Saturday, June 24, 2006

Grammys 2005 and dreams really do come true

I once saw an interview with director David Lynch and I remember him saying that he pursues what he loves and the money follows. Well I've pretty much lived my life like that - pursuing what I love and as far as the money - I can't say that I've gotten rich being a photographer - but I'm comfortable and I'm thankful for that. I can say that my profession has led to some of my dreams coming true.

Last year one such dream did come true - I went to the Grammys. Now anybody can buy a ticket and go to the grammys - but I was invited to the luncheon where that year's lifetime achievement recipients were being honored. How I got to go is kind of a long story, but the short version is that I had gotten to know legendary blues musician Pinetop Perkins and his manager Pat Morgan. I met Pat and Pinetop a few years back when I was interviewing and photographing Pinetop as part of a personal project that I was doing on the Delta Bluesmen

Back in 2003 I spent a memorable day with Pinetop at Hopsens Plantation in Clarksdale, MS. Pinetop worked at Hopsen's back in the 1940's and in fact that's where he met and taught Ike Turner how to play the piano. But's that's another story. The "documentary angels" were by my side that day, because I captured some priceless moments with Pinetop both on video tape and on digital stills. But I digress to give you a bit of background.

Fast forward to 2005 when I got a call from a producer at the grammys who was putting together short bio videos on the award recipients. He contacted me because he knew that I had good material on Pinetop. I was interested in a quid pro quo arrangement - usage of my footage in exchange for an invitation to the luncheon for myself and my husband. He agreed. So in February 2005 Tom and I flew out to LA. We arrived at LAX during the onslaught of a deluge of rain - got in our car and made our way to the old Biltmore Hotel in downtown LA. What should have been a 40 minute drive - lasted about two hours. We finally arrived at the hotel and my nasty mood changed as soon as I saw my friend Pat waiting in the drive up. We had a quick bite and talked about the next day's event. In addition to attending the luncheon - I had also made arrangements to shoot interviews with Ike Turner, Kim Wilson and Paul Oscher. But again that's another story.

Grammy day arrived and Tom and I were excited beyond belief. The luncheon was held in the grand ballroom of the old Biltmore - that's the room where the first Academy Awards ceremony had been held. The hall that leads to the ballroom is lined with wonderful old photos of past events. Looking at those historic photos and soaking up that history was a treat in itself. I had been told that "cameras" weren't allowed inside the ballroom - but that didn't stop me from making a last minute purchase of a throw away camera at the hotel gift store - which I cleverly concealed in my pocketbook. I wasn't trying to sneak off photos to the tabloids - I just wanted some snapshots of Tom and I at the grammys.

We arrived at the door of the grand ballroom and were given our table number. Imagine our excitement when we found out that we had been seated at the front row of tables along with the honorees! There we were sitting next to Pinetop Perkins, Ike Turner, Elvin Bishop, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and a host of other legends in the music business. I'm not the sort of person who gets starstruck near celebrities - however I've always had great admiration for musicians and their talents. To me the gift of music is one of life's greatest gifts. It's the universal language and can transend all emotions. It can energize, pacify, excite, enrage and sooth our souls - sometimes all in the same song. And I am in awe of the talents of musicians that have the ability to perform this magic.

The afternoon was a blur of excitement and emotions as each honoree came to the stage to receive their award. It's a day I will never forget. And I have a few "snapshots" to help me remember. The pictures are certainly not "portfolio" material and far from being technically perfect but they were taken with the purest of heart - to remember and preserve the moment. To me - that's what photography is all about.

So I share those "moments" with you below.

Jerry Lee, Gail and Pinetop Perkins (left)

Ike Turner, Gail and Pinetop Perkins (top)

Pinetop Perkins, Gail and Elvin Bishop (left)

Sam the Sham with Tom (right)

Gail and Jimmy Page (left)

That day in February one of my dreams did come true. I still hold onto other dreams - I won't
tell you what they are right now. But I'll let you know when they come true.


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