Music has tremendous power over me, but it came to me relatively late in life. My parents favored talk radio in the car, and tended to choose television over the stereo at home. Childhood piano lessons seemed to be more of an academic challenge than an avenue for fun and self-expression.
When I started volunteering at student radio station WXYC at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, my main interest was newscasting. I also picked up a DJ shift, however, and got a kick out of being turned on to a wide range of styles. I liked being in the know about the latest alternative sounds.
After finishing college, I took a string of small-town newspaper jobs, well outside the range of alternative radio stations. I couldn't bear the Top 40 of the time, and turned to Delta blues. I still remember the snap of recognition upon hearing Robert Johnson for the first time: So that's where rock 'n' roll came from!
I had become interested in a wide range of music, and in the evolution of that music. Visits to New Orleans helped me see music as a personal expression of the musicians. I observed that the same musician might play different genres of music, with a style recognizably his or her own. I learned to hear music as more than just an entertainment of the moment, but as an artistic perspective on how we live. When the music is good, I'm not interested in talking.