The lovely Ann Gaynor of Asbury Park left us this week, May 8, 2010, at the age of 82.
Ann sang in churches her whole life and in the last ten joined the Ruth Carr Chorus of Asbury Tower, where she sang solos as well.
She sang at birthday parties at the Tower, when they had live entertainment, usually supplied by the talented Ted O'Connell.
One day a new fella, named Bob Egan, sat in for Ted. When Ann took the mic and in a low voice softly requested her song and the key she preferred, then launched into "God Bless the Child", it was plain to all that Bob had fallen in love.
Ann never got to see Bob's handsome face because glaucoma had robbed her sight. Never mind, Ann would say, I can tell by his voice that he's a good looking fella.
With a bit of coaxing, some of us got Ann to visit her new friend one Sunday at Moonstruck where one is likely to find Bob playing the keys and hosting an open mic. The result was magic.
Open mic situations generally are not known for quiet respectful audiences. They're more likely to be buzzing with excited chatter about everything from the food to the next selection they want to pull from Bob's books of lyrics. "Can you do "Suddenly Seymour", from Little Shop..."
But when this lady got up to sing, you could hear a cat purr. No one spoke, whether Ann was filling the room with "The Nearness of You", or "At Last", or "Summertime"...in arrangements that rivaled the best singers at The Carlyle, or the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel.
And another thing about open mics, they have to accommodate a lot of hams that want to get their two songs in before the night's over. But, in Ann's case, the audience would not let her sit down. Pretty soon someone would call out, "Stormy Weather" or another favorite of Ann's. When Ann ended her set it was always to moans of "more", then thundering applause.
So one Sunday Ann said, "Did you say I'm a professional now?" "Yes," said Bob, "you blow this room away."
"Well then," said Miss Gaynor with an air only she could pull off, "I think I better get paid."
Instantly, a fella ran up and planted a single in her palm. Everyone stood and put their hands together for Miss Ann Gaynor. A star was born whose brilliance now will reign forever.