A Real MusicianPosted: September 13, 2015
There are only two kinds of people: those who are and those who “wanna be”. Each one of us is a combination of an “is” and a “wanna-be”. I am many things, but I admire a truly good musician. I am, so my wife and my instructor tell me, a solid intermediate guitarist. They both encourage me when they note progress and advancement in my “chops.” But, I will never be a guitarist of the caliber of a Lindsey Buckingham, Nancy Wilson (of Heart), or The Edge to name just three Guitar Heroes. I will never come close. So, in terms of this category of people, i.e. musicians, I’m just a “wanna-be.” But I know someone who is truly a musician, my guitar instructor, and a family friend. Let me introduce you to Ann Herring.
Ann grew up in the Bay area. She grew up in a very musical family. Her father, Merritt Herring was a performing and recording artist during the folk music boom of the 1960s. He performed with Joan Baez and Pete Seger (in fact Pete Seger was Ann’s godfather) among many others. Her mother, a classical violinist, played in several symphonies as well a baroque ensembles.
In high school, Ann was already studying voice, music theory, and arrangement, and was singing professionally. She received a musical scholarship and attended Santa Cruz State University, and the Cabrillo School of Music (she holds a M.A in music). She specialized in vocal and music theory. Her first professional experiences were in the genres of jazz and funk. However, she began to miss the roots music of her youth. To reconnect, she began composing her own music and formed a band.
She also married at this time, and was blessed with two sons. Unfortunately, through no fault of her own, the marriage failed and she was left with the two sons to raise on her own. Her strong faith (Ann is a devout Roman Catholic) led her through both a personal medical crisis (which led to a coma), and the breakup of her marriage. Though a tenuous path, God led her into the music business as a single mother. She had initial success with a composition, “Hold on to Midnight.” With royalties, she purchased a farm in Rochester, Washington.
Ann then moved to Nashville. She was writing prolifically. Her band, with sons in tow, toured extensively. While in Nashville, she won songwriter of the year for her composition, “Keep on Rollin’”. At this time she, and her band Quarter Moon, opened for such names as Johnny Cash, Rodney Crowell, and Emmy Lou Harris. This led to a contract with a major label, but due to contract restrictions, she could not continue to home school her sons while touring. Through prayer, it was evident that her touring must come to an end. Ann placed her sons before career.
She and her sons entered “normal life.” Ann began to earn a living as a guitar and voice instructor, manager of a chiropractic office, horse trainer, and perform locally. Even locally, her great talent again brought her to the stage as a vocalist for the Fabulous Wailers.
It was during this time that I, and my two sons and wife, met Ann more than seven years ago. She brought the guitar and music to life for the three Williams men. She has encouraged and critiqued my own compositions. Though she could understandably decline, she has graced the presence of open mic performances with Janice (who has a great set of pipes herself), family friend David Qvamme (violin), and me in the little group, “The Mad Hatters”.
Ann has experienced and lived the dream of every musician. But, you will never encounter ego or attitude. She is patient, kind, humble (as all truly great people are), approachable, and self-giving. As Janice and I comment frequently, she is among the most genuine people we have ever met and know.
She continues to teach guitar privately, and well as music at Pierce College, Puyallup, Washington. She still performs locally. I will let Ann enter her own words at this point: “Music has been the consistent thread throughout my life. I thank God and my family for the opportunity and desire to express my life through music, and for all the lives I continue to connect with along the way!”
I, and my family, have been blessed to know such a truly wonderful woman – and a REAL musician!
Ann gives her consent – if you want a guitar instructor or voice coach, and live the Tacoma, Washington area, you may contact Ann Herring at firstname.lastname@example.org.