The Curtis Family C-Notes: Maestro Curtis (Papa C.), Nola Curtis (Mama C.), Nile Curtis, Zahara Curtis, Phoenix Curtis, Isis Curtis, Kiki Curtis
Photography by Michelle Kilfeather
The Curtis Family C-Notes' star is on the rise, y'all.
In Part 1, the San Francisco family shares their story with us. We dive into Papa C.'s past in Louisiana and San Francisco. Then we learn a little about Mama C.'s time growing up on the Peninsula.
Papa C. (Maestro Curtis) can't remember when he started playing musical instruments. He was asked to perform for family members from a very young age. He owes his lifelong work ethic to his growing up, as well. He spent time between Louisiana and San Francisco, but it was out here that he got involved in martial arts and positive social change.
After getting into some trouble in his high school years, Papa C. took a scholarship to Grambling State University in Louisiana. Then he spent seven years in the Army.
Mama C. (Nola Curtis) grew up a competitive ice skater. She's Tongan and grew up in San Mateo surrounded, essentially, by so many famous professional skaters. Looking back, she enjoyed performing, but not so much competing. Her father passed away when she was 14 and one of the effects of her grief was that she stopped skating.
She turned to books, especially reading stuff that wasn't assigned at school. To help her graduate on time, she took a history of jazz course at a community college, and that's where she first heard Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, and Billie Holiday. That class and those performers inspired her to start singing. Soon, she was asked to start a band with some folks, but she decided lessons were the first step.
Nola met her future husband in this context.
In Part 2, Mama C. talks about finding confidence and a sense of self-worth through music and family.
Papa C. (Maestro Curtis) jumps in to express his admiration for his wife. Then we throw it over to the kids.
First, introductions. Zahara (16), Nile (15), Isis (14), Kiki (13), and Phoenix (11 as of Tuesday). Nile talks about how the band evolved over time. The kids had their own band (The C-Notes) and mom and dad had a separate band. Zahara got started in music during her time at Everett Middle School. But as that faded out, she picked up instruments lying around the house and asked her siblings to join her. The C-Notes were born.
When it came time for mom and dad to join forces with the kids, Papa C. tells us that they didn't want the spotlight to ever be on just one member, stressing the importance of family and the group dynamic.
At this point in the podcast, Erin Lim of Bitch Talk Podcast takes over hosting. We start off talking about the kids' fascination with physics. They each take a turn explaining how they got interested and what application of science pertains to their individual interests.
Then Erin asks the family to talk about the judges and host of America's Got Talent, the show on which the family is currently competing.
We end the episode by talking about the family's "special sauce."
We recorded this podcast in collaboration with Bitch Talk Podcast at the Jones United Methodist Church in the Fillmore in June 2021.