He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much: who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction. – Bessie Anderson Stanley
My daughter asked me when I arrived home, “mommy was it sad”? I responded that Ann’s memorial was a celebration of a life well lived. The loss of Ann is sad because of the crater left by her kindness and contribution to countless causes. She definitely made the world a better place…
My husband and I ventured out on a stormy Monday to fly to New York to a Memorial Service for Ann Ruckert, who passed away last October. It seemed against all odds that we would make it out of the Toronto Island airport when we could hardly get out of our laneway. Once we got to the airport you could just feel an incredible force of purpose for us to get there. Even on the Newark end, which was stormy, everything went incredibly smoothly. We were meant to be at Ann’s Memorial.
Ann was my friend and music coach. She is one of those people you meet for the first time and never forget her impact. She focused on you, heard you and then helped however she could. Her memorial was at the modern St. Peter’s Church on Lexington and 54th. The church was full of friends, students, musicians and industry.
Ann was a top jingle and studio singer and in the 70s, a backup singer for T. Tex and the Strabs. She also sang backups for Aretha Franklin and the Plasmatics. She was a music coordinator and founded the 13 Stories Record Label. Later she became an educator and activist for the music industry. She helped spearhead Grammy in the Schools and was a trustee of the Recording Academy. She served on the board of Jazzmobile and with the Songwriters Guild of America, founded ProShop. She worked on the board of World Hunger Year and helped establish the Jazz Foundation of America.
The service began with an overture and bass solo by the famous Ron Carter. You could hear his heart pouring out in his song. Ann always said he would play at her funeral. It was a delight to hear George Coleman (sax) play again, Mickey Bass on bass, Louis Hayes on drums, Mike Longo on piano, Jimmy Owens on trumpet and Bill Wurtzel on guitar. Ann’s “Ruckert Choir” (her students) sang “Until I see you again” with her student Regi Ransdell leading.
Tom Chapin (Harry’s brother) and Jon Cobert sang “Circle”. Suzanne Vega then sang “Horizon”. and Genie “Pepper”Swinson sang “Here’s to Life” a song that Shirley Horn made famous. George Wurzback sang a super funny song we all remember from Ann’s music series at the Red Lion… Jimmy Owens ended the evening with a wonderful trumpet solo. Roberta Flack left Ann a message that summarized her kindness and the light that Ann brought to Roberta’s life.
Before the memorial, I stopped to see my former producer Steve Addabbo at Shelter Island Sound. I got to see his new studio with a grand piano!!! Steve is a talented producer of many great artists (Suzanne Vega, Paula Cole, Shawn Colvin) and now he is about to launch his first solo record. I am so excited for him. I can’t wait to hear it! Check out www.shelterislandsound.com.
At the memorial I was able to catch up with some of my friends from when I studied with Ann — Brian Muni, Brendan Davies, Lisa Lost, Barrett Zinn, Kristen Thien, Michael Castaldo. The icing on the cake, was I even got to see Tony Conniff – another awesome songwriting teacher, artist and producer! What a trip…
Ann was my inspiration to start the Toronto Songwriting Guild. Now it has been going for 6 years… the gift keeps on giving!