Song of My People

Rose & Marella Family


Zhan Marella Smith

My grandmother on my mother's side, Zhan Marella, was born and raised in Rochester, New York. My grandmother comes from a family of loud, opinionated, cooking, family loving, Italians. Her family did not play any instruments or sing. However, they loved to play their records around the house and listen to their favorite genre, Rock and Roll.

Drive In

A memory my grandmother shared with me, was in 1956 when Rock Around the Clock, came to the drive in theaters. All her friends showed up for the premier and sat on their cars waiting for the film to begin. The film opened with the famous Rock Around the Clock song, and all the girls stood up on their cars, in poodle skirts to dance and do the jitterbug as the film played. It was one of her favorite times listening to music!

Joy from Italy

O Sole Mio is an Italian folk song, that my grandmother always sings while she cooks. Because the song is in Italian, I couldn't understand what the song was about. My grandmother explained that the song was about joy being a brighter light in your life than any sadness. The song was composed in 1898, many years before my grandmother was alive, but her parents passed down the song to her by singing it to her every night before bed.

"I'm just a crazy grandmother that likes to dance!"


William Christopher Rose

My dad, Chris, was born in Arlington, TX and grew up in the neighboring cities. He refers to himself as a "Heinz 57 mix", meaning he is not only part Irish, but also part Cherokee Indian, German, and English. Growing up, his dad would spend time teaching him and his 2 younger brothers how to play the guitar. The radio was always on in the Rose house, playing 70's music like Casey and the Sunshine band, Commodores, and Lionel Richie.

Rush 1983

In 1983, the Texas Jam was held at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The popular 80’s band, Rush, was the headliner performing that evening for all of Central Texas. As my dad and his friends entered the stadium, they were approached by the event coordinators and asked to help work security for that night. Because Rush was my dad's favorite band at the time, he was ecstatic to find out he was security for the backstage area, just behind where Rush would be performing. Standing just a few feet away from the band, my dad experienced his greatest Rock & Roll memory!

Growing Up

In high school, my dad was apart of the Future Farmers of America, forcing him to listen to country music daily while roping pigs and cattle. At first, country music was not a familiar style for him and his 70’s music-loving family. Eventually, country became his favorite genre, and with it, a reminder of a memorable part of his life. Even today, when he hears Alabama or the Bellamy Brothers, it takes him back to the times he spent in the barns and at the rodeos!

Like most teenage boys with brothers in the 80's, the idea of a garageband was anything but genius!! My dad and his two younger brothers spent multiple hours in their hot garage practicing and performing their favorites like Breakin the Law by Judas Priest and artists' such as ACDC, Van Halen, Kiss, and Def Leppard.

One bittersweet memory tied to a song, was graduating from high school. The graduating class of 1984 at Grapevine High School's "song" was Good Times Roll by The Cars. The song explained how moving on and making new beginnings will be just as good as the old and memorable ones.

"Music is a thread that ties family and memories together."