SMI Radio Ep. 41 On Demand: Musical Tribute to Judy Roth, Barbara Davis Roth and Jan Arthur Roth

A wise person once told me, “We make big plans and God just laughs.” This past Labor Day weekend, I was covering Bumbershoot 2011. Unlike 2010 the weather and temperature was absolutely stellar. I had a bunch of interviews lined up for my annual Bumbershoot special on SMI Radio. You can hear that episode here.

When I got home late on Saturday night, I received a cryptic e-mail from my mother’s husband, “Barbara is resting pretty well this evening.  They have taken an MRI and CT scan.  Hopefully in the morning I will have some better idea of what is going on.  She is non communicative but does respond to directions. Will keep you informed as I have additional info.”  Mom had a pretty serious opperation for a brain annurism a year prior. So obviously the thought of her in the hospital again this was very disoncerting so I called to get additional information but did not hear back from anyone right away.

On Day two on Sunday, In between catching some great live music, I was sitting in the press room laughing and enjoying the company of my media colleagues as we discussed some of the highlights of the weekend. Suddenly, I got a call from family saying that Mom was not doing ok and that she was not responding. I was right in the middle of Bumbershoot and had interviews lined up but was able to get away in the evening to visit my Mother at the hospital, my uncle, her brother was there – everyone else had gone. I sat with my mother as she lay unconscious. Mom did not look like she was doing well. My heart sank and everything seemed to go dark. We would have to wait for an update from the Doctor on Monday to get more information, holding out hope, that like all the times before that mom would be ok.

I did finish covering the rest of Bumbershoot with a very heavy heart. I will not go into a lot of detail here but  will say that three weeks later Mom would lose her battle and pass on from the comfort of her home surrounded by friends and family on Sunday, September 25th. Suddenly, writing articles, conducting interviews and producing a radio show seemed very insignificant.

Losing loved ones is the hardest things one can go through in life. My birth mother Judy succumbed to cancer when I was 10. She was only 31 years old. My dad remarried Barbara a couple years later. She adopted us when I was 13 in case anything happened to my father. It is almost as if my first mother had hand picked her to take care of us and that she did. I feel very fortunate to have had 2 mothers that loved me and my brothers with all of their heart.

A couple weeks later my father went into the hospital for a procedure for heart arrhythmia. He had struggled with diabetes and heart issues for several years and was on dialysis since 2006. He seemed to be doing better. We had even talked about visiting he and his lovely wife Rita after Thanksgiving once he was out of the hospital. The last time we spoke I told him about the Tower of Power concert that my fiancé took me to for my belated birthday present. We talked about some of the great horn music that I grew up listening to and shared musical experiences. It would the last time we spoke about a week after that conversation later my father would unexpectedly pass away on Sunday morning on November 13th… 7 weeks after my Mother Barbara died. We did end up flying out to Florida in November but it was not to visit my father and his wife, it was for his memorial.

I was still processing the loss of my Mother, to then suddenly lose my Father was just too much. Summoning the energy to write about music and do a radio show has been difficult. Losing friends and loved ones changes one’s perspective about what is truly important.

That said, music has and is always the happy place that I go to when experiencing pain and loss. For me music is God’s medicine for healing a wounded soul. My parents loved music, all kinds of music…everything from rock, folk, jazz to Broadway show tunes. Music was always on in our house. We were raised on a steady diet of Louis Armstrong, Stan Getz, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Simon and Garfunkel, Carol King, James Taylor and so much more. My Mother and Father’s record collection was a rich musical menu… an invariable smorgasbord. We never went hungry.

My mother and father were both musicians and singers. My father’s parents were classically trained musicians as were their parents. I am a musician and so are my brothers. When life has beaten me down music has always been there to pick me back up dust me off and send my on my way to face more of life’s challenges.

My life is richer and full of light and color because of music. I am blessed and grateful to have had parents that loved music and shared it with us. The music that I grew up listening to shaped me and helped define who I am and inspires me to do what it is I do today. I hope you enjoy this very special episode of SMI Radio.

This will was a very self indulgent episode but doing this show is part of my healing process for me and I hope that you enjoy some great music in the process.

Thank you Mom’s and Pop. I will miss you for the rest of my days but you continue to live inside of me and when I hear songs that you loved, know that is you I am thinking about with love and appreciation.


Not only is he a multi-media journalist, he is also an accomplished musician. He is the founder of SMI and drives the creative look, feel and branding for the publication. His years of writing, arranging, and performing live music in a variety of genres inform his ability to communicate the message and the mechanics of music. Roth’s work on SMI reflects his philosophy that music is the universal language, and builds community. He believes it has the power to unite people of every race, religion, gender, and persuasion.