From Guantanamera to Sunny

This post originally appeared on my Medium account on April 25, 2016 


The machine sat in the corner, dark and silent most days.

It was ginormous to this little girl. So many letters and words on its face. I didn’t understand them all unless I pushed the buttons.

The buttons were magical. One letter, one number and the machine would speak to me.

No. It would sing to me.

The Chi-Lites, Wild Cherry, Beach Boys, Three Dog Night, Carole King, Stevie Wonder, The Carpenters, Chicago, The Delfonics, The Jackson 5, The Temptations, The Sandpipers…

*** Wait, The Sandpipers? Yes, I used to know all of the words to Guantanamera.***

That big, scary machine taught me music. This machine taught me to sing, laugh, cry, other languages even. I thought it was magical.

Big, scary machine (aka The Jukebox)


The machine was a jukebox that my oldest sister won at the state fair. I loved how I could press the buttons and it would spin until it found my song. A little arm (what I called it) when then come up and around, grab the little record and place it gently on the turntable.

What came next was my life-long love affair with music.

The music back then stirred something in me. I tapped into emotions of love, joy, humor, sadness, anger, broken-heartedness and through it all, there was passion.

Passion in music moves me. It helps me find the words that I cannot seem to utter in spoken form. I find who I am at my core when the passion of music plays.

I’ve become more discerning since my jukebox days. I don’t listen to just anyone. Perfect pitch is fine for some. Evoke passion and connection to the words of a song and I’ll bypass a flat or sharp note. Show me the words matter to you beyond the note on the page and I’m all in.

My sister still has that jukebox. I secretly hope she’ll give it to me one day (hint, hint, Big Sis). For it is from that machine that I learned to appreciate all genres of music. R&B, Pop, Rock, Folk, Country, Soul, Disco…I’ve grown to love music of all kinds.

Thanks to that machine…that once big, old, scary machine…I can sing. I sing to my Spotify playlist or to my Pandora station in the car. I sing when there are no words to speak.

To paraphrase perhaps the greatest song ever written— the title just so happens to be my namesake, “Sunny” by Bobby Hebb (Bias? ME???).

You gave to me your all and all

Now I feel ten feet tall

Music…I love you

When there’s a song named after you (in my world, it’s named after me specifically), you can’t go wrong with music. 

Music stirs my soul like nothing else. It completes me. 

UPDATE: I still don’t have possession of the jukebox, but music is still my love. And, after a long hiatus, I might start singing again. 


Prayers Up, Knees Down,