Degrees of Separation is a play on the words of the famous Broadway show that was made into a movie, Six Degrees of Separation. The playwright, John Guare illustrated how it is by six degrees of separation that everyone on the planet is connected. I am not sure that I agree. This blog post will explain why.
FIRST DEGREE: KEVIN
It all started with Kevin. I met Kevin J. Gillard on the Internet. He had developed a comprehensive marketing system using facebook pages and groups to enhance people’s ability to network and improve their businesses. It took me years to master his system. In the meantime, we became good friends. Besides inventing his own system, Kevin was quite good at discovering what other people were doing with social media.
He had found an online, streaming radio station, AmericaMatter.us that broadcast live around the world. He mentioned a particular show to me, A.M. News, unique in that it was correspondent driven. I jumped at the chance to sign on as a local correspondent. That was on February 10, 2015. I have listened to the three-hour, weekday morning show and been on the air almost every show since.
SECOND DEGREE: A.M. NEWS AND AMERICAMATTERS.US
Over time, I started listening to other shows on AmericaMatter.us. One show in particular caught my attention. It starred and is about, Keith Galliher, Jr., a Las Vegas attorney who realized after many years of practicing law that he also had a beautiful singing voice. Dedicated to pursuing both professions, he named his radio show, alternatively featuring law and music segments, Two Paths.
THIRD DEGREE: KEITH AND TWO PATHS
I started listening to Two Paths as often as possible. I got to know a bit about Keith and his unusual story. I also noticed, after a while, that whenever the show was about music, Keith would mention a man named Clarence. Clarence always seemed to be within earshot on the music shows. I became curious about him. Some of his story emerged on Two Paths. He was the founder and part of the very popular, Little Anthony & The Imperials group from the 1950’s and 60’s. But I did not know how he and Keith met. My curiosity was aroused. I could not imagine the catalytic connection.
FOURTH DEGREE: CLARENCE COLLINS
It turned out that Clarence has settled in Las Vegas. Keith’s law practice is in Las Vegas. Clarence Collins needed to consult with an attorney on a musical matter. He sought out the legal services of Keith Galliher. When the time came for Keith to take his step into the music world, who did he turn to for guidance, musical arrangement and production? He sought out none other than the ‘man of music’ himself, Clarence Collins.
Once I found out this connecting detail, I wanted to know more. I got permission to speak with Clarence on the phone and had a delightful conversation that lasted about an hour. During that time, I found out many things we had in common. There were the coincidences of both having lived in Brooklyn. He briefly worked for a butcher. My great-great grandfather was a butcher. That was enough connections for one day. But it was only the first of many connecting conversations to come.
FIFTH DEGREE: THE TWO BROTHERS
One Friday afternoon when my husband and I were listening to Keith’s music show, something was mentioned about ‘two brothers’. I only vaguely caught the gist of the conversation until I heard these words. I am paraphrasing. ‘We really have to find these brothers and we just know that Alison Gilbert can do it’. My husband and I turned to each other with our mouths dropped open. Before we could even recover to speak, the challenge was repeated. ‘We have been looking for these brothers for over a year and we just have to find them. We know that Alison Gilbert, our ‘Ace Detective’ can do it if anyone can’.
Somewhat in shock, I picked up the phone to call the radio station. But the show had just ended and they were no longer on the line. Since Keith calls in from his office in Las Vegas to do the show with Clarence, I realized I could call there directly. Keith was on a business call but Clarence was still there and available. So I was able to speak with him. I asked him what kind of challenge I had just been given? I needed a bit more information to live up to my reputation as an ‘Ace Detective’. Somehow that is what they decided I was or would be when I found these missing, mysterious brothers.
My questions ranged from were these ‘birth brothers’ or ‘brothers from the hood’? How did he know about them and what was the reason they needed to be found? The story goes something like this. Clarence knew their father, a man also in the music business. But Clarence could not remember his name or find the demo of the brothers’ songs that their dad had given Clarence. Clarence and Keith has searched high and low throughout music industry organizations including Halls of Fame, etc. But all they had were the names of two songs. ‘Good Times, Good Times’ was one of them. No one was able to direct them to resource archives or provide a clue.
So given the ‘father and two brothers’ challenge, I commenced to my sleuthing. By coincidence, in talking with my musical sister, I learned that the Library of Congress was a great resource for musical archives. So my next step was to call there. I was connected with the Music Dept. and after a few steps that required additional information from Clarence, I was able to locate a page in the Library of Congress musical archive with the name of the song, ‘Good Times, Good Times’. There were several gospel versions that I knew were not what the brothers had composed. But there was one that was copyrighted around the year that fit the brothers’ profile and could be their style of music.
So the next thing I did was click on the year link provided on the records. It brought me to a page. Without having final confirmation yet, I knew I had found all of them, Clarence’s contact, John Paul Fetta, their dad and his twin sons, JP (Jon Paul) and Rich, the two brothers.
I was also able to find a page for one of the brothers on facebook. JP lives in New York, north of NYC. I live in New York south of NYC. His phone number was on his page so I was able to call him, asked him a few questions and quickly confirmed that the year old mystery was indeed solved. I asked JP for his dad’s phone number in Las Vegas and excitedly called Clarence’s number to give him the good news. I left him a message. While I waited for him to call back, I had an initial interview with Jon Paul while he was driving to a business appointment.
SIXTH DEGREE: JOHN PAUL MOLFETTA, SR. AKA JOHN PAUL FETTA
I had secured the father’s phone number for Clarence. They both resided in Las Vegas. When Clarence called back, we were cheering with excitement. It has take me, their ‘Ace Detective’ about two hours to solve the mystery that they had not be able solve in a year. Clarence and the twins’ dad connected. The next thing I knew, two weeks later, Keith Galliher’s music show was dedicated to me and featured the two brothers. We all spoke on air and it was very exciting.
Rich and JP Molfetta have written and sung some extraordinary songs over the years. They had recording contracts with major music labels. But as family became a priority, they both went into the more financially stable business world. They still write and sing. In addition, Keith Galliher and Clarence Collins will be carrying on the Molfetta music legacy.
THE JOURNEY COMES FULL CIRCLE
Clarence Collins became famous at the tender age of 16 with the song, Tears on My Pillow. He had a long history as part of Little Anthony & the Imperials. When it was time to stop, he became part of Imperials Plus, Keith’s recording company. A journey of about 50 years brought Clarence full circle, writing music, recording music, arranging music and discovering talent for more music. Jerome Anthony Gourdine and the Imperials, Keith Galliher Jr. Music and Molfetta Music Productions are all contributors and beneficiaries of their serendipitous journey.
Is this journey six degrees of separation or layers of connections? Either way, it doesn’t matter. What is important is that it has happened. But personally, I prefer to think that we are not separated by degrees of a linear path but connected by layers of spontaneous bonds. And if you are on the same layer as someone, you will connect with them. Neither time, space nor circumstances can impede a process that is meant to be. You know it when it happens because you can feel it. That is why I am so strongly in favor of the concept of layers of connection.