I met Brian at a recording session at Skyline Studios. The session was set up for me through my publishing company, Peer Southern, to record the end theme song I wrote that got placed in the ABC Halloween Special, “The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t” starring Judd Hirsch and Mariette Hartley.

The musicians on this date was Brian on bass, Jim Satten on guitar and I think either Brian Brake or Buddy Williams on drums. Me, on piano. It was engineered by co-owner and engineer extraordinary, Paul Wickliffe.

On “Keep On Thinking” I can hear Brian’s pop and smack on his bass. It didn’t end there. At Skyline, Brian, Jim and so many others honored me by working on my demos but one song, “One and Only” got covered by The Ritchie Family.

Brian was killed on his motorcycle in 1981 before he could hear their release of this song. Unbeknownst to them but I caught it, they copped his bass lick on their RCA release as he did it on the demo.

I owe him for his support in and out of the studio. I dedicated my CD, “Home” to Brian.

With losing Phoebe Snow this week, I am reminded of another voice gone too soon. Luther Vandross.

I met Luther in 1976 through another singer, Tasha Thomas. She called me to let me know that a friend of hers was starting a singing group and offered to introduce us. Tasha was very generous towards me as I was making my transition from Broadway to a studio singer.

Luther was wonderful and his voice was more than I expected to hear. Yes, he wanted to start a singing group but I had other plans. I had just signed a contract to join a national tour of Godspell and I knew what would become of that job but I wasn’t so certain about staying in NYC and hoping to get a job to sing. That was my thinking at the time.

When I returned from the tour, I turned on the TV and heard David Bowie singing, “Young American” THEN I heard the backup singers…it was LUTHER and his singing group. Oh how I regretted for years doing Godspell rather than working with Luther.

In the years after that, we would run into each other. He always called me Zenobia Conkerite while I was trying to be just Zenobia. He made me laugh each time.

There was one session we sang on together that I will never forget. I was asked by Marc Shaiman of Bette Midler and “Hairspray” musical fame, to sing on a few of his demos. I arrived at the studio to see an old friend, Ula Hedwig who I was in HAiR with and there was Luther. Smiles and hugs all around.

When you’re in a session, it becomes clear pretty quickly who will be leading and arranging the vocals. Sometimes we share the duties because when you’re working with professionals, great input can help to create a significant piece of music. Luther was the leader. I’ve heard others comment on his skill in the studio and I got to witness it first hand. He was like a seamster, shaping the background vocals around the track that the lead singer laid down (recorded) earlier. In this case it was Marc’s co-writer Ina May Wool. An experience and song that I will never forget. Like Phoebe, Luther had no problem coming in to sing on a jingle…if he was available.

In late 1999 or early 2000, I was in Las Vegas and heard the DJ announce Luther’s passing. I got on the phone immediately and called Janice Pendarvis, a friend of Luther’s who sang with him, and asked her if it was true. She told me (this is not verbatim) that she just saw him, like moments before and that he was alive. I called up the local DJ and set him straight.

Then a year or so later, Luther had the stroke. Janice and other friends went to visit him, bringing good cheer. She was looking forward to visiting with him again. Then it happened for real. Luther died weeks later in 2005.

His funeral took place at The Riverside Church of New York on the upper Westside of Manhattan.

I sat next to Janice and David Spinozza. Will Lee and Arnold McCuller sat in front of us. It was a solemn and at times awkward. We were happy to see each other but not in this situation.

As they carried Luther’s coffin into the sanctuary, a song blew into the air, voices like angels started. I can’t tell you what the song was or who even was singing it but it was for sure a time for joyful tears as our friend and colleague finally made it home.

This past week, we lost a colleague whose voice moved millions. In my humbled opinion, Phoebe Snow was, humble.

In the ’70’s, while I was singing all over Manhattan (NYC) in various clubs, cabarets and recording studios, I was also working with friends and musicians who were working with her. Some people along the streets of the West Village thought I was her. At that time, we both had curly hair, similar facial tones and glasses BUT I sounded nothing like Phoebe.

With each song she sang, I felt inspired to keep writing and singing. And while she became famous, could sing pretty much any style of music and even while taking care of her daughter, Valerie, on occasion she was invited to sing on commercials and showed up ready to bring it on.

Before I became a producer at Young & Rubicam ad agency, I was asked to call Phoebe to arrange for a car to pick her up at her New Jersey home and bring her to the recording studio. She was delightful to speak to.

It wasn’t until years later, 2006, one year before her daughter died, that we finally met. Seeing her out and amongst her peers and friends was heartwarming. Her voice will live on. You will be missed Phoebe.

If you’ve never heard of Kenny White, you might want to check him out. He’s not a pop star, though maybe he should be, he’s not young nor would he ever be a contestant on American Idol. He’s a songsmith. His tales of love, loss, curiosities and more left me speechless last week when he performed at The Cooperage.

I met Kenny when he was composing jingles for a NYC music house, Crushing. On staff there would be many other writers ready at the word, ‘go’, who would provide advertising clients’ radio and TV commercials with music to satisfy the soul, I mean, to inspire consumers to go out and buy their products. (another conversation for another time). And it made for more stress as they also had to compete against each other for the same job allowing the winner to get residuals for singing on their own song tracks and receiving arranger/composer fees. I know because I was one of them working in different music houses.

Kenny was one of the steadfast writers for Crushing, I can’t recall working with him. After reconnecting last week at The Cooperage, I wish I had. There’s something to say about maturity, life experiences. The last time I saw Kenny was in NYC. He had long, dark, curly hair. Kenny now has short and gray hair. To me, a sign that life is moving along just fine and I get to share that with him through his words.

Kenny looks back at relationships, feelings and experiences and at times I could hear giggles from his ABQ fans. I even heard myself in giggle at his stories. I am glad that I can say all of this while Kenny’s with us rather than looking back after he’s gone.

This last line was prompted by the loss of one of our colleagues this week: Phoebe Snow.

Do check Kenny White out when you can.

After my debut CD, “Home” in 2000, it never occurred to me to write a second one. As “Home” was dedicated to my mother who was battling pancreatic cancer, I rushed to get that production up and running before she left. With the Grammy nominations, I did not feel the urge to create more music. Within the next 10 years since its release, I had a creative block so bad that I could no longer sing, much less write a song. I gave in to the belief that it was over for me. This – coming from someone who used to write a song per week and was in the recording studio every week for one project or another. I stood in the grief of losing my mother and then my job.

In 2006, I attempted to write two songs that were statements about my spirituality, “Om Shanti” and the other dedicated to abused children like Nixzmary Brown, “My Name.” I recorded “My Name” but it didn’t feel comfortable to me in the manner all other songs had. So I did nothing with it though I still believe in its message.

Then in 2010 something happened. Something broke. I saw myself stepping aside and without much of that old writer’s judgment, I wrote the song that would lift me up: “Looking Up” inspired by the book, “How Starbucks Saved My Life.” The book was written by a man who was fired from his ad agency job, the same ad agency I was fired from and at the same age but maybe a few years apart. We loved our work so much that upon being laid off, though at first we were optimistic about the possibilities, we hit our bottoms…in different ways of course. You can read his book and find out what happened to him and his family, but I closed down completely.

Each of us had to stretch way beyond our comfort zones in order to live in this world. He found a job at Starbucks, made amends to his family and himself. I started having feelings other than anger and fear. I met a woman at a poetry reading, friendly, she wanted to know about me. I told her about how I moved across the country, which I believed saved my life. She listened, then paused. Then said that I experienced a resurrection. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and it was then that I realized the title for my new music project. I found my inner voice, my writing ability, the fire that once was there resurface. “Resurrection” will celebrate my life, the wonderment, the love and more. Stay tuned to my website: MusicByZenobia.com, for updates as I am in production.