It’s been a very long time since I’ve written in my blog. I have decided that writing each month with nothing to say wasn’t satisfactory for me. When I did have something to say, it was really a personal reflection that may or may not have anything to do with the entertainment industry.
So, I have taken to write less and less. However, I want to take time to remember an important person that many people in my class at Northside School of the Arts have mentioned lately in the news, for instance, Erika Girardi aka Erika Jayne from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and RuPaul which are both graduates of Northside High School.
My story comes into view in the summer of 1988 when my parents and I were on vacation in Atlanta. My parents are from Newnan and Franklin, GA and we would come every summer on vacation. This summer, my dad was retiring from the military as Command Sergeant Major (CSM) with the 4×4 field artillery with 27 years of experience, and he was moving back home to Georgia from Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.
I loved to audition and was taking voice lessons from Mrs. Doris Lambert from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma and piano from Yuki Walker from my hometown. I had an interest in drama and was in Bye Bye Birdie as Rosie in the 8th grade at Tomlinson Jr. High School. I had brought my 24 Italian Arias with me on vacation.
My dad was on the phone and mentioned to me that I needed to leave now for an audition at Northside School of the Arts. My dad, CSM (Ret) Artie C. Geter, had talked to his friend, Judge Clarence Thomas, and he said that I should audition for that school. Dad called the school and they were leaving for Europe that very day and I needed to get there now before they left for Europe to audition since we were leaving back to Oklahoma and wouldn’t get back in time to audition for enrollment.
We left in a hurry and I decided to sing two songs: “Alma del Core” by Antonio Caldara. I don’t remember the other song. I auditioned before Mr. Densmore and all the kids that were leaving for Europe in the chorus room that day. I got some hand claps from the kids and left. Later, I found out that I had gotten into the school.
This was the best thing that my dad had done for me. Later, I asked him why did he decide to retire before my senior year in high school since I was with my friends from kindergarten to junior year. I wanted my dad to apologize, but he refused. My dad refused to apologize for anything and said that this was the best thing that he could have done for me, and he was right.
I look back at this with acquaintances and friends from this school and hear about the great things we are still doing years later: Travis Payne, choreographer for Michael and Janet Jackson before MJ’s passing; Erika Girardi aka Erika Jayne who at 35 created her alter ego that would contribute to nine #1 hit singles and a stint on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and Elaine Hendrix, actress in television and films including many wonderful professionals across the world.
I heart my friends back in Oklahoma including Will Shields, retired Guard for the Kansas City Chiefs who invited me to his induction into the Football Hall of Fame, and James Trapp (my high school crush) who earned the Super Bowl ring from the Baltimore Ravens in 2000 and won a gold medal in the Olympics in 1993 for the 200 meter dash in 20.60 seconds including many friends from my hometown.
I had the best of both worlds: football players in choir in Oklahoma (Will Shields) and a great pre professional artistic experience at a high achieving performance arts school.
The last time that I saw Mr. Densmore was at my ten year class reunion in 1999 (yes, we partied to the song by Prince, RIP, especially me).
However, Mr. Densmore would say that he was going to die. Mr. Densmore contracted the HIV virus that causes AIDS. The ten year class reunion would be the last time that I would see him.
I did see Erika Girardi in a commercial flight from NYC with her mom and son who was about ten to twelve years old at the time with my parents returning to Georgia in 2005. I had graduated from NYU and we mentioned about life goals then. She was thinking about going back to school or doing something more with her life (of course, it wouldn’t be school but a music career); I would see Travis Payne at the 10 and 20 year class reunion and in the DVD of This Is It tour video before Michael Jackson died, RIP; I saw Elaine Hendrix in a play in 2010 while I was visiting and auditioning in voice overs, going to the VOICE convention in Beverly Hills and auditioning for film auditions at the time.
I now teach as a choral director and music educator at the DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts. The DeKalb School of the Arts and DESA will merge together as one school, P-12 as a performance magnet school in about five to seven years.
Mr. Billy Densmore, RIP, would be proud of his high achieving students. We remember and pay our tributes to him. I hope that he’s looking at us fondly. Mr. Densmore definitely had an influence on our lives. We contribute much of our training and success as a reflection today because of him.