Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Who Are You...

Who Who Who (expletive deleted) are you?

Who Am I - Petula Clark
Petula Clark - Album Cover

This week's blog has nothing to do with voiceover. But, then again, maybe it does. If you were tuned in to pop music in the seventies you'll recognize that the title of this blog today is borrowed from the song of the same name written by Pete Townsend and performed by Townsend Roger Daltry, Keith Moon and John Entwistle, a.k.a. The Who. It made its way into the top forty in 1978 and gained a great deal of renewed popularity thanks to Jerry Bruckheimer's CSI. Petula Clark made popular another song with a similar title – Who Am I. There's a new TV show that's gained some popularity of late using another song title as it's show title – Who Do You Think You Are? Bo Donaldson and the Haywoods made that one popular in 1974.

Where is he going with this?
The questions being asked suggest that you really should know a little about yourself and where you came from. “Who Do You Think You Are” focuses on genealogy and is a blatant advertisement for a pay as you go genealogy service called I have opinions here but will keep them to myself. I bring this up because I think knowing your roots can tell you a lot about your own makeup and give clues to the inner workings of your own personality.

Knowing who I am and where I came from has been a lifelong passion for me. I have been researching my family roots for the better part of 35 years and have a pretty good understanding of who my ancestors are, where they lived and the lives they lived. For example, the Reed family was a very private family going back several generations. They lived in rural Vermont and in a secluded area of Northern New York. The Ables, on the other hand,  came to this country in the mid 1800s to find a better live than the one they lived in Darmstadt, Germany. Both families kept to themselves. The opposite was true of my maternal grandparents. Both my grandfather and great grandfather were merchants and loved interacting with people. So this explains to me why sometimes I'm very comfortable being very private and can function as a loner. It also explains why I can carry on a conversation with just about anyone and be very comfortable talking to strangers.

All of my ancestors were USA immigrants as some point. I have no aboriginal blood line that I know of and I have researched my family roots through the 1600s in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. One family came to England with William the Conqueror and has Flemish roots. I can trace my ancestors to several passengers on the Mayflower. Another family purchased Oyster Bay NY from the aboriginal natives living there and that deed is on display in the Teddy Roosevelt Museum. I have traced my German ancestors only back to the 1800s. Unfortunately, some German records are very difficult to find due to the two world wars that ravaged the country. Another ancestral family of mine left Ireland during the potato famine for a better life in America. So, I know who I am. I know almost all of the skeletons hanging in the closet and I know who was and is “out” of the closet.
I am fortunate that for many of my families, I have photos dating back to the mid 1800s, when photography became readily available. The images tell a lot about people.

It is still quite difficult for me to understand why anyone would not want to know about their family history. Some people are so focused on the “today and tomorrow” that they have little regard for the past. Knowing where you came from can be very enlightening for a voiceover artist and anyone for that matter. Voice actors are always trying to answer the question: “Who Am I.”

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