Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Firecracker of a Lady

In her campus studio.
 Yesterday I attended the funeral of the fabulous Janie Thompson.
And it was a wonderful celebration of a life that impacted thousands.
I was one of those.
Janie was our mentor and teacher.
Though she never married, she always said she had hundreds of children.
She called us "Janie's Kids."
Janie was the pioneer and founder of all the touring groups at BYU.
Among these she created the Young Ambassadors
(of which I was a member)
and the Living Legends
(formerly known as The Lamanite Generation.)

Janie with the legendary singer Tony Bennett,
with whom she sang and toured in the
U.S. Defense Department Big Band.

I first met Janie the summer before my freshman year at BYU.
I was working as a counselor for BYU Academy for Girls
and made friends with some girls who had sung in a production of hers.
I had always wanted to meet her as I grew up hearing stories of her talents
from my parents. 
(Back in the day when she started the BYU Program Bureau, my dad had
been invited to be a member of a a popular campus trio and had declined
the offer as he was busy working on his master's degree.
That trio went on to become the famous group
The Lettermen.)

 Janie Thompson collection

I still remember walking into her studio in the old Social Hall
and seeing wall-to-wall and ceiling black and white photos
of all the performers and students she had worked with
throughout her life.
I immediately liked her warmth and dynamic personality. 
During my college years I had the opportunity to learn from her in classes,
workshops and even some one-on-one coaching while I sang
with BYU Vocal Jazz and the YA's.
She was a fabulous pop singer and master show director.
A bundle of energy who never seemed to wear out.
In fact, she was working on a show and even accompanying a program
the week she had her accident and died at age 91.

James Roh/Daily Herald

One of the many valuable lessons I learned from Janie was that we should be unselfish
and willing to share the gifts and talents we have been given from God.
We were given them for a reason.
(Sometimes, I let my shyness and insecurities take over
and I forget that.)

I greatly admire her example and especially her service and unwavering 
faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ.

I have no doubt she is already directing a grand production in heaven
with thousands lined up to audition.

to read a nice article about Janie.