It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and while I still haven’t had time to fully process the loss of Steve Zegree, today is the perfect day to begin reflecting on his massive influence on me and so many others as a mentor.
Steve taught me to give generously, and privately.
In February of 2000 after months of LIVING in the studio mixing the Gold Company CD “While We’re Young,” Steve called me into his office. He had the first boxes of both CDs we had produced (the other was a greatest hits CD, “Solid”). He opened them with me standing there, and took the first copy of each. He said, “I always send the first copy somewhere special, but I want you to have the second copy of these CDs.” I was so proud of my work on those two CDs, and flattered to be given any copy, let alone one of the very first.
A week or so later, my parents got a package from him. The note included said, “I told Jed I always send the first copy somewhere special.”
Steve taught me to feel urgency in every rehearsal.
He would start counting down to the end of the year on the first rehearsal, and always demonstrated a sense of immediacy. Time was short and we needed to make the most of it.
Steve taught me that the mind is stronger than the body.
When Gold Company returned from our three week European tour in May, 2000, travel problems meant that we arrived a day late and exhausted from nearly 48 hours of traveling. The next morning, Steve and I met in the recording studio a little while before the rest of the group to put down some guide tracks to help facilitate a recording.
As he stood at the keyboard, jet lag set in and a line he had played dozens of times in rehearsal became impossible. After the third or fourth take, he paused and gave himself a fifteen second pep-talk. “Mind over matter. You can do this. C’mon, Steve.”
And he got it on the next take, of course.
He often ended rehearsals with the admonition, “You’re more tired than you think you are,” and then maintained his barely-possible expectations at the next rehearsal. Tired is surmountable.
I learned so much from my time with Steve, and I still can’t believe the world has lost him so soon. What has been perhaps most remarkable in the wake of his death has been the big picture: seeing the stories shared from fellow alumni has helped reveal a massive canvas he was painting, one that most of us only ever saw a small section of before now.
I’m not done processing his impact and will share more as time goes by; for now I say: thank you, Steve Zegree. Your legacy continues in hundreds of your students giving generously, striving urgently, and prevailing mentally over obstacles.
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