03 Dec Senior in Action – Barbara Morrison
Marilee Marrero Stefenhagen
Former County of LA Public Library Administrator is having the time of her life as a retiree; meeting fascinating people who are active seniors, and volunteering for Soroptimist International of Norwalk and other women’s groups.
Senior in Action – Barbara Morrison
“Do you know what is the most serious disease in the world? LONELINESS. When there’s no chance to interact, it makes you feel useless. I am 71 years young. People my age just want to be noticed. I think it’s great that Not Born Yesterday features “Seniors in Action“ to motivate people not to be couch potatoes. I just read an article, “Why Some People Don’t Want to be Hugged.” As we get older, we can’t drive, can’t drink this, can’t eat that… too many CAN’Ts. We need to focus on what we CAN do. Think positive. Be kind. When I am traveling and can’t speak the language, my smile communicates whatever I need. Your facial expression will let people see your art.”
“My parents met when Dad heard my mother singing in a nightclub. But he was sent to the Korean conflict. When he was discharged, he found my mom and me. Dad worked for General Motors, and Mom was a nurse. I am the oldest of six siblings. I babysat my siblings and taught all of them the alphabet. Since I was 7 years old, I’ve performed as a singer. I recorded my first appearance on radio in Detroit, Michigan at the age of 10. My father told me, “I want to be a singer like you.” When I received a college scholarship, Dad told me to take the scholarship and be a role model to my siblings. I attended Eastern Michigan University. All of my siblings graduated from college. My younger sister is a City Treasurer in Michigan, my baby brother is a Commission Officer in Florida, and my baby sister is Head of Immigration in Texas. The entire family has diabetes but we help each other. My parents have passed, as well as two brothers and one sister. I’m the oldest living person in my family, with relatives spread across the U.S. in California, Michigan, Florida and Texas because my grandmother had 23 children.”
“At age 25, I sought a divorce. My dad told me, “You used your own mind and you took responsibility.” I was the only one in my family to divorce, but it saved my life. “Use whoever you can to reach your goals, but don’t misuse nobody. Don’t be slick or sly.” I’ve lived with that advice from Dad all my life. I have performed as a singer all over the world, Tokyo, Paris, France, Italy, Spain, Africa. My publicist calls me a “Jazz & Blues Legend” and I am proud to have been a featured vocalist on two Grammy Award-nominated albums, and my Blue Lady Records company produced my third Grammy Award-nominated album. Carnegie Hall is my favorite venue. I played Carnegie Hall then performed in Dunfermline, Scotland at the original Carnegie Hall with an 18-piece band. Those experiences inspired me to build a performance hall and I established a nonprofit foundation to accomplish my vision.”
“I founded The Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center, and am President of the California Jazz & Blues Museum. At the Performing Arts Center, we have a school that has served 3500 kids across Los Angeles who can’t afford to get performing arts instruction. We teach them how to play instruments. I bought streaming equipment so we can still create Jazz and Blues music during the pandemic. Artists can put their donation button on screen and continue to make money despite being unable to do live concerts. The 3rd Annual California Jazz & Blues Museum Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Concert, recently held on September 16, 2020 at The Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center, was a virtual fundraiser for our new up and coming 21,000 square-foot facility, the California Jazz & Blues Museum and Performing Arts Complex, which will be located at 4299 Leimert Boulevard at 43rd Street in Leimert Park, CA. We have outgrown our former 2,000 square foot space, and now it is time for expansion. The space where there was once an auto repair shop, a dry cleaner and a gas station, will now be converted into a Performing Arts Complex. We are hopeful, given the current pandemic, that we might be able to open sometime in 2021.”
“I stay busy! On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I teach music via Zoom as a UCLA Adjunct Associate Professor in the Global Jazz Studies/Ethnomusicology Department. Additionally, I perform and teach Jazz and Blues Masters Classes at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, and at Columbia College in Sonora, CA. Abroad I teach Master Classes at the University of Sydney in Australia and St. Mary’s College in Edinburgh, Scotland. “
“People are curious how I became a double amputee. I lost my first leg after a woman ran a stop sign and hit me. The accident caused such serious leg injuries and infection that doctors could not save it. At age 42, I learned that I had adult onset diabetes. I was totally in denial. I went to an audition on Melrose but could barely walk. Seeing an Urgent Care Clinic, I limped in. The doctor asked how long had I been diabetic? I replied, “I’m not diabetic.” The doctor was young. I thought, “What does she know?” I totally ignored her. A few days later, I fainted. The next doctor was older, so I listened. By the time I was 50, my toes were numb and turning black. A severe infection caused the loss of my second limb. When I turned 71, I was fitted with a prosthesis. Now I can drive again. I am off insulin. I walk every day and keep weekly doctor appointments. Ella Fitzgerald, Sister Rosetta Thorpe, Shirley Horn, Laverne Baker, and Clark Kelly, the famous trumpet player, were all double amputees and look at all they accomplished in their lives! Ella improvised after a fall on stage by singing, “If I fell for you.” I still love singing. I will be performing in a virtual livestream concert on December 5, courtesy of The Wallis Annenburg Center for the Performing Arts.”
In 2021 Morrison’s Blue Lady Records will release her latest album, “Warm and Cozy.” To learn more about Barbara Morrison please visit www.barbaramorrison.com
Network with Barbara Morrison on her Facebook page for The Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center at:
Barbara Morrison: Standing On Their Shoulders
ON DEMAND: Saturday, December 5, 2020, 8:00 PM
Launching The Wallis’ virtual Sorting Room Sessions, jazz and blues legend Barbara Morrison, named by NPR one of the “50 Greatest Jazz Vocalists,” displays her stunning two-and-a-half-octave range and rich, soulful, musical interpretations in Standing On Their Shoulders, a musical tribute to the iconic jazz and blues singers Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzgerald, and the songs they helped popularize. Over the course of her 61-year career, the three-time Grammy Award-nominee has performed with a virtual “Who’s Who” of the jazz and blues worlds, including Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Etta James, Johnny Otis, Nancy Wilson, Mel Tormé, Joe Williams, Tony Bennett and Keb’ Mo. In addition, Morrison has guest starred with the Count Basie Orchestra, the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra and Louie Bellson Band, among others.
TICKET PRICES AND INFORMATION:
$25.00 for each on demand single show per household for viewing on Smart TV, computer, smartphone or tablet
On Demand purchase includes a 24-hour window of access from 8:00 PM the evening of the performance until 7:59 PM the following day. Tickets cannot be transferred or shared.
310.746.4000 (Tue.-Fri. 9:30 am – 2:30 pm)