After graduating from the University of Southern California with a doctorate in education, I served as a teacher and university professor during the following 35 years. I'm currently working as an editor, writer, tutor, adviser, and consultant, helping graduate students plan and complete dissertations and theses. See www.DoctorGlenn.com.
For more than a decade, I was "A Frequent Contributor to the Editorial Pages of The Orange County Register. For several years, I wrote a monthly column for Embanet.com: Hugh's View. Of particular interest is my Register Christmas commentary of December 1997 that describes Miroljub Markovic's love of jazz and his admiration of Johnny Costa, whom he called, "the most technically skilled and the most melodic of them all."
I met Johnny Costa in 1992, having flown to Pittsburgh from California to hear a live performance. Johnny greeted me warmly, and we became friends quickly. During the next five years, I journeyed to Pittsburgh many times to visit Johnny and Helen Costa and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, attend Johnny's recording sessions, and witness concerts and special performances.
Johnny soon became my most precious friend. During my visit to Pittsburgh in 1995, Johnny surprised me by saying, "I have many friends, Hugh, but you are my best friend." His words represent an extraordinary love we held for each other. I always felt honored to sit in the same room with Johnny Costa, but his words evoked tears that day. It was several years after Johnny's death in 1996 that a close friend of Costa told me, "One reason Johnny liked you so much was that you knew how good he was. He liked that."
How well I recall buying Johnny's "Neighborhood" CD and feeling the excitement of discovering his musical genius. I soon learned the meaning of the first words Helen Costa spoke to me: "Johnny is as beautiful a person as the music he plays." Helen was so right. Fred Rogers must have had Johnny Costa in mind each time he uttered, "You're special. There's no one else in the world just like you."
Listen to Johnny play a few tunes, and you'll discover for yourself that no one ever performed beautiful melodies better than Johnny Costa.