I never knew who would be hanging around when I was a kid. I grew up in a small town in Missouri that today reminds me of something Norman Rockwell would have drawn pictures about. I spent the bulk of my time at my grandpa and grandma Brumley’s house. The doors were never locked, the house was always full people, all the kids played together and family was the most important thing in the world. I was used to people coming and going from my grandparent’s house. So when strangers stopped by I never paid much attention to them. The strangers just played with me. I sat on their laps, ate off their plates and I tried on many a hat. They were just folks sitting around the kitchen table fellow-shipping with my family.
What I didn’t know was that most of these strangers were music stars. Grandpa Jones, Lester Flatt, Kitty Wells, Jim & Jesse, and tons of other people would come by the house to visit with my family. I remember one time a man came that had fluffy black hair and wore sparkly clothes. Turned out it was Rick Nelson. But to me, he was just a guy who ate tomato sandwiches with my grandparents and swam in the creek with us kids.
The other thing I didn’t know was my grandfather was famous. To me he was just grandpa, but to the world he was Albert E Brumley. He wrote some of the most famous country, bluegrass and gospel songs of all time. Over 800 in total. The song he is most known for is “I’ll Fly Away.
Today “I’ll Fly Away” had been licensed and recorded over 5,000 times and been apart of 9 Grammy winning albums. There are countless gold and platinum albums with “I’ll Fly Away” on them and Grandpa has been inducted into 7 Halls of Fame. The Smithsonian called him the most important white songwriter before WWII. And this man was my grandfather! I mean seriously, how weird is that?
So I grew up in this world of Norman Rockwell, scratch made food with famous people around all the time and I never knew it. In fact, until I was in my mid 30’s I had no idea what my grandfather had contributed to the world. I grew up with awards around the house, going to Nashville, people flying in from New York, record executives hanging around and famous people sitting around the diner table. This was normal to me. It never occurred to me that this didn’t happen to other people. I just didn’t know. And until I got married and my husband pointed out to me how special my life was, I never thought about it. I just went through the motions.
Now I understand the gift I was given to know these people and to have such wonderful memories. I was able to experience family and friends in such a way that I was oblivious to anything from the outside world. In a way, I still am. I didn’t know that not everyone had this amazing childhood filled with music. I am just now starting to figure that out.
Because I am oblivious to the world, I have never really done anything like anyone else. I go along and things happen just seem to happen. I have no idea how they happen, but they do. This kind of thinking is how the I’ll Fly Away Foundation got started.
All I knew was that music touched me in a part of my soul like nothing else and that every person should have the chance to experience this feeling. I thought about my childhood and decided to start with kids and make sure all kids got to have some music in their lives.
So I blindly started a non-profit. I remembered how I felt as a kid surrounded by the joy of music and I want all kids to be able to experience that joy. I have no money, no sponsors and no clue how this will end up. But I go forth with my hope that all children get to have this experience.
In the last paragraph, I just figured out that this blog is going to be about my journey as I build this non-profit. I am going to tell old stories, new stories, stories of success and failures. I will share pictures and videos of children and mentors as we grow. Come join me as the I’ll Fly Away Foundation and our mission to “Improve children’s lives through music” grows and we invest in our children’s future with the power of music.