The Life of Californian Centenarian Rose Becerra

By Kristina Munoz (her loving great niece)

AUNT ROSE 105 YEARS ALIVE THIS WEEK!

*Today’s post is about Aunt Rose, a woman who is truly a treasure! This was written by one of my favorite people in the whole world who happens to be a successful executive in the music business. This story is inspiring! Enjoy!

Aunt Rose at 21!

The eternally young Rose Becerra (a/k/a “Nina Rose” to my mom or my “Great Aunt Rose to me) shared some of her childhood memories with me as she often does when I spend time with her.  I am moved and always amazed and totally engaged as she has shared her life over the years.  I write this from memory to give a snapshot of this incredible, independent renaissance woman, she is 105 years old now and still living life and is a force of nature, all 4 feet 5 inches of her 😊.

My “Great” Aunt Rose (my Mom’s Aunt) was born in Durango, Mexico and moved to El Paso, Texas with her mother when she was four years old, that’s 101 years ago, which would take us back to the year 1920. Soon after they moved from Texas to Oregon to join her father who was working on the railroads there.  She recalls that they were far away from any towns, and that it was so remote that her mother, who was a teacher, taught her at home.  Back then they had to use an outhouse and a well for access to water due to the remote location of their home.  Her father could not read or write, and her mother had a college education which I imagine was not so common back in the 20’s for women, let alone Hispanic women.  When Aunt Rose was eight years old her family moved to Sacramento, California and she was placed in kindergarten with her younger brother. Not remembering how long it took, she recalls eventually that she was promoted into classes with children of her own age.  When she was in high school, she was the only student of Latino heritage, but she denies ever feeling any prejudices toward her from that time. 

Aunt Rose 34 and her daughters Erma and Olga

After high school she obtained her cosmetology license and began work as a hairdresser.  In 1946, she married at the age of 26 and moved to Los Angeles and has always loved “big city living” and can’t imagine living anywhere else!  (Go Dodgers!) Her new husband (back then) didn’t have much money and things were sometimes pretty tough but that never deterred her from enjoying life and being in gratitude for what she had and also shared with family & friends.  She recalls her first experiences of feeling like she was a minority occurred after she moved to Los Angeles.  She never told me the exact reasons why.

As time went on, she had three beautiful and adoring children and continued working at beauty salons where she had a loyal clientele.  Meanwhile, unfortunately, she realized her husband had “an eye for the ladies” and so she divorced him.  Aunt Rose had a low tolerance for deceit, disrespect and for not honoring the marriage vows, she is an honest and direct person.  Aunt Rose was single for a long while and traveled all over the world, when I say all over the world, I mean literally to countries I could never imagine going to. I estimate she has been to over 100 countries.  She was a fiercely independent and active woman always and she loves to be with people, eat and laugh along with being a world traveler.  Later on in she did have a live-in boyfriend eventually and that lasted for about 15 years, they remained in contact and he was good to the family.

Life is very different now then when Aunt Rose was a young person because of all the modern conveniences. Aunt Rose told me about her family having an ice box – which was just that, a box with ice inside that kept things cold.  She also remembers washing clothes by hand and hanging them to dry.   As for lighting, oil lamps were used back in the day of her youth and cites that they were really “a pain” she explains with a laugh at recalling these memories!

Aunt Rose was born 2 years after the end of World War 1 in 1918, and has lived through World War 2, Vietnam War, the devastating 9/11 terrorist attack on US soil, but the most significant event she said she 1st   witnessed was the bombing of Pearl Harbor as It it was America’s first time to be attacked by an enemy and that was very frightening for her, she recalls.  Her brother was in the Navy at the time, and he had joined with one of his best friends and they were both stationed in Hawaii.  While her brother was on an R and R break, the Japanese dropped the bomb on Pearl Harbor.  His best friend was killed, and her brother felt very guilty and sad that he was not there and that was extremely difficult for him after that happened, he was very hurt by this, and Rose remembers how sad it was for her beloved brother.  

Aunt Rose also has survived Covid-19 and did not get it, though several of her family members did get it and sadly, at 103 years old she lost her beloved youngest daughter and her son-in-law to Covid-19, and this crushed her and the family too. We were all so very worried about how this would affect her health, and though she is heartbroken at the untimely loss of her daughter, she continues to go forward and as she says, “What can I do except remember her with all my love and do my best to live and love my family that is still here with me”. She is such a strong woman and through it all she still keeps her positive attitude albeit this really affecting her, as you can imagine.

Though having lived through some very hard times in life, one time I asked her what was one of her favorite days she said, “One of them was October of 2000”. Her son had been married for a long time and was in his 40’s, Aunt Rose thought that he just probably wouldn’t have any children. Until one day he did!  She went to the hospital shortly after the baby was born and held her in her arms and was so thrilled.

She also shared about her dreams as a young woman. After graduating high school, she wanted to study nursing, but her parents did not have the financial means to send her to college.  Instead, she put herself through beauty school by saving every penny she made to buy supplies and pay for the state board exams.  She never forgot her dream of wanting to be a nurse too, however, and when she found out that a local hospital was in desperate need of bilingual nurses, and that they were providing free training, she jumped at the chance…even though she was 51 years old!  She was not afraid to change careers and start a new one, because that is Aunt Rose, she is so driven and dedicated.  She is proud of the fact that on her last certification exam she scored 100 points over the requirement!  She worked as a nurse for over 14 years at the same place, General Hospital, (not the TV Soap Opera hospital 😉) until she retired form there at age 65. 

One might ask what does Aunt Rose do to stay so young? Aunt Rose believes that every single one of her senses is vital to her well-being, “it’s impossible to choose” the one that is most important to her now. To stay healthy, she recommends staying busy, eating right and not watching too much TV when she was young, she was always active and always on the move.  She says that when people stop being active it is when they start to deteriorate; it is important to have a plan for each day and to do meaningful things as much as possible.

Aunt Rose and Kristina 2020

On a normal day, at 105 years old, she wakes up between 7AM and 8AM and stays busy most of the day and still, lives in her home where she tends to her garden and even at 102, she was painting her own fence!  She used to go to meetings at the Senior Center at Grand Vista and Olympic Blvd up until just the last few recent years.  In 1982, she started the Senior Citizen club at this location and it grew to over 100 members and there are still a good number of participants that regularly get together all because of Aunt Rose.  When her granddaughter was younger, some days her granddaughter would come over after school and Aunt Rose would watch her, (she loved that) and they had great times together, playing and making things. Of course, now her granddaughter is all grown-up and they still love to spend time together along with her still living son and daughter and their offspring.  Some days there are doctors or dentist appointments or other errands, like banking.  Some days she would go to the mall to walk around, do some window shopping and engage in one of her favorite things, people watching! She still does her own hair and can do her own nails too and is always impeccably dressed!  

You may be wondering how it is that Aunt Rose is able trek around the city so freely, the answer is, she took the bus!  Yes, Los Angeles public transportation was her link to everywhere she wanted to go, never wanting to wait for anyone to take her places, and the family always offered she would politely decline and advise “I love taking the bus and going on my adventures!”.  “Don’t let not driving keep you home and sedentary” she would say to everyone, “Get out there and see the City and the World too” enjoy living!

Aunt Rose has seen the death of many of her friends and relatives.  The loss that affected her deeply was when her mother passed in 1976, .  she said she “fell apart” and grieved for a very long time.  Losing her daughter, was the next greatest loss of her life.

She is accepting of death as a natural part of life and has as the responsible woman that she is has put “all her affairs in order” including a living will and a health care proxy, of course. Aunt Rose is a shining example of living life as a Californian Centenarian and always ready to get out and see the wonderful City of Los Angeles, though no more bus for her, she finally relented and enjoys her close-knit family who are always there to spend quality time with my beautiful, kind, caring, loving, adventures seeking Aunt Rose

On October 8, 2022, we are having our yearly celebration of Aunt Rose’s birthday, this one is 105 and the theme is “Airline Attire” and so it shall be 😊. I am so blessed to have her as my great Aunt Rose, and as per the norm, my mom who is 84 years old, and adores her Nina Rose, will be coming in from Sacramento (we will go “Airline Attire “costume shopping next week here in LA) and we will excitedly and proudly celebrate her life and her beautiful self!

YAYYYYY GOOOO AUNT ROSE BECERRA, HAPPY 105th BIRTHDAY, WE ALL LOVE YOU SO MUCH!

Love your great niece, Kristina Munoz  –

Letter to fans, supporters & family! 6/3/22

Denise Marsa – FLOAT (The Cowgirl & The Alien) 
Exclusive World Premiere on Music News Web  
Me with my niece Stephanie Colorado & in my car Flo.  

Hi all:  
Today is the day! The video for FLOAT The Cowgirl & The Alien premieres from the UK portal Music-News.com at 9AM EST / 2PM in the UK. I am very proud of this video and it’s only my second “official” video in my entire career. The first was The Land Had a Dream from my first solo release SELF.  I loved working with Karolina Tyszkowska on FLOAT, she was a wonderful collaborator. As was Janosch Roth who worked with me on the production of the song. I recorded the song and all the vocals in my apartment in NYC. JR brought the track to life from his studio in Germany! Thank you both!

It has been a very creative “patch” for me over the past few years. The challenges and the shift in our social activities created even more intense isolation for me, more than I typically experience as an artist. My long & winding road continues, my career has been filled with so many momentous moments, some good, some not. It has not always been easy, no surprise there, and you have all been a part of it. Cheering me on, patting my back, or telling me, you can make that lyric a bit stronger! Thank you. Let’s rock this baby! I still love singing & writing songs and yesterday I was an anxious mess, will people like it? Will we get tons of views? Will I have the kind of success, I seem to still be reaching for? The answers…who knows?
 
I do know I am still up at-bat, and I am always aiming for a home run. It is after all, who I am.
 
Thank you all for being a part of my life, and my career! Let’s rock this baby!
 
Please watch, share your thoughts, likes, and comments, and please share with everyone!

Xo
 
Love,
Denise   Watch FLOAT Now  

FLOAT
words & music by Denise Marsa (written 1.11.22)
 
My belle my love let’s orbit this earth together
Hand in hand sweethearts
We are two birds of a feather
I don’t need a diamond necklace
And I don’t need a gold ring
I just need you to bring your
Best love
Tightly hold on
Keep your feet off the ground no matter what
Let’s stay in love stay in love
Let’s Float float float
Float float float float float float
 
My belle my love let’s chase the moonlight together
Hot days cool nights
We are two birds of a feather
I don’t need a new master card
And I don’t need a gold ring
I just need you to bring your
Best love
Tightly hold on
Keep your feet off the ground no matter what
Let’s stay in love stay in love
Let’s Float float float
Float float float float float float   Watch FLOAT Now
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© 2022 Marsa Music ASCAP/ Marsa Media Inc. All Rights Reserved.

New music video

In my long career in the music business, I have only been physically involved in 3 “official” music videos for a single. The first one was for “Lucky Stars,” the duet I sang with Dean Friedman. We went to the CBS / Columbia Studios in New York to record the “live” video. I sat on a stool and Dean sat on a piano bench and played the song. We lip-synced. I enjoyed it, the link to watch the video is here.

The second was for my debut single “The Land Had a Dream,” from my debut solo album “SELF.” We went into my uncle’s movie studio in Los Angeles, he was a successful filmmaker and lent me his studio for a day. We spent a full day making the video. It was great fun and everyone worked very hard on the project. Editing was so much work! The link is here.

The third is about to be released, my new video for the track “FLOAT.” The video is an animated adventure that came to me, as I was mixing the first demo of the song. I worked with a wonderfully talented video graphics designer Karolina Tyszkowska and it was so much fun to work on. I am very proud of this video. I will share the link when we go live.

Mom, New Song & Millions of Dollars

Yesterday I had a chat with my “publisher” (my contact) at BMG. They as of this day administer my Marsa Music catalog. We spoke about the CBS Sunday Morning News piece a few weeks ago about Primary Wave the trends in music publishing and she gave me some insider insight about the president of that company. She also asked me what I thought of the piece. I told her what I told her several times before, as these huge wars for older artists’ catalogs and bodies of work become the obsession of these music publishers that are now being funding in part by hedge funds. I cannot imagine how they will ever get their ROI.

How will they make their money back, especially on the older artists, (ha) that may only tour for a few more years yet alone keep up their artistry, writing new songs as important or popular as their earlier ones? Or maybe that does not matter? We hear about artists making no money on streaming royalties and consumers (music lovers) not buying music any longer due to streaming, though the recent rise on mechanical royalties has just gone up from 9 cents to a bit over 12 cents.

Another question is, what does it say to new artists reading about all these deals, it’s like the music business isn’t tough enough with gold rings beyond most people’s reach, now new artists hear about a classic catalog being sold for 500 million dollars. Talk about the competition. Just so one big company can say to another big company, he stays or comes with us. They negotiate numbers that are hard to believe. It seems to me to be the quintessential definition of CORPORATION EGO. That’s the long and short of it for me. Unless I am missing something?

I have never been a big fan of the music business, (love making music) with its sexism and ageism blatantly displayed for decades. And the money that was once spent on production budgets, especially back in the 80s. These years very wealthy people are investing in catalogs and even artists through music publishers. I saw today, again on CBS Sunday Morning News, that a very wealthy man gave Bob Dylan millions for his archives, his memorabilia, his lyrics typed out and coffee-stained, and they have built him a museum where he lives, in Tulsa, so they can bring in tourism. Not where he was born, where he lives now. Dylan must be tripping about what one might call, his eternal fame. He started off with his acoustic guitar in the West Village, not wanting to be put in a box, singing from his heart & soul about what was going on in this world. Will there be a new era of young artists spreading their thoughts through songs, or is there no money left for labels to promote them to express themselves about today’s wars and injustices?

What would Beethoven or Chopin say, (whose compositions are now public domain and who were the popular musicians of their times) about all this money for music? And what about the public domain? How many years until you won’t have to get permission or pay an estate for a Springsteen song? Well, the key is buying up all the Master recordings of these artists, that is where I imagine they believe the golden dragon lies.

Today I am working on a new song, in honor of my mom. I woke up thinking about an idea to write a song inspired by her as it is Mother’s Day 2022. “Don’t Count Yourself Out Yet.” Ahhh, show biz!

If Gentleman Jack Could Sing

Cheers to all women who follow the beat of their own drum. Especially when it was not so easy. Like back in 1832. Now 190 years later, we celebrate 2022 March Women’s History Month and salute the women who moved mountains. For themselves and for all women.

I recently watched Gentleman Jack on HBOMax and truly enjoyed it. Wow-what a colorful powerful life and what struggles. Congrats Sally Wainwright!

I started thinking what if all these earth-shattering, unique, and one-of-a-kind historical women like Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman,  & Marie Curie could sing, what contemporary artist might we connect them with? Well here’s my first go…Annie Lennox singing COLD for dear Anne Lister, played so brilliantly by Suranne Jones. Extra bonus track from Linda Ronstadt. (The Stone Poneys) because this line says it all…then, now & always.

All I’m saying’s I’m not ready for any person
Place or thing to try and pull the reins in on me, so…”

Musicians Make Great Leaders

Let me quantify this title above. Musicians have empathy and compassion. They feel, they put mind, body, hands, skills to task, and more often than not, they learn to play music composed by others, so they carry out an intention. Perhaps from another time. Or from Yesterday. A classical musician might learn & play a Bach piece or Beethoven, a bluegrass guitarist might learn and play a Bill Monroe piece, or a pop singer might learn and play a Laura Nyro composition and a jazz musician might learn & play a Duke Ellington piece. All these musicians understood leadership. They left their legacy. Others step in their footsteps. They will decide and determine as they walk or run or skip their paths and find their way, whether the music will be able to provide and sustain a living, the income they desire, the emotional support they need, or whether the music becomes a hobby or they drop it completely. I have known musicians to do all 3. When they decide to move to another field, another way to embrace life and sustain a living, they enter the field with a passion and a drive that creates competition within themselves to succeed “here” if not “there.” They come into the workplace with the same empathy and compassion they had when they played the guitar, the piano, the sax, the banjo, the voice. And these people, these wide-minded, charismatically expressive individuals, make great leaders. I see on LinkedIn many musicians have moved to other industries and they are CFOs, CEOs, heads of marketing, company owners, tech masters, and this is perhaps why and how I quantify my title, my thoughts today. I wish a few world leaders, right about now, had the empathy and compassion needed to be truly great leaders. Destruction, chaos, threats, diminishing & dismissing others, can only lead to tyranny. What would a composition sound like, if it were titled, Tyranny? What musician would learn it & play it and continue to give it life? Not I.

4 those that follow this blog: new song new animated video coming soon…

What times these are! Having always enjoyed solo time, there are more and more moments now just becoming one long chunk of time. Days– weeks–months? Just time.

It’s been a creative time for me. How about you? I see now there are 72 followers for this blog! Wow, I’m most grateful. Thank you. Hope you enjoy my posts! Please let me hear from you, how are you, what are you working on?

Stay well and be happy. xo dm

Meatloaf

ROADIE & a yellow t-shirt

Watch 'Roadie,' 1980 movie about rock's hardy stevedores, with Meat Loaf,  Blondie, & Alice Cooper | Dangerous Minds

I was in Austin, Texas back in the early 80’s. My uncle was part of the production team for a movie called ROADIE starring Meatloaf and Debbie Harry. Alan Rudolph was directing. My uncle wanted me to see up close the making of a rock n roll movie and it only made me frustrated. So close…and that’s who I was, I wanted to be where I wasn’t, from day one.

During a break in the shoot, I was talking with Meatloaf and I told him about my work and I gave him a cassette to listen to and he went into his trailer and blasted it. Then came out after the first song, Too Proud to Love, and told me I was a really great songwriter and singer with my own sound and that I just had to keep on my track and one day one person would hear my work at a label and get me. He said you just need the one. He was very cool, he took the time to listen to my work and inspired me to move onward.

A year or so later, my friends were managing me, one was gaining momentum in the business, he had been the tour manager of the Lucky Stars tour in the UK and the other was my drummer. There was a call for an audition for a new singer to go on tour with Meatloaf and my managers were pushing me to audition. I did not want to. They said they/we needed to earn money and that it would be great for my career. I told them I wanted to focus on my own songwriting, and this would be a deterrent, I was upset and then decided to learn the material. Reputation for being difficult?

The day of the audition the one manager, the non-drummer, had a call after the audition was set up – from Meatloaf’s manager and he told my manager that Meatloaf saw my name on the list and remembered me and said he did not think I was the right type for the part. I later found out there was lots of groping, grabbing, sweating, sexual innuendos, and physical actions during the show, and I was relieved beyond words, that he had his manager call and stop the audition. It would have been most embarrassing and distasteful for me and I probably would have walked out. I knew it was a bad idea and yet I was willing to back then and I emphasize back then to consider and even go through with an audition that I knew in my heart was not a good thing for me. You have to follow your gut even when you are young with all kinds of people telling you to do this and you want to do that! I never thanked Meatloaf.

I made the cut in the film, you can see me on stage playing a roadie in a few shots during concert scenes. I was also Debbie Harry’s stand-in a few times. I wish I still had that Roadie yellow t-shirt.