Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

Pinch Me! Did I See Alan & Marilyn Bergman, Quincy Jones and BARBRA STREISAND

Babs, was it you? Was it really you? Did I really stand just a few feet away from one of the fiercest entertainers of all time on Friday night?

I'll get to Babs in a minute because the night belonged to song writers Alan & Marilyn Bergman. I attended their tribute at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosted the event. That's right, THE Academy that gives out the Oscars. I heard about the event through my movie group at The Bergmans have penned countless songs for movies, television shows, plays and other productions.--"The Way We Were," "In the Heat of the Night," "The Windmills of Your Mind" from The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) and the theme song to Alice. And they wrote one of black folks' most beloved TV theme songs----Good Times. They are DYNOMITE! Sorry couldn't resist.

As I took in the evening I thought about how their work is part of the mold of American pop culture and the "American Songbook." They won three Oscars and have been working together for 52 years. Quincy Jones collaborated with the Bergmans on In the Heat of the Night scores. Jones emceed the event and recalled a time he asked Allan how was it working with his wife. Bergaman said to him, "What' s not better than doing something you love with someone you love." Aaahs filled the theater.

The best part of the night were the stories. Quincy Jones, the Bergmans and Babs work and hang out together. After decades in the business they have quite a few memories. One of my favorite stories told was how the Bergmans met Streisand. They were writing songs for a production in Paris. The show needed a female singer. The Bergman's listened to many girls sing but none were the right fit. They were ready to call it a wrap for the day when someone suggested they listen to the girl waiting downstairs. Marilyn protested. She was tired and didn't want to sit through another audition. Eventually she agreed to give the young girl a listen. I believe the girl was 18 at the time. It was Barbra Streisand. Her voice left Marilyn in tears. Later, Marilyn went to visit Streisand in her dressing room. Streisand told the audience the dressing room was tiny and she shared it with comedian Phyllis Dillard. Yeah, I laughed too when she said Phyllis Dillard. Anyway, Marilyn walked up to her and said, "Do you know how wonderful you are?" Streisand bumbled over her answer because she didn't really know how to respond to the praise. Streisand said she's done over 50 songs with the Bergmans and told the audience she eventually wants to make an album covering their songs.

Back to my joy over seeing Babs....
After the ceremony a crowd surrounded Streisand and her husband. They were seated in the 5th or 6th row. I waited for the crowd to disperse, stood by one of the exit curtains because I figured out where they would probably leave. I'm a journalist, I know these things. I was literally 2 rows away from where Streisand was leaving. No one was around me. My camera was ready for the shot of a lifetime. Here she comes....I wish this security guard would move. Ooh, she did move. That Secret stuff does work....Just a few more steps Barbra and I can snap the shot. Oooh, rigth, there....... NOW. "Sorry Ma'am no pictures." The usher stopped me. I was a few feet away from Barbra! It would've been the shot that I would rub in my mom's face and show my grandchildren. That was the shot I would discuss with people at wine parties. That was supposed to be my special shot just for me. She's not someone you can get near easily and the usher ruined it. Now, normally I would've snapped the camera real quick. But, being that I was one of maybe 6 black people at the ceremony ( that includes Quincy Jones and Patti Austin) and I was in Beverly Hills, I decided not to take the picture. Oh well, at least I got to see Babs in person. I only spent $5 for the tickets. One of the best $5 bucks I've ever spent.

1. 2008 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards
Celebrity Wonder. com
3. Me in front of an Oscar


  1. Pleased to see that you had a great time and thanks for blogging about your experience with SCMF (

    BustAGroove AKA Maria

  2. That's so cool! I wish the meetup events in DC were that cool. Maybe I need to find a better group. LOL

  3. Oh, what a great, moving post! Brad Elterman, who shot a lot of celebs for over 30 years, shot nearly a roll of Barbra and myself years ago, backstage at the Forum. He sent the roll of film overseas. I never saw it. I am still saddened.

    I chose my name, Jenny, after hearing her sing "Jenny Rebecca." (and "Pirate Jenny" from "Threepenny Opera.").

    I SAW Barbra perform, Hollywood Bowl, with Harry Belafonte, Bill Cosby and Herb Alpert (also Jewish, cos it was during the 7 Day Israel War), July 17, 1968. Midnight, a solo light, a small halo around her face, sitting on a tall stool and not a dry eye in the place. I was 17 and had to take several buses to be there. Soooo memorable!

  4. @Bust A Groove--Thanks for visiting Cocoa Fly. I'm looking forward to the next meetup.

    @Erika--Next time you're in LA, I'll try and take you to a cool meetup event. You need to find a meetup group that can get you into the White House. Hit up their next poetry night :)

    @Jenny Lens--Much thanks for your sharing your stories. That concert at the Hollywood must have been amazing. I'm sorry that roll of film with you and Streisand was lost. That hurts. I took a photo with Jay Leno on the Tonight Show set when I was a kid, and I never saw it. It was supposed to be sent, but we never received it. Memories are important.

  5. Wow so close and it was all spoiled by a quick thinking security guard. I hope you'll have another opportunity to see her again, and get a good picture of her.


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