Weekend Update and What’s in a Name…

For some reason that question has been in the forefront of my mind lately.  What is in a name after all?  Well, if you have a last name like Kennedy it probably means that people will tend to associate you with a rather long line of famous people. It may even give you an extra edge if you decide to pursue politics.  If your last name is Hitler, I’m sure it was hard for you to make friends growing up and if your last name is Kardashian…well you get my drift.  So, what’s in a name like Gilmore?  I know it’s of Scottish and/or Irish origin (my mother said I must take after the Scots the way I’ve always been so drawn to the sound of bagpipes). I know there aren’t any super famous Gilmore’s out there, but according to Wikipedia there are several notables. I am not on it, I checked.  Apparently my music/photography/book are not yet deemed in the notable category (ohhhh one day…).  There is however, that guy, y’know that murderer guy in the 70’s.  He’s on the notable list.  We’re not related, but I remember my brother Michael having some fun going around scaring the kids at school into thinking we were related to him.  I don’t think we’re directly related to anyone on the notable list, but I’m curious where in my bloodline the inherent love of music comes from. I’m even more curious since both my parents were born with the last name Gilmore.  No, they traced back as far as they could go and no relation, but somewhere along the line they told us we were of the Clan Morrison (though they were and consequently we were raised Catholic).  They didn’t even grow up together.  Mom was born and raised in Michigan near Detroit and my dad, in the teeny town of Havre, Montana.  They only discovered they had the same last name after my father braved up, crossed the long stretch of a dance floor in Spokane, Washington one night during a town mixer and long after they’d danced and flirted.  Mom said she didn’t even hear him tell his name.  She was just enjoying the dance and that he’d noticed her.  I even asked him once, I think it was their 25th wedding anniversary dinner and I’d asked him if he remembered what she was wearing that night and he stared at me for the longest time.  I know some in the room were thinking I’d ruined the spirit of the evening with a setup Q like that, but he waited, then spoke as if he were reciting it from a manifest “It was a red, button up sweater with a matching skirt”.  My dad is so smart 😉

So, these two Gilmore’s fall in love, get married, settled into the Seattle area with seven little Gilmore’s (5 boys, 2 girls) and do their best to bring us up to be proud of our name and our family and to do it proud as well.  I remember when I was younger and thinking of a career in acting I’d announced that (like all famous actors) I was going to change my last name to something more suitable and had chosen my maternal Grandmother’s, LeDuc.  Sucha  cool name I thought.  I was all set until my mother told me that my father was really hurt by it and didn’t understand why I didn’t want to be famous as a Gilmore. I love and admire my dad to this day so I dropped the idea then and there.  Instead I shortened my name to Ali (from Alicia) which apparently annoyed my mother to no end, but hey.  When you go on about how proud we should be of our heritage and you name every other child in the family to suit it: David, Christopher, Dennis, Shannon, Michael, Edward…you can expect the last one with a name of Spanish origin (and the only blonde) might be feeling a bit like the odd (wo)man out.  I’m just saying…

Both my parents loved music, but my father studied it in college, even taught it for a while and had just about every instrument in the house:  a baby grande piano, an upright piano, cello, violin, flute, clarinet, trombone, trumpet (Yup, cousin Laine, you grew up in the wrong household I think).  Sadly, not one instrument took, to any of us seven.  Some of us took piano lessons here and there and some were in high school band, but that was about it.  My passion was singing.  That’s what I loved and that’s what I did all through high school and college.  Musicals, Jazz and I dabbled in classical until I was nearly laughed off the stage during a recital.  My voice was so not meant for classical.  My father however was in the glee club at Gonzaga and he definitely had the voice for it.  I remember going to some of their reunions where they’d perform at Sunday mass and the sheer power of the culmination of their voices I thought would shatter the stain glass windows.  It would resonate against your chest bone and make you believe in something much bigger than yourself.  So, that’s it.  My Pop and me.  As far as I knew, none of my cousins in New Mexico or Michigan were pursuing a life in music either.  When I was an early teen though, my mom told me about how her absent father had married again (her mother died in childbirth and he left shortly after – long story, so no judging) and had more children.  One of those children had three daughters and one of them was in a band.  Whooooaaa the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.  She proceeded to pull out a newspaper clipping that showed my cousin Laine, posing with her band in front of a gas station in some far off place called Casenovia, NY.  Not only did I have more family out there, but they were New Yorkers, how cool~  I remember looking at the pic and thinking she looked like a rock star (no idea where the pic is, but the search is on and when we find it, I’ll add it to the facebook music page), like Pat Benatar and that being a very plain Jane myself it never occurred to me that

Laine Gilmore of Cazenovia, NY

Couldn’t find the garage pic, but this one just surfaced…
Photo by: Kathleen Danley

something like that was in reach.  I think I was pretty much of the belief (back then) that were only so many allotments per family and she got the one for rock star.  I didn’t mind.  She clearly had the je ne sais quoi for it.  Besides, I preferred the anonymity of being in a quartet and harmonizing to someone else’s lead (which is another way of saying Uh, I mean to do that).

Other than the occasional story or photo my mom shared with me, I never really knew Laine or her sisters growing up, but through the magic of facebook we’re all connecting and it’s pretty cool I must say.  Her sister Louanne has done in-depth research on the family line of Gilmore and one day will publish the scandalous tale.  At least I hope there’s something juicy in there~  So, the other day I was having a hard time focusing on work (yes, it happens often) when it popped into my head…I wonder how many Gilmore’s are out there on Twitter that are involved in music?  We can’t be the only Singer/Songwriter hopefuls?  Maybe in that big vast bloodline there are more fellow cousins (by cause) that I could relate to?  So, on a whim (which is how I do most everything) I did a search on Twitter for people with last name Gilmore who had the word music in their description.  Turns out there were plenty~  It was pretty cool to see.  Even cooler when some of them started following me back and even responding to my little experiment in musical genealogy.  Apparently we have one Irving S. Gilmore that the Yale Music Library is named after (he is NOT on Wikipedia’s list of notable Gilmore’s and YES, I do feel better) and several Indie’s out there like me who write music, sing, study dance and other aspects of the arts.  I’m pretty psyched by this discovery of talent in the fold I must say.  Something tells me there will be more stories to come under the tag “Gilmore”.  Can’t wait to see/hear them all unfold…

Till then, go on, google your family name.  Give a look see of who else out there shares your name as well as your passion.  You might be surprised at what you discover…

Thanks as always for following along.  More to come~

 

‘ali