*** This is the 2nd blog in a series of interviews with baby boomers who are pursuing their dreams. For more, visit my webpage.
I met Annette Stellick at my first apartment complex in Florida. She was working in the property management office and as these things so often go when two kindred spirits meet, we started talking about our plans to pursue the things we really wanted to do. The last time we met was at a Panera near my new apartment where we promised to keep in touch and help each other along our path to finding professional fulfillment.
So Annette, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Where do I begin to tell a story of a girl from Wisconsin? I distinctly remember a time in grade school when my third grade teacher asked me to come up to the chalk board to answer some problems. The only problem with this was I wasn't sure what subject we were on. I was literally up amongst the clouds. I turned to my school mate and asked her what subject we were on. She looked at me strangely and replied, "We are on Math, geez. Where have you been?" After some (similar) incidents, I was told I was slow and had to go to a "special class" for part of the day.
It's a terrible thing to be young and have your confidence shattered, isn't it?
Yes it is, but there was a nun that we worked with who started to notice that I had been catching on very quickly and didn't seem to need the help that the others needed. She had a theory that maybe I just liked the one on one attention I was receiving. Since I would finish early with the school work, she began asking me to go ahead and spend the rest of the class time writing short stories. I am thankful to that kind teacher to this day, and I am also thankful that I was placed in the "dumb class" as this gave me a gift, a confirmation that I could write something that someone thought was worth reading.
Let's talk about your music. When I last saw you, just before you left for Nashville, you mentioned you had a music publishing deal. How did you become interested in music?
I started to play percussion in my senior year. After I was in band for a few months I was asked to go to the advanced band with a teacher called Mr. Vavor. A teacher with a disposition such as his might as well have been named Darth! He (had a reputation as being) one of the most eccentric and temperamental teachers in school. I passed on being moved to the "upper band" but I still had a great experience with my classmates as we went on to win the state medal for a percussion ensemble that year.
More naysayers. How did you overcome that?
I met my husband, Rodney Drac Gibson, in Minneapolis. What a character he was! His total unique "strangeness" soon had me falling in love with him. We were from two completely different worlds yet our minds and goals were much alike. My parents were not too thrilled with their youngest daughter being with a musician, and someone who was not the same race as me. They didn't look at who he was, they only looked at the fear of what they thought my life would be. I was taking a path that was risky and not at all what they imagined or wanted for their daughter.
Yes, my parents were a bit like that. Instead of encouraging me to follow my dreams, they focused on job security. They wanted me and my siblings to take the safe, well travelled path. How did you overcome that?
During that time, my fear would cripple me, until one evening when Rodney heard me sing as we were driving in the car and asked, "Why in the world don't you sing in front of people and what are you so afraid of?"
It was that moment in the car when I realized he was right and decided that I should not try to stay away from opportunities presented to me just because of fear. Do it afraid! And when I did, the fear went away.
Do it afraid! I like that. And you did do it, right?
Yes, and as we pursued music together, we received a Grammy nomination and Dove nominations for a band called "DOC". I helped with writing and ideas, and sang. My husband did (all) this as well as rapping on the tracks and developing/producing the band. Also producing on this project was our friend Tedd Tjornhom, who we have now joined forces with once again. They are both brilliant producers. The songs that they collaborate on are dynamic and unique.
I also worked in sales with various companies in property leasing and management. I went into the more conventional fields after I became pregnant with our first child. I was not sure how to handle raising children and going to auditions. I just was not that organized! I wanted as much time with my children as I could get. I figured they grow up too fast, and then it's too late. During this time, my husband and I formed a band called the "Funky Vadican". We played in various clubs such as First Avenue in Minneapolis. We started to build a good reputation. The newspaper reviews and audiences compared us to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Eyed Peas.
So what happened next? How did you end up in the property management office in South Florida where I met you?
In 2001 the music industry took a big hit after the destruction of the twin towers. The independent labels were no longer able to survive and production projects were hard to come by. We had decided to diversify and start a business with production in video and web marketing. Later, after having produced several TV commercials, we made the big move to sunny Florida.
Florida was not exactly the promised land, we were hit with many hardships. But with much effort we did cultivate relationships with video industry professionals. During this six year time frame, I worked for another property management company. It was not what I wanted to do, it actually felt like a jail sentence. But we all have a bottom line. I had to keep telling myself it was temporary.
And now here you are, back in Nashville pursuing your dreams once again.
In October 2014, we moved to Nashville with a publishing deal that also included writing deals for our aspiring children who had impressed the publishers with songs they had submitted throughout the previous year. I am very excited that at this moment I am able, along with my family, to write songs for artists and major labels while cultivating my own career as an artist. With the great writing styles and musicianship of our family, along with the production of Tedd T and my husband, we expect the songs to be released in 2015 which should start us back on track to the Grammys once again.
Despite my parents' decision to give into their fears, twenty three years later we have three amazing kids and they have now decided to follow in the risky business of their parents. I didn't plan on this, I thought someone in our family would have chosen a normal career, but I didn't put those desires or talents there, God did.
I don't care what age one might feel is appropriate for dream catching. If the dream is still inside you, what's stopping you from attaining it? Fear, discouragement, lack of a 401K? Maybe, just maybe, if you keep doing what you love and listen to that little, nagging voice inside, you just might make more money doing what you love than you would ever see staying at your "safe" job. It's OK to still dream. Dreams do not have an age requirement.
I couldn't have said it better myself, Annette. Thanks for sharing your story with us.
Annette is currently working on a website, but in the meantime you can connect with her through her music publisher R1Way.
She is also planning to publish her first children's novel in the very near future, do some acting, and she and her husband are currently working on a sitcom. She is one busy lady, proving it is never too late to pursue your dreams.