Some years ago I became good friends with a woman who was an aspiring singer and songwriter. She performed with bands in bars and clubs in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Usually she was better than the bands who backed her, but built quite a following. As time went by, the bars would be packed with people who loved hearing her voice.
Barbara belonged to an internet based group for singers and songwriters looking for their big break. She was hoping against hope to one day sign a recording contract, but knew the chances were slim.
The internet group became somewhat close knit, and several of the people who frequented the group's chat forums took to talking privately outside the group. One of the men from the group seemed especially interested in Barbara's career and told her he would like to see her perform. He was in California but planned to come to Massachusetts that summer. He told her he was going to record an album on Martha's Vineyard, but to call him if she was interested in getting together while he was there.
He gave her a phone number, but after their internet chat that afternoon she realized she did not know his real name, only the name he used in the group. When she called the number, a woman answered. She was some kind of receptionist and answered by giving the name of a recording studio in Los Angeles. Not knowing what to do, she told him she was trying to reach someone but only knew his online user name. The woman laughed and said she was expecting her call and would transfer her to the party in question. Barbara stopped her and asked if she could possibly tell her the name of the person she was calling.
"Kenny. Don't feel bad. He never tells anyone his name online."
Barbara decided to wait until "Kenny" came to the phone. When he did, he told her he was very glad she called and that he would have a couple of weeks before he began recording on Martha's Vineyard and that would be the best time to get together. Barbara paused and asked, "Okay, who are you, really?" She was now openly suspicious of these circumstances. The man gave her the number for a recording studio and the receptionist knew immediately why she was calling. She suspected some kind of internet scam or hoax. She knew of many situations where people pretended to be someone they were not. She became more suspicious after he answered her question.
"Kenny Loggins. I'm sorry I didn't tell you who I was, but I like to keep a low profile talking to people on the internet."
Barbara laughed nervously and told him she wasn't sure whether to believe him or not. When he reiterated his desire to meet her for lunch and see her perform, she thought about hanging up. This had to be some kind of sick joke. Instead, she decided to accept the offer, thinking she would meet this joker and unmask him.
She went to the restaurant at the appointed time and waited fifteen minutes. He was running late and called her cell phone to ler her know. When he did arrive, he walked through the door to the restaurant, came over to her table and apologized again for being so late. He was, in fact, Kenny Loggins. He was going to be recording a follow up to his classic Return to Pooh Corner on Martha's Vineyard. Barbara could not understand why he would take time away from this project to meet her. She suspected for a moment he might be the kind of guy who arranged to meet women over the internet and took advantage of his status to woo them and take them back to his hotel room. Instead, she was treated to lunch by a man who offered her sound advice on the music industry and was genuinely interested in seeing her sing. He asked when she was scheduled to perform next. When she told him, he offered to change his schedule to make sure he could attend.
She asked him why he was so interested. This boggled her mind and she needed answers. Kenny Loggins told her he had always been interested in new talent trying to break through in the industry and that the internet had finally provided him with a tool through which he could anonymously offer advice and become friends with talented people who had never gotten their big break. He told her he tried to help people and doing so meant more to him than recording albums or performing live. For the rest of the afternoon, Barbara found herself enchanted by this polite gentleman who genuinely cared about people and wanted to make a difference. He seemed more like someone who considered his fame to be a gift that cost him anonymity rather than a star with a big ego. It was not the kind of thing she expected from someone who was a big name in the music industry.
He saw her perform as scheduled and afterwards gave her the names and telephone numbers of people he knew in the area who might take an interest in her aspirations. He told her to tell them he recommended she contact them. Barbara never did. She felt somehow strange about doing so and continued as she had for years, performing live and hoping to be noticed for her own talents and abilities. To call a record producer or talent scout and drop Kenny Loggins' name felt wrong. Instead she decided to always remember her meeting with Kenny as a memorable lunch and a night when she sang just for him.
I hope I remembered all the details of this true story correctly.
It has been more than seven years since Barbara told me the tale
and my memory has more holes than a golf course.