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Charlotte Mabrey

Charlotte eventually landed in the great state of Illinois, for those golden years we call "high school." Lovely Rich East High School, home of the Rich East Rockets. Yes, the space race was on everyone's mind, and Rich East was no exception. Char was just an easy going, groovy chick. Tall and quiet, but really a swinging dancer! Then the day arrived that would change all others. The Music Man (no, not Robert Preston) came-a-calling at Rich East. Sure Charlotte wanted to play the accordion in the band ("..maybe I can work a few polkas in Chicago..."), but it was all over when he held up the snare drum. That sparkle snare drum just called her name! Charlotte knew, yes, this was the way to hold teenagers' attention, get dates, win contests, wear groovy, sixties Nehru jackets and really annoy her parents!

All with impossibly huge gear to lug to and from school! It was genius! Charlotte played in the Rich East Orchestra, the Marching Band, and started her own all girl band, the Distractions. And they sure were! The had fab clothes, and a fab sound, and won many band contests. That lasted until the boyfriends of the girls in the band starting sulking about how much time it was taking away from their needs....well, that was the end of that.
After high school, Charlotte did some time at LSU in Baton Rouge, before heading to University of Illinois as a percussion major with an emphasis in timpani. She really enjoyed her time at U of I, going on for her Masters Degree in Music. Due to intensive practicing, she has no recollection of current events during her days in college. During the summers, she played percussion for various shows such as "Your Obedient Servant, Abe Lincoln" (on scaffolding, no less.) She did a stint one summer in Cedar Rapids Iowa, in a Country Western band in a gin-joint....that's quite a story. That job gave her the rolling-rhythm chops that she is famous for, especially when mixing pancakes. The boys in the band shielded her from flying beer bottles. That's when cowboys were gentlemen.

A temporary position opened up in the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, over 25 years ago, so Char packed her bags and moved to "the big city." The temporary job turned in to a full time principal percussionist position, and she never looked back. While she was playing with the JSO, she did some teaching at FCCJ before taking a teaching job at University of North Florida. In addition, she started the Caribbean Sound Steel Drum Band and was part of the "house-band" for the scientific opening of the Gomek exhibit at the Alligator Farm (those are credentials!) Charlotte has also played in Carnegie Hall. Charlotte really got to work on the percussion program at UNF. She's had several ensembles, including the UNF Percussion Ensemble, and the Rosewood Ragtimers. The Perc Ensemble performs throughout North Florida and played at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in 1998.

One of Charlotte's favorite activities has been to produce and perform in an annual recital each summer. This show has been running to standing room only crowds for over a decade. It brings together many artists and features percussion as well as performance pieces, proving that there is good 20th Century music out there...not just "bips and boops."

Charlotte enjoys loading gear, stale quik-mart sandwiches, and feeling the wind in her hair. She kayaks, snorkels, scoops dog poop, and tries to keep track of her schedule on little scraps of paper. Charlotte loves Klondike bars, a really good joke, reading on the porch, doing a little laundry, turning the handcrank siren on Sunday mornings, running through "Turkey in the Straw" on the xylophone "one more time" and trying to figure out how to rehearse 20th Century music.

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