've been my own inspiration. I love, LOVE the composition, by the way. Such a beautiful voice! And the accompaniment is simply lovely!!

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    1. Thanks much, Randi. Would you believe I'm the only one in my family to pursue the arts? I feel like a black sheep. Always have. Way to be an individual.

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  30. What a delightful and clever woman! It's sure lucky she didn't become an Indian princess so got to grow up and then enjoy all her great-grandchildren. :)

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    1. I know! Her mom was listening in on that conversation and kicked the Indian out right away.

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  31. Grandparents are such a special treasure. I'm blessed to still have three of mine. My paternal grandpap passed on in August 2005, at age 84, and I took it very hard. He was happy with what life gave him, and probably wasn't secretly disappointed that I hadn't given him any great-grandkids in spite of being 25 when he passed on.

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    1. Lol. I'm sure he was happy just to have you. =)

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  32. I love sitting and gaining wisdom with people like grandparents. Reminds me how much I have to learn and how amazing older people really are.

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    1. We really do need to take more time for them, eh?

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  33. Beautiful voice and music! I barely knew my grandparents.

    Love,
    Janie

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  34. What a wonderful connection. I had a similar one with my grandpa. He would always bring me notebooks and folders to encourage my writing and drawing. :)

    The Immarcescible Word

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  35. Grandma's are amazing... mine was called Nan... I loved her, she was our person of refuge when things were too tough with our nasty step mother.. she was like a second mom to me when I had my oldest daughter.

    I love grandmas and grandpas... they are the best :)

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  36. I'm sure she still talks to you in the wee hours of the morning. I bet you two have some wonderful quiet conversations.

    My great-grandmother is the one who taught me to knit.

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  37. It's wonderful you spent so much time with your grandmother and listened to her stories. I stopped at another blog this evening where the blogger was talking about missing so many opportunities to learn about her grandmother while she was alive...and I'm afraid that happens way too often.

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    1. I think you're right. We have to teach kids the treasure their relatives, eh?

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  38. I was blessed to know great-grandparents on both sides. I wish I'd asked them more about their lives when they were still around. The voice of encouragement that always rings in my ear is my playwriting professor, Gary Gardner. He was the first person to call me a writer and believed in me until he passes earlier this year.

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    1. That's amazing--that moment when someone actually calls you a writer, well, besides you. =)

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  39. You're so lucky that you got to know one of your great grandparents. All my greats passed long before I was born. And I even lost both grandfathers before I was out of high school. Your great grandmother seems like she was a very interesting woman, and it's wonderful that she passed her love of music to you.

    Hope you’re having fun with the A to Z challenge,
    Jocelyn

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    1. She definitely was amazing. Great to see you here, Jocelyn.

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  40. Beautiful song. I'm glad your great grandmother guided you in your musical path.

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  41. She sounds like a formidable and lovely woman. I'm sorry you didn't have her for longer. The song is great; it makes me think of Phantom with its tone.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings - AtoZ (Vampires)
    FB3X - AtoZ (Erotic Drabbles)

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  42. I felt a pinch in my heart when I read your post. My grandmother also passed away years ago.

    I love the song, by the way! It's so beautiful!


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    1. Condolences. It's so hard to lose them.

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  43. Thanks for sharing this post. It was beautifully relatable and made me think of my own grandmothers. One was a piano teacher and quite the musician. I also got into music in my teenage years, but it was all in a new kind of indie rock style and the lyrics were often kind of sad. I never shared it with family because I was insecure about it (in retrospect, it was not actually very good, but it was certainly nothing to be so embarrassed about either). So when she passed I don't know if she ever knew I wrote a single song.

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    1. That's awesome. I'm sure she knew/knows, and I'm sure she'd be very proud of you.

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  44. Music is poetry of the soul. How beautiful! She sounds wonderful, Crystal.

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  45. She sounds like quite a woman. How wonderful you have that talent and interest. She is then with you. I'm really enjoying your theme of hero's. I'll leave you some cheese...cause I have to cut back, they say my cholesterol is too high.
    Traveling Suitcase Thank you

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    1. Yes! I just ran out. Thanks for the recharge. =)

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Hit me with your cheese!