A Very Special Oral History Milestone

6 Photos

Recently, our volunteer, Suzanne Del Fiorentino, captured her 1,000th interview for the NAMM Oral History Program!  
We wanted to mark this special occasion by asking her to share her thoughts about the role she plays in documenting the stories of our passion-driven industry. 
On August 28, 2023, while gathering interviews at KHS America, singer/songwriter Porter Howell stopped by for his NAMM interview. It was the 1,000th time Suzanne had helped capture an interview. Here is her story...
Since the spring of 2016 I have been volunteering for NAMM, helping with oral history interviews mostly on the road and of course at the NAMM show where it is "all hands on deck." I want to mention that our team includes Alex Rossner, who is our expert videographer and also edits all of the interviews that we collect, and of course Dan Del Fiorentino, who has conducted the vast majority of the interviews in the collection (currently 5,400 and counting)!
After hitting the milestone of my 1,000th interview, I have some personal thoughts to share about my experiences. First I would like to spread some kudos in Dan's direction (he won't like this part) because besides conducting all of the interviews he first has to make connections with our future interviewees. This can involve many communications regarding our program, what we hope to achieve, then the logistics of where and when. And for a road trip with multiple stops and many locations for interviews, the timing of everything can get very complicated. Often our trips are built around a conference or special event (or two or three), with travel before and or after the event to capture as many important interviews that we can while we are in the area. And Dan does not like to miss an opportunity. While planning these trips, he will say things like, "If we drove two more hours, we could go to this store," or "When will be ever be this close to this city again where this person lives, and if we just drove three more hours …" Finally, I have to reel him back in with, "This is already a 15-day trip.” 
And back to me. I love trying to make the shots fun with interesting backgrounds (inside a recording studio always makes a great shot) — a nice shot inside a music store that the owners and employees can be proud of, or fun or weird stuff in the background (a large aquarium was in a recent shot and a lava lamp also comes to mind, as well as a lit-up flashing neon "bar" sign). Of course, I always strive for clear audio with a minimum of outside noise but have accepted that some noise in a music store can be considered atmosphere and is a good indication that there are customers in the store!
And on an even more personal note, I love going to locations where they have animals that I can meet. I have enjoyed meeting many dogs, a smaller number of cats, a couple of snakes, and even alpacas and some goats! This is always a reward for me. Also, with Dan being such an outgoing person, he often forms friendships with people we have interviewed, and we have attended some special birthday parties and other events as a result. One such recent celebration was the birthday party for a former music teacher that we interviewed, who still plays the piano once a week at a Chinese restaurant. It was his 103rd birthday, and he was playing his regular gig that night to celebrate. And the food was good, too!
“We can’t thank Suzanne enough for her contributions to the NAMM Oral History Program,” said Zach Phillips, NAMM’s director of member services. “The Oral History Program is about celebrating the stories of the people who’ve built this industry. Few embody the spirit of that program like Suzanne. We’re so grateful that she’s lent her talents to tell our industry’s collective story through 1,000 interviews.”