Sunday, October 9, 2016

You're My Favorite One

Sitting in a room full of challenges, the first words I heard when Terese Grotius McKannan entered the room were: "You're my favorite one."
This darling pianist/vocalist, entertains at local nursing homes and retirement centers, and is quite a celebrity. McKannan is responsible for many smiles that are prompted by her confident ivories and crooning that assures them "life is gonna be so sweet ... on the sunny side of the street...." Residents who are hanging by a moment, allow the unflappable tunes to lure them back to another day. McKannan smiles, waves and belts "Zippity Doo Dah," while a darling lady rocks her baby doll in the wheelchair next to me, and perks up when Dianne Berry joins McKannan, belting out Barbra Streisand's "Second Hand Rose." Enjoying the show (and reactions), I clapped along with McKannan's rendition of "Daydream Believer" and more.
It's been two and a half years since my mom was admitted to a nursing home. The home is a seven mile drive for me, but some days it feels like a 700 mile drive. It takes all of my energy to just go. I am continuously in awe of the angels that I happen upon at the nursing home. The couple from a local church who take communion to my mother, the gifts she receives from school children, the beautiful vocalists that sometimes are heard throughout the hallways. Every little bit of goodness that goes into the walls of that nursing home does not go unnoticed. 
It was a great honor to enjoy Terese's performance yesterday and I wanted to share a blog previously written by M. Dianne Berry (see below). I hope you are able to see her show, too!
Terese Grotius McKannan
This life is full of marathons. We are running to school, work, exercise, shop, crafts and numerous activities. I hope our society is planning for the days ahead of us. Planning how we are going to give back to a generation who is assigned to live final days (months, years) where we will need a loving hand to make us feel alive again.
I recently heard from Angie McCartney (Paul's stepmum and also the entrepreneur responsible for Mrs. McCartneys Teas and Wine):

Angie told me this:
"We attended a great event last Saturday called Music Mends Minds. It is a charity aimed for people suffering from Parkinsons, Alzheimers, and other neurological related diseases. The band of pro musicians who play at these events call themselves The Fifth Dementia. They are all solo musicians, studio musicians, composers, etc. Our friend and client, Steve Tyrell, sang a few jazz standards; the audience was made up of a cross-section of people, many sufferers and their caregivers, and many, like ourselves who just wanted to be supportive. There was a fabulous selection of music and stories, and everyone sang along. I was so moved by it all, and seeing the power of music in real time brought tears to my eyes. It was at The Brentwood Presbyterian Church, where they hold regular gatherings. It seems that in so many cases, although people are losing their cognitive skills, music brings them right back into focus and they can remember all the words of the songs. Amazing, isn’t it? Evidently music is the first thing to become active, and the last thing to go. Thank God for music."

Terese Grotius McKannan
Printed from the blog of M. Dianne Berry:

Terese Grotius McKannan, long-time veteran musician and singer has it better than some these days when it comes to landing music jobs. At a time when there is so much hype on competition, television contests, getting a record deal, or even regularly working in one's hometown, she is in high demand within the senior communities.
As a teenager who grew up in the 60's, she was highly influenced by her mother, Najla Macksoud Grotius, who was a singer and pianist for one of USO's first '40's entertaining groups during WW2 while professor-father and drama director Robert Grotius encouraged them to put a little theatre into the act. Terese and the other five Grotius siblings rehearsed with their mother's instrumental backup, tight harmonies, and snappy delivery which also launched their professional music careers.
Terese began her own career in high school and gradually expanded her repertoire till she was booked in popular piano bars. With her lively presentation and remarkable ability to engage audiences with familiar TV show themes and commercials, she kept the night clubbers awake as they asked for more. Before long, she was working the plush hotels, piano bars, clubs, and restaurants, both locally and across the states while moonlighting. Though between the traveling gigs she took a few brief jobs in the mainstream work force, she always came back to playing music.
Now getting older has its perks as there will always be the elders whose needs include more than good health care. They need to be entertained, wooed by the sounds of their time, emotionally taking them away from the mundane and melancholy. Terese decided to give back to our parents' generation by dedicating a 45 minute program to a few nursing facilities. They loved her! With her letters of introduction to many more senior venues, some photographs and some resume of her musical career, calls began to roll in. It wasn't long before she nearly had more than she could handle. But she was happy. Happy because she was doing something she always knew and loved and could do it full time while care-giving her own mother.
She delivers a punchy medley of national and state anthems. Among them are:
"God Bless America," "Back Home Again In Indiana," "California Here I Come," "Georgia," and many others. She also performs show tunes like "Cabaret," "Hello Dolly," and "Moulin Rouge." The best of the Beatles also roused the memories of those who raised their own children of the 60's making it easy to smile, cry, and sing along. The icing on the cake is the love and endearment she has with the residents who attend her programs.
"I become very close to many of these wonderful people, Terese reports . "I've spoken with some notables as well. Like Bettie Engelbrecht, whose dance team performed with Debbie Reynolds in the movie, "Singing In The Rain." Marilyn Durham, and author of "The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing."
Terese was honored. She tears up when telling about her chat with holocaust survivor Veronika Federowska Samila who jumped off a train while in transit toward Auschwitz to escape her eventual brief encampment. (Compassionate as well, Terese makes a point to see their extended families whenever a resident passes away.)
She lives in Evansville and and serves nearly all local facilities, and more frequently at Newburgh Healthcare, The Heritage, The Protestant Home, and others.
If you want to hear a few sound clips, I'm afraid she's old fashioned, doesn't mess with the computer and needs me to speak on her behalf since she's my sister! Terese would like to invite anyone to come to one of her events. To request a list of upcoming gigs, you can email me directly: Subject: (RantingsFromRiverBayBlog)


Friday, October 21  -   Evansville's Downtown Main Street (between 3rd & 4th Streets) will be closed for a celebration!

Outside the Gift Box owners, Joe and Tracy  Klemczewski along with HOT96 FM radio, are hosting "The Main (Street) Event" with musician Will Champlin, a star from the NBC tv series "The Voice," along with Factor Primo.

4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. FREE to the public - please spread the word (more info about the event will be on my next blog)

Peace & Love,

Lanea Stagg
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Twitter: @RecipeRecords and @LaneaStagg

1 comment:

M Dianne Grotius Berry said...

I've a feeling you know a thing or two! This is so well written and relatable.
Thank you for taking the time to check out some SUNG but low-keyed heroes. I am quite proud of my sister who gets to share her talent for those who are between worlds.
How much closer to heaven is that?

You're a blessing, Lanea. Thank you.

Terese Grotius McKannan and M. Dianne Berry!~