“The fulfillment of one mentor’s lifelong dream has brought new donations to Talbot Mentors.
When Mike Kirby was in first grade, he won a singing contest with his rendition of “Pistol Packin’ Mama”. Afterwards, a classmate’s father told Kirby’s mother, “With a voice like that, your son will have you living on Easy Street someday.” While Kirby says that there were probably only three contestants in the competition, he never forgot that success.
Kirby had a recording studio in the 1970s, making a living producing jingles. From there, he went to work for 30 years as an executive in the pharmaceutical industry. However, during the more than 50 years since that first-grade contest, he kept on singing, and always wanted to make his own album.
The technological advances since the ’70s enabled Kirby to set up a small recording studio in his home as a hobby and he was finally able to fulfill his dream. He put together a CD entitled Easy Street, with what he calls “an eclectic group of cool songs.”
Kirby wrote two of the songs himself. A self-proclaimed “diner freak,” he pays homage to his love for those icons of Americana in “Diners”. In “1968”, he captures the effect the momentous events of that one year had on a generation.
One song is noted as having been recorded live at the Delmarva Road Kill Bar-B-Q and Blues Festival. Done as a joke, Kirby has been surprised at how many people have called him to ask when the non-existent festival takes place.
He sings the lead vocals and plays some of the instruments himself, including guitar, keyboard and harmonica. Kirby enlisted friends to play others, putting all the parts together on a computer.
A volunteer with Talbot Mentors for more than three years, Kirby has used his musical talents to connect with his mentee, De’Andre Dorsey, a senior at Easton High School who plays the clarinet in the school band.
Kirby invited Dorsey to participate in the production of the recording. His mentee sings backup on a couple of the songs and ran the control board while Kirby was singing. Dorsey, his friend, Calvin Rookard, and members of the St. Marks United Methodist Church choir join Kirby on one gospel-style track.
When planning the CD, Kirby decided, “If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right.” Not content simply to produce a CD for his own benefit, he chose to make it a fundraising opportunity for Talbot Mentors.
He gave out the CD to about a hundred of his friends, family and business acquaintances. A sticker on the outside describes Talbot Mentors and suggests that “if this recording has any redeeming value for you,” the recipient may send a contribution to the organization. To date, Talbot Mentors has received about $1,000 as a result of Kirby’s effort.
A strong supporter of mentoring, Kirby describes it as “one activity where you really can make a difference.” Talbot Mentors helped send his mentee to band camp at James Madison University this summer, which he noted was a big opportunity for Dorsey.
Kirby hopes the donations received from his CD will enable other kids to go to camp next year, encouraging more kids to follow their dreams.
For Kirby, the final track on Easy Street takes him right back to that first-grade contest. “How Sweet It Is” fades out with his great niece singing “Pistol Packin’ Mama.” At the end, the little girl says, “We’re headin’ to Easy Street, Mom!”
The CDs is available at no cost at the Talbot Mentors office on North Washington Street inEaston. The supply is limited. For more information, to make a contribution, or to volunteer as a mentor, call Talbot Mentors at 410-770-5999 or visit www.talbotmentors.org.”