…I’ve Got the Music In Me, and Oh How it Moves Me: Part 1

Musical Dynasties: It (Genetically) Runs in the Family

“Genetics may account for musical predisposition and ability.” The following article by Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D. originally appeared December 31, 2011, in Psychology Today‘s Here, There, and Everywhere Blog.

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, and former Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder discovered in his teens that his true biological father was a musician that played guitar.

Singer, songwriter, and guitarist KT Tunstall (“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree“), “Suddenly I See” was adopted at birth. Her adoptive parents did not have much of an interest in music. However, Tunstall later discovered that her biological father, Ed Severson Jr., was a folk singer.

Even recent X-Factor finalist Chris Rene is from a musical family. Chris’ father, Rafaele “Googie” Rene, was a jazz and soul singer, and his grandfather, Leon Rene, was a music composer – and the creator of “Rockin’ Robin”.

Is musical talent inherited?  Researchers are leaning towards that possibility.

A medical geneticist and her colleagues analyzed 224 family members who were either professional musicians, active amateur musicians, or were related to professional or active amateur musicians.  On standard tests of musical aptitude, it was found that the inheritability rate of musical talent was 50%.

Not only that, but some family members with no musical training scored the same as professional musicians on the tests.  It was also discovered from blood tests of study participants that two chromosomes had genes that were linked to musical ability (Jarvela, et al. 2008).

And how about the opposite direction – families where no one can carry a tune?  One study found that even tone-deafness (“congentical amusia”) is genetic (Peretz, et al. 2007).


Copyright 2011 Sarkis Media LLC

My Connection with Kiki Dee, the Singer of I’ve Got the Music In Me (1974)

Image:  Kiki Dee Band Album Cover

Kiki Dee Band Album Cover

I feel a direct connection to Kiki Dee and her music. We were born the same year. I was born in Maryland and she, in Little Horton, Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England–the very origin of my ancient English Bolling ancestors, that I have traced back to 1190 and my 23rd Great Grandfather, William DeBolling.

Ms. Dee began singing with a local band in Bradford in the early 1960s. And, like me, her favorite music genre was POP. Her biggest hit came when she recorded a duet in 1976 with Elton John (also my age):Don’t Go Breaking My Heart“. This single reached No. 1 in both our countries and remained at the top for six weeks. Kiki is still active as a singer today.

And, you may ask why am I sharing Kiki Dee’s music and singing, I Got the Music In Me, with you and why should I feel a strong connection to her.  And my only answer is  her music moves me with its upbeat tempo and lyrics that describe my philosophy towards living:

Ain’t got no trouble in my life
No foolish dream to make me cry
I’m never frightened or worried
I know I’ll always get by
I heat up, I cool down
When something gets in my way I go around it
Don’t let life get me down
Gonna take it the way that I found it…

And, I would be remiss if I failed to thank you the songwriter ,Tobias “Bias” Boshell for these lyrics.

In Part 2, of this blog, we will look closer into my family’s “inherent music abilities” and whether we are another example that supports the research that two chromosomes have genes that are linked to music ability.

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