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Book Excerpts

Trudy Pitts: Extraordinary Pianist & Master of the Hammond B-3

By Published: August 14, 2012
More zingers. They spar a few more rounds. Then Trudy abruptly turns her attention back to me. She hums a few bars, then reads the lyrics to her new song, "What Happened To Yesterday."

"Oh Trudy, it's beautiful. Simply gorgeous. I love it."

"You think so? You like it? You know Pheralyn, it's just like we're some kind of spiritual sisters. We relate on so many spiritual levels. You with your writing, your poetry. Me with my music. Both of us with our families. You know there's something special about this thing we got going on." "Yeah, Trudy, we're soul sisters. I mean spiritual sisters. No, I mean sacred sisters. You know what I mean, we're sacred soul sisters. Hey, I think I just made a poem. 'Sacred. Soul. Sisters.' We ought to perform that. We ought to perform your 'Yesterday' song and my 'Sacred Soul' poem on stage. You at the piano. Me at the mic."

"Then let's do it."

"Ok Trudy. That's a promise. I 'm going to produce the show myself. We'll call it 'Celebrating 25 Years of Friendship.' No, no, no. I got it. We'll call it: 'Sacred Soul Sisters: Celebrating 25 Years of Sisterhood.' Don't worry, I'll take care of everything."

"Pheralyn we've been saying for years we were going to do something together. We may as well do it now."

A few months later, in September of 2009, after many rehearsals and writing and allowing the spirit to move us, and banning Mr. C from the process and then allowing Mr. C to critique us, we took center stage at the Ethical Society on Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, amongst a crowded room of family, friends and admirers. "Sacred Soul Sisters" was born. The collaboration came to life. What an amazing experience....and all from a simple late night phone call. It all started out with us reminiscing.

Love and Laughter: The Essence of Trudy Pitts

Talk about reminiscing. Yesterday, there was a ravishing full moon. It was the night of the lunar eclipse. I couldn't resist taking a moonlight jog. All the while I was running around St. Joe's track, I found myself reminiscing about all the fun times I've had with Trudy over these years. About how we laugh every time we get together. (We even laughed that day coming down the steps of Pinn Memorial Baptist Church, right after Sid Simmons' funeral.) And speaking about funerals—I remember how honored I was when Trudy entrusted me to write her mother's obituary, how I had it published in The Tribune.

When I think about Trudy, I think about how when we're with Mr. C, he always manages to find a way to treat us to something good to eat. Something forbidden and tasty and soulful. You know—something like fried chicken smothered in onions and gravy, with macaroni and cheese and collards on the side, and a gigantic slice of sweet potato pie with a dollop of whipped cream for dessert. Or that time he made that huge roast beef and brought it to the club, how he seasoned it with all that garlic the way he does, how he sliced it up so juicy and luscious.

Then there was the night of Trudy's spectacular performance on the pipe organ at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., with her sidemen, Greg Osby
Greg Osby
Greg Osby
on alto and Mr. C on drums. Afterwards, at the hotel's restaurant, Mr. C ordered our dinners and got us started on our first round of drinks. Then he politely excused himself and went back to the room, so Trudy, L'Tanya and I could get our "girlfriend time" in. Lord, have mercy! We drank ourselves silly and closed the bar down that night. When I think about Trudy, I think about her warmth, her bright colors and bold outfits. When I think about Trudy, I think about her smile, her laugh, her verve for life, and how that verve translates into her dynamic art for living. What a blessing it is to have a bond so tight we both know we'll take each others' secrets to our graves.

Trudy Pitts—Live at the Great American Music HallYeah, yesterday I whirled around during the middle of one of my laps, faced the moon, burst out laughing and kept running backwards, amused at how light I felt, tickled about how I was thinking about Trudy and laughing, and running, and admiring the wonders of the full moon. But that was yesterday.

Today, I was walking up Chestnut Street, window shopping, admiring all of the holiday displays, as I made my way to an appointment. I came upon a miniature baby grand piano, the centerpiece amidst an arrangement of several other tiny musical instruments. Immediately I thought how Trudy would love it, how it would make the perfect Christmas gift. And then I remembered how I didn't get a chance to give Trudy her Christmas gift last year, and won't be giving her a gift this year either. Because she's gone. She's passed away.

As I stood there, I thought back to right after she transitioned, when I stayed up all night writing her obituary, praying for the right words to come. I didn't know what to say, but after a while, I got into the flow—just wrote honestly about her life. I assuaged my grief by relaying some of the information she had shared with me through the years:

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