Rommie, an Inspiration

2008-2009 Club 100 Board

My long time friend, Rommie, is an inspiration.

Her journey began in the early 2000’s when she joined the Club 100 of the Music Center in Los Angeles, a support group whose main function is a once a year community outreach event in the form of a fair with different booths where special needs students of the community can experience the wonderful world of music. As she describes the Club 100, they are women of a certain age, economic and culturally privileged, who want to give back to the community by supporting the music center.

After joining, she discovered that many of the women liked to sing. Those so inclined, got together and sang around the piano, played by another new member – a talented music and acting coach. These women really loved the experience, so they kept at it! Soon they had a repertoire. They performed choral style at Music Center functions and enjoyed it immensely. As they became more cohesive and increased their repertoire, they needed a name for their group: “The Songbirds.”

Some of the women retained their membership in Club 100, others dropped out to just be Songbirds. There are about 18 members now. And they have “outfits” – all black clothing with the only adornment, a man’s style silver spangled neck tie. They have a manager who books the act, a vocal coach/music director, and strict rules.

Anyone who misses 2 practices before a gig, can’t perform: always be on time or you can’t perform: and pay your share of expenses on time. As for expenses: each member pays an equal share for their musical coach. Their own time and gasoline is donated.

Their gigs? Mostly retirement homes or hospitals, gratis of course. The Songbirds range in age from their mid sixties to mid seventies, and often they perform before people who are close to their own age. But their audiences are truly grateful to be entertained. A recent innovation has proved to be a wonderful addition to the act. During their performance, they move through the room among the audience and each sings directly to a retiree while holding his or her hand.

At an appearance at the Veteran’s Hospital, they witnessed the terrible injuries of war among the survivors. When Rommie told me about this experience it brought tears to her eyes. “So many people today, who don’t have a service man or woman in their family, are completely isolated from the tragedy of war. But being there amidst the wounded, it became very real! As she described how much her contribution helps other people, again she shed tears of sympathy and joy. It’s wonderful that she loves what she does.

If that’s not inspiring, what is?