Susan McCrea was blessed with rhythm

Susan McCrea graduated from UCSD with a bachelor’s degree in drama and dance. She holds master’s degrees in psychology and education.

McCrea has been in the entertainment field for more than 30 years. She has performed and toured in Germany, Japan, Mexico and Southern California. As a choreographer for film and video, she has worked for Lorimar and NBC, and has been featured on television in Canada, Mexico City, Venezuela and Japan. She produced numerous shows internationally and had a running show for four years on Rodeo Drive.

As a professional drummer, she performs annually at the KIFM Jazz Festival and the Del Mar Twilight Summer Concert Series with the band Soul Seduction. She also performs at more than 40 hotels, casinos and restaurants in the San Diego area.

She combines her entertainment career with her other passions - fitness and travel. Through her business, Traveling Spa, she organizes life-coaching seminars in top destinations.

What brought you to Del Mar?

UCSD students could live rent-free at the Winners Circle Lodge (now the Red Tracton) in exchange for 15 hours of work per week. I later upgraded to sharing a room in an apartment on Stratford Court for $75 a month. Although my career as a dancer and choreographer took me to L.A. and my marriage took me to Germany, I returned to Del Mar eight years ago.

What makes Del Mar special to you?

Although I have been fortunate to travel with my career and business to many of the most spectacular places in the world, Del Mar still remains one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Living off Carmel Valley Road, I hike daily up Torrey Pines and never tire of the inspiring view and surrounding nature.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in Del Mar?

This one is easy - music. Three years ago, my band played at the Del Mar Plaza and the response was incredible. People came out in droves to enjoy the sunset, great food and wine, and quietly dance to jazz, soul and baby boomer favorites. Volume was never a problem, and the energy was positive. I believe music is a soothing influence on everyone and should be not only allowed in Del Mar, but supported and encouraged as one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Who or what inspires you?

I have been inspired by the great artists in my life who I have been fortunate enough to work with. Their relentless passion for music (which in our society is not always financially appreciated) enables me to persevere when I am tempted to give up. Being an artist is a blessing and a curse. When you are involved in your art, you are in the moment. It’s as good as life gets. My teaching and the younger generation inspire me through their energy, enthusiasm and willingness to break through conventional obstacles and mediocrity. My own children, nieces and nephews help renew my spirit with their belief in possibility.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Besides my family, Obama, Oprah, Gloria Steinem, Tiger, Prince, Ghandi, Martha Stewart (she seems like a real character and she could help with the cooking) and my ex-mother-in-law (for revenge).

What are you currently reading?

“Roots of Soul” and “Healthy Aging.”

What is your most prized possession?

My 1993 Mercury Villager, which is bought and paid for. I’d put it in my will, but nobody wants it. Aside from the Villager, I’d say my Zildjian cymbals and being blessed with rhythm.

What do you do for fun?

Drumming, of course, which is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. My other favorites are golf, hiking, dancing, concerts, rafting and hanging out with my kids, nieces and nephews.

Describe your greatest accomplishment.

My greatest accomplishment is being able to visualize outside the box, take chances and survive life’s ups and downs. I first formed my band when my husband left me with two small children. We had just returned from living in Europe for 11 years, and my career as a professional dancer and choreographer was no longer feasible. I decided to return to drums (which I had played briefly in junior high, but quit after being ridiculed). Hiring the best musicians San Diego had to offer, we immediately became booked. I was blessed with the opportunity to learn and perform with truly great musicians.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Don’t worry - you’ll never get out of this world alive. Existentially, every day we wake, we are one day closer to our death. We alone are responsible for our own happiness. We must connect with what our passion is and then go out and do it. Facing our fears is the greatest obstacle, but a necessity. My goal as a teacher is to guide students to find where their unique purpose, talents and abilities lie. I created my Garfield Performing Arts Center in memory of Hollis Gentry and Calvin Baugh, who were two great artists who believed in me. They helped me realize my dream of becoming a musician by their patience, encouragement and support. Now I can pass this on and inspire others who share my passion for music. This is my purpose.