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23 / 25
Reports | Spring 2018

2017 Magic Penny Award

Love Is a Song

Magic was in the air at the 2017 CMN Annual International Conference, which wisely celebrated the music and contributions of Sally Rogers as the recipient of the Magic Penny Award.

Anyone familiar with Sally’s gorgeous voice and memorable songs knows the recognition is well deserved. Those of us who regularly attend the CMN annual conference have long enjoyed Sally’s organizational leadership, workshops, song leading, and clever but loving requests for members to donate dollars to help CMN continue its work. This year was no different, as Sally found a way to use the Magic Penny honor to raise money for CMN by creating a $1,000 matching grant with generous assistance from her brother, who was unable to attend the festivities. Thanks, Sal!

The Magic Penny ceremony is always a joy to watch: a music-filled tribute to the honoree featuring an eclectic group of CMNers singing songs, telling stories, showing slides—all in an effort to celebrate those individuals deserving of the award named for Malvina Reynolds’s song. The Magic Penny Committee works hard to bring in celebrants from outside of CMN who are close to the honoree, which makes for an intimate and entertaining occasion.

It should come as no shock that a large and exuberant group of Sally-ites was able to attend the ceremony this year. That group included current and past teaching colleagues, along with a former principal who made it clear how fortunate she was to have worked shoulder to shoulder with Sally to create and implement dynamic music curricula during their tenure together. Sally’s immediate family—husband Howie Bursen and daughters Malana and Maya—were also in attendance.    

Malana and Maya delighted us all as they celebrated their mother, recalling past conferences they attended as small children and singing “Love Is a Song” with Sally’s longtime collaborator Claudia Schmidt (a surprise guest!). Turns out apples do not fall far from the tree: Malana and Maya are hilarious AND sing beautifully.  

Sally’s songs were gracefully woven throughout the ceremony. Personal favorites include “We’ll Pass Them On” and “Lovely Agnes. I don’t know how Sally gets through these songs without crying; I’m always a puddle after hearing either of them.

Another memorable moment was listening to Claudia and Sally sing together. Two vocal powerhouses singing Sally’s songs—it doesn’t get much better than that. Listening to friends make music together is a gift to any audience—the practiced, perfect harmonies complimenting the intertwined lifetimes. (Brigid Finucane and I had the pleasure of seeing Sally and Claudia perform at a Chicago-area club last year. I loved hearing Sally outside the confines of a CMN conference, and I recommend you do the same if the duo travels anywhere near your hometown.)

We are fortunate to count Sally among our membership. Her musical legacy lives in each of us, every time we share one of her songs with our audiences or our students. That is the gift we can continue to give to her in thanks for all she has given us.

Love IS a song, and CMN loves Sally Rogers.

Conference photos by Kayte Deioma