A Tailor’s Journey With Her Taylor
Before I fell in Love with music, I was a skilled tailor by trade. As a young girl, I watched my mother sew with thread and needle. I tried my hand and found I was skilled. By sixth grade, I was designing the medieval costumes for school plays and continued to take fashion and seamstress courses in high school. After graduation, to make ends meet, I tailored for various local seamstress shops and even at Abraham and Strauss.
After several years, I grew restless sitting at a sewing machine all day. I hoped for an out and got one a few months after my new job at a fine ladies dress shop. I altered very expensive clothing and was very stressed. One day, a month into my stint at a fine ladies dress shop, I was working on a suit. My mind drifted. I wasn’t paying attention to the heat of my iron. To my horror, the iron touched the lining of the suit’s sleeve and melted a noticeable hole. My supervisor discovered it the next day and I was fired.
I became very depressed and for over a year, I languished directionless and unmotivated, going to different neighborhoods for garden work and leaf raking. It was a very difficult and uncreative time, but I had to pay my rent. I prayed to God for a miracle and knew that He had something very special for me.
In 1989, I befriended a talented guitar player who asked me to front his Christian heavy metal/hard rock band. Chris liked my voice and I ended up writing lyrics for him and his drummer. We fell in love, soon discovered we had some differences and less than a year later, we broke up. The band also fell apart.
Time healed our wounds. Chris and I resumed our friendship and he has remained my long-time song-writing partner, contributing greatly to my recorded songs. he is one of the most creative lead guitarists I’ve ever worked with.
Fast forward, a few years later, a surprising and unexpected door opened! My friend and spiritual mother and I were enjoying a crisp, fall day at the Collingswood Auction flea market. We were searching the small stores for treasures. At one store, she noticed a handsome, pony-tailed guy eying something in a counter. “Mom” Winnie tapped him on the shoulder and asked him if he was a guitar player.
“I’m helping my friend find a suitable guitarist to accompany her for her gigs,” she explained.
Jeff was so gracious and asked her if I had any music he could buy. He followed us to my car where I had a copy of my first, recently printed CD, “I’ll Fly High”. Then we exchanged numbers. Imagine my surprise when I arrived home and found his message on my answering machine!
“That voice! That voice” he gloated. I called him.
“With that gorgeous voice you need to be accompanying your own self on guitar,” Jeff urged.
The next week, Jeff came over with his guitar, sat me down and showed me the fingerings of a few basic chords. He urged me to get comfortable with it and play every day.
By the end of the week, I’d fallen in love with his guitar. Two weeks later, I wrote my first song, an acoustic ballad, Receive.” A month later, I felt confident enough to play my own guitar at a church coffeehouse and a woman even accepted the Lord as her Savior at the end of the concert as we prayed together! People responded so well to my voice, that I bought a jazz chord book so I could experiment with different chords. I wrote “Basket Case” a week later!
Jeff was so impressed that he planned to take me on a shopping spree for my own guitar. We made plans to visit Nothing New Music store, Lakehurst, NJ, Taylor guitars were advertised. When the owner, Ken Sturcke. offered to show his three Taylors he wanted to sell, Jeff’s eyes lit up. He was especially impressed by a certain model because of her rich-bodied tome and cherry wood. After playing a few more leads, Jeff smiled, “Well that settles it, Ken, Anita’s gonna take this Taylor.”
I balked at the list price, but Ken said he would give me a great deal on the Taylor.
“Your angelic voice must be accompanied by this Taylor,” Ken assured me.
I was so excited, I knew this was a God thing! Ken prayed with me that God would bless my artistry and ministry with the Taylor. I knew in my heart that we’d soon be making wonderful history.with her. When I got home, I pondered the sudden timeliness of purchasing such an expensive thing as a guitar, I knew God would make a way for me to pay for her…and He was faithful
Within a month, I had the full thousand dollars. I didn’t even have to pay for the seventy-five dollars tax because I served with a non-profit organization. Our executive director said that my singing/ministering was a part of the organization ministry.
I’ll never forget that day I walked out of Ken’s store with my exquisite Taylor. The following year, I was continually inspired to write new songs, experimenting along the way with the unique jazz chords I’d found in my book. The Taylor kept up her true tuning despite humidity and the cold. My Taylor was so well-crafted that I never suffered the embarrassment of an out-of-tune guitar at the start of my set. My Taylor continued to give me excellent, service for all my gigs as well as funeral/wake service.
Fast forward again, a few years later, I had to make an impromptu visit to a friend who was dying of cancer. I’d just came home from grocery shopping and had left my Taylor outside, next to the rear of my car. After dusk, I hurried to start my car and proceeded to back out. Each time I tried to go in reverse, the car would stop. Something was caught by the wheel. As I tried backing out the third time, I suddenly remembered I’d left my Taylor outside. When I got out of my car, I shrieked in horror. The top part of the Taylor’s case was mangled! I almost passed as I bent down to take a closer look. I felt weak with shock as I gingerly opened the case to inspect the damage. The upper neck was in bad shape. Tears fell from my eyes as I ran back to my apartment to call my boyfriend about the terrible news. He calmed me down and then I called my pastor. He prayed with me that the Taylor was not so badly damaged that she couldn’t be played again.
I called Ken, told him what had happened with my Taylor. He suggested a friend who owned a luthier shop in Toms River. I brought the Taylor to Paul Unkert and he said the Taylor was repairable. He couldn’t guarantee that she’d stay in tune, but he would do the best he could. It turned out that the truss rod had not been damaged.
My Taylor had another accident again, about three years ago. She was in her case, standing vertical. The case just fell over, slamming violently to the floor. Again, the upper neck came apart. Again, Paul Unkert came to rescue and again, Amazingly, The Taylor still kept her tune!
Soon after the Taylor’s second accident and repair, I fell ill with a mysterious condition which affected my neurological system. Fearful, my husband and I saw a doctor who diagnosed me with Dystonia. He had no idea what caused it nor a cure to give me relief. My neck & throat muscles pulled and twitched violently. I made strange-looking facial grimaces and was exhausted by mid-day. I lost all interest in socializing, my hobbies, eating, song-writing and gigging. The Dystonia also affected my mouth, teeth and tongue. I felt like a freak. I was always anxious that at any moment, my teeth would comp down hard on my tongue and I’d be a bleeding mess.I was miserable!
I forced myself to leave the house and make something of my life. I ended up visiting the elderly, ailing and handicapped seniors at Buttonwood Hospital. I found when I made the sacrifice, I was so rewarded giving joy and music to those suffering more than me! Amazingly, when I sang with her, my tremors lessened!
Dystonia has been vicious to me, often robbing me of creativity, motivation and joy BUT God…has always provided me with strength and hope each day as I continue to seek a cure and restore my former life. There’s no room for bitterness or resentment when I see people in worse shape. God is my strength and I live moment by moment, one day at a time.
As I continued struggling with my symptoms, the beautiful Taylor seems to take on her own voice. Often, I’m in such distress I can’t stop crying. I’d suddenly stop as lyrics flowed through my mind. I grabbed my Taylor and wrote beautiful laments-songs, sometimes within 15 minutes! From this painful year came enough material for a my first worship Psalms CD, “The Anointing.”
“I’ve Come Here To Worship” is one such song that unendurable;e pain inspired me to write. Weeping is always followed by praise and worship when I acquiesce to His presence and get out of my self! Many more songs have come from this place of suffering.
My Taylor possesses another special quality: a magnetic attraction to nature and wildlife. One such episode was when I stopped to relax on a park bench in Marine Park, Red Bank, NJ for some solitude.I faced the undulating, peaceful Navesink river, The skies were blue with puffy white clouds. I noticed a school of fish congregating to where I was. At first, I thought it was coincidence that they lingered right there in front of me. Every time I stopped playing to take a short break, they swan away. As soon as they heard the strains of my voice and guitar, they floated back towards me. It was pretty amazing! I felt like the Pied Piper. Birds and dragon flies are also prone to linger whenever I play and sing.
The most transcendent episode with my Taylor though, has been when I had to minister at a funeral service. She accompanied me at the bedside of a my husband’s best friend’s dying father. I sang amazing Grace and my Psalm 91 and encouraged him not to be afraid of where he was going. I felt like Monica of “Touched By an Angel’
“Do you know how much God loves you,” I tenderly whispered to Claude’s father as I held his hand.
He died a few days later and I was asked to sing a song for his memorial service. I sang Psalm 91 again.
When my husband and I arrived at the Catholic church, we were surprised to find out the cantor had not even expected me to sing. Nonetheless, God gave me favor and the cantor told me where I would be in the program. As I walked to the podium to sing my solo. I noticed the sublime ambiance of the stain-glassed surroundings of the church. My pristine soprano reverberated and I felt like an angel singing glory to God. After the service, family and friends met at the banquet hall nearby. When I went to the ladies room, I noticed a woman pulling my husband aside. When I met him at our table, he told me the woman was an old family friend and had to tell him something.
“I must tell you that your wife has a beautiful voice… the voice of an angel My gift is seeing into the supernatural realm. As your wife was singing,I saw cherubim gathered around her shoulder. They were dancing gleefully and celebrating!”
I was very surpassed to hear that from my husband but it made sense in light of the precious way, the Taylor and music entered my life. It was so extra-ordinary, no one could deny God’s hand in this magical and sublime gift. My Taylor and I were a mesmerizing pair! Another amazing thing is that no one in my family was a musician or had a calling for ministry.
At present I am without my Taylor. This spring’s unusual humidity caused my Taylor’s neck to come apart again, so she is waiting for a miracle. I’ve been performing and ministering with Jeff’s guitar and though she is wonderful sounding, nothing compares to my Taylor.
I’m praying to continue ministering at the hospitals, finish the recording of my “Anointing” Cd and to be ready when there is a need for people to come into God’s presence. I know I’m called to continue recording and performing the exquisite psalms my heavenly Father inspires me to write. I wait expectantly to see the next miracle with my Taylor!