Avoiding the Spotlight

Bobbie was born in Abbott, Texas.  When her brother was born when she was two years old, her mother left.  When her father remarried, she and her brother were sent to their grandparents to be raised.  Her grandparents were active in music and Bobbie learned to play piano.  She and her brother started playing music together when he learned to play the guitar.

When she was 16, she married, and her husband formed a band with Bobbie on the piano and her brother singing and playing guitar.  She had three children and an alcoholic husband who died in a car accident.  She was deemed to be unfit as a mother to her children and they were given to her husband’s parents to raise.

To retain the right to raise her children, she left the band and went to a business college.  After working for the Hammond Organ Company demonstrating instruments, she and her brother were able to join up again as performers.

Her brother had made some money writing songs and they had freedom to start recording music they liked and doing live shows.  They started to draw a fan following.  Bobbie, however, was never comfortable being in the spotlight.  Her piano was situated on stage so that all the audience saw was the top of a cowboy hat she wore.  As her brother became more and more famous, few knew that the piano player was his sister.

She was tricked into recording her own album when she was asked to warm up a piano.  She didn’t know that she was being recorded.  Sister Bobbie Nelson – YouTube  When she and her brother traveled on their bus, they would continue to play music.  Some of these sessions have been recorded and released.  This was the first time that people became aware of who the piano player was.

Avoiding the spotlight is an admirable human trait.  In a day when social media can make everyone a star in their own mind, it’s a rarity to see someone who is comfortable knowing who they are without trying to proclaim their greatness to the world.  Willie Nelson knew that his sister Bobbie was too humble to want attention, and he honored her wishes.

Avoiding the spotlight is also an important career strategy.  Those who make genuine contributions don’t need praise lavished on them.  Others know of what they have achieved and what they can contribute.  Avoiding the spotlight is also a good way to limit jealousy that makes the corporate world seem like a soap opera.  True greatness is not a self-proclaimed value, but one that is earned through achievement and humility.

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“Without my sister, I’d never be where I am today.  I’ve always needed her.” – Willie Nelson

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