Donor Spotlight: Maryanne Siek
November 13, 2020
Meet Maryanne, a uniquely talented donor who volunteers her time as well as financial resources. Maryanne grew up with the music of the Songbook and is passionate about its preservation. She has been volunteering with the GASF for three years, sharing her professional skills with the organization.
Hello Maryanne and thank you for your commitment to the Great American Songbook Foundation. I know you’ve been a volunteer and a donor for several years; what does the Great American Songbook and its preservation mean to you?
This is the music I grew up with and that continues to play constantly in my mind. That inner soundtrack affects how I experience life and is part of what makes me me. Most of this music was created prior to my birth. I’m so glad it was there for me to discover at an early age, and I'd like to ensure that future generations have the same opportunity.
Why do you think it’s important to preserve the artifacts of the Songbook?
The Songbook captures the American experience during the first half of the 20th Century, and as such it contributes to our understanding of this period.
It’s more than just a history textbook, though. The Songbook’s themes tend to be universal, the lyrics well-crafted, and the melodies memorable. Then again, sometimes it’s just plain fun and even silly! Either way, this is music that expresses what it means to be human and does so in an appealing and accessible way.
How did you first learn about the Great American Songbook Foundation?
I’m not sure how I first learned about the Foundation. It may have been through Michael Feinstein’s website. I first came to know about him from—of all things—a profile in Forbes magazine back in the ‘90s. From that point on, he’s been my hero for the work he’s doing to preserve and communicate about the Songbook.
How would you describe the Songbook Foundation archives and music library to someone who hasn’t visited?
It’s a cliché to say the archives and music library bring the Songbook to life, but it’s true! In addition to the obvious research benefits of gathering recordings, musical scores, sheet music, and other artifacts in one place, this is a unique resource that connects you to the people who wrote and performed this music. When you see a handwritten Gershwin manuscript or touch Jimmy Durante’s hat (as I was able to do!), you experience them as actual people instead of abstract historical figures.
What motivated you to become a volunteer and donor to the Songbook Foundation?
The company I used to work for has a “service learning” program that supports employee time off to volunteer at any non-profit organization. In addition, the company makes a cash donation to the non-profit upon completion of the project. I thought, “What if…” and I contacted the Foundation. It all happened from there; for the past three years I’ve traveled from my home in Arizona to Carmel for a week. Due to the pandemic this year, I couldn’t make the trip—but I’ll be helping out remotely!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
There are many ways for someone like me, who loves music but lives far from Indiana, to support the Songbook Foundation. My profession is records management (the business—not vinyl—variety), and archivist Lisa Lobdell immediately saw value in my ability to help them create a system for managing the Songbook Foundation’s business records. It just goes to show that anyone who’s interested can find a way to contribute.
Maryanne, thank you so much for sharing a bit about your
experience as a donor.
We appreciate your passion for the
Songbook and teaching it to future generations.