Every Sunday Pop-Pop’s music would fill our house. Mom would turn up the stereo so that every closet and every corner could be touched by it; the sounds would resonate throughout every room to envelop my family in the warmth the music seemed to create. Regardless of where he was at the time he would visit through his music. He’d speak to me through the strings, the trombone, the saxophone, sometimes bringing Ella and Nat or others along. I felt his presence through his music; as I’ve grown I’ve come to know this as a remarkable quality of the experience of music and art. It can be a conduit for transcending time and space to connect us with the source of its creation in a very unique and intimate way.
This way of knowing his music would continue on throughout my childhood and beyond. But my perception would change at age six when I saw myGrandfather perform for the first time in Hackensack, NJ at the 40th Anniversary Celebration of Capitol Records. Seeing him up on stage with the fabulous Peggy Lee, adorned in a gorgeous sparkly gown complete with a feather boa, absolutely threw me for a loop. I remember sitting there mesmerized as I took in the performance and shared my Grandfather with Peggy Lee and what seemed to be the whole world at the time! As I looked around at the faces of the audience and experienced their enjoyment of this performance I began to understand the impact of his music on a grander scale. I began to truly grasp that it wasn’t only for my family and me to share between us; it was for everyone to feel and enjoy and, as a matter of fact, had been for quite some time. His identity shifted from my Pop-Pop to my Pop-Pop, Nelson Riddle.
26 years later, I’m so very happy to say that despite witnessing more of his performances and my highly increased understanding of the impact my Grandfather has had on American music, coupled of course with the fact that I’ve learned to share really well with others over the years, he still manages to visit with me whenever I want, on that same intimate level. All I have to do is play his music, and he is close. I run into him when I least expect it too when I walk into a shop or a café and I hear “him”. I just smile inside with that happy warm feeling that he has always given to me. His music is still such a prevalent part of our culture and will always be a joyful part of my life that I share with others.
- Danielle Acerra
(Nelson Riddle Appreciation Society “Nelson’s Notes” ARCHIVES, Fall 2008)
Danielle is an accomplished artist based just south of New York City. Her work can be found in galleries, at Target stores nationwide or online at www.DanielleAcerra.com