Did you know that Michelle Obama’s maternal grandfather was an audiophile?
In the early chapters of “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, I found out that he wired the house, in the south side of Chicago, from top to bottom, for music. “He put speakers in every room, including the bathroom. In the dining room, he built an elaborate cabinet system to hold his stereo equipment, much of it scavenged at yard sales. He had two mismatched turntables plus a rickety old reel-to-reel tape player and shelves packed with records he’d collected over many years.”
Everyone in the family had to talk loudly over whatever he put on the stereo, because the music always dominated. Michelle’s family celebrated most major life events at his house which meant that over the years they unwrapped Christmas presents to Ella Fitzgerald and blew out birthday candles to Coltrane.
“According to my mother, as a younger man he made a point of pumping jazz into his seven children, often. He would wake everyone at sunrise by playing one of his records at full blast. His love for music was infectious. I’d pass whole afternoons at his house, pulling albums from the shelf at random and putting them on his stereo, each one its own immersing adventure. Even though I was small, he put no restrictions on what I could touch. He’d later buy me my first album, Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book, which I’d keep at his house on a special shelf he designated for my favorite records.”