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Singing, strumming the story of her life

Glenna West releases her first album at age 78
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal features editor
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Glenna West is just getting started. The Auburn-area great-grandmother started taking guitar lessons just two years ago, and now, at age 78, she’s celebrating the release of her first album, “My Legacy.” “This CD is about my life,” West said. The autobiographical album features six songs written by West with the help of friend and guitar instructor Paul Beatie. The songs cover everything from a difficult childhood to her experience as a military wife, and carry a message of hope, support and a no-regrets, can-do attitude. “The sky’s the limit,” West said. “You can do anything you put your mind to. Don’t let anyone tell you no. I don’t allow ‘I can’t.’” “My Legacy” is dedicated “to all grandmothers,” and the album is also the physical fulfillment of a promise West made to her grandmother. “My grandmother asked me to write a book about my life,” she said. “She was the best thing in the world to me. This lady was more special than any woman in my life. I had a pretty rough childhood, and she taught me everything.” West, who sang and played musical instruments earlier in life, decided a couple years ago to pursue guitar lessons. “I can’t play the clarinet and sing at the same time, and I’ve always wanted to play guitar,” she said. West said a sign, both literally and figuratively, connected her with Beatie. West had been searching for a music instructor for a while, with no luck. On her way back from a trip to Grass Valley, she noticed the Lake of the Pines Music sign on Highway 49. “Thank God I got the red light,” she said. West is happy she went with her gut feeling, because it led her to Beatie. “I’m old enough to be his grandma,” she said with a laugh. “I respect that kid so much. He is a wonderful young man.” West and Beatie worked together to write the lyrics and music that ended up on “My Legacy.” “She wrote me out a couple pages,” Beatie said. “Over a couple months we turned it into music.” West and Beatie both sing on the album, and Beatie also plays guitar and hand percussion. West said she had a wonderful time recording the album, which is available for $10 at Cherry Records in Auburn and also through iTunes. “I thoroughly enjoyed it,” she said. “You better have patience and be prepared to spend all day.” West has also enjoyed getting to know Beatie. They bonded over a shared interest in musicians like Johnny Cash, and even went to see Brad Paisley perform in Reno earlier this year. “He and some of the kids in his band took me to a concert, my first concert,” West said. West is preparing for another musical first — she and Beatie are performing at a “My Legacy” CD release party July 3 at the Auburn Event Center. West hopes to see “the entire town.” “The more the merrier,” she said. Funds from “My Legacy” album sales will go into a fund for the benefit of music education for children. “This is one way I can give back,” West said. “I just want lots of money for kids. I don’t want to miss a child.” With an album out and a promise fulfilled, West could hit the brakes. While she won’t divulge what she wants to do next, she definitely shows no signs of putting down the guitar. “You’re only as old as you feel,” she said. “I feel like I’m 30.” __________ Know and Go What: CD release party for Glenna West’s “My Legacy” When: Noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 3 Where: Auburn Event Center, Elm and Harrison avenues, Auburn Cost: Free admission; album is $10 Info: glennawest.org