As a photographer for more than 35 years, Glenda S. Paradee traveled the world, shooting and meeting some of the biggest names in entertainment.
From Dolly Parton to Cher, the Rolling Stones to The Who, the Gilbert woman became widely known chronicler of entertainers, landing her images on the covers of magazines and social media pages as well as her own magazine, “Thanks for the Music,” a 15-year-old publication that remains an online product even though it’s no longer in print.
Now, Paradee has ventured off the music beat a bit to add “children’s book author” to her impressive resume.
But “Tinkerbell, the Long-Haired Chihuahua,” is not just any book. It’s a love story, if you will, about her 16-year relationship with a beloved pet dog that has since passed on.
“‘Tinkerbell, the Long-Haired Chihuahua’ is the story of my fur baby, Tinkerbell, who was a beautiful, loving companion who gave unconditional love and comfort to me,” she explained. “Tinkerbell was like a child to me. He gave me total unconditional love and comfort throughout his whole life.”
She said her book “describes and illustrates some of the adventures and highlights of his life with me.”
“His memory was the inspiration for writing this book. It was very therapeutic for me to share memories of my life with Tinkerbell.”
Though she aims the book at children, Paradee said “everyone of every age will enjoy it. It will bring a smile to everyone’s face and heart. The moral of the story is it is OK to be different, you can be happy, and you are loved.”
The California native’s initial foray into photography was as the “family photographer,” shooting events involving her four siblings and parents.
Then, she went to her first concert.
At 16, her parents took her to see Sonny and Cher and she pulled out her camera.
“I sent them some photos and they sent me back a thank you letter and autographed photo,” she recalled. “Then in 1976, before I moved to Arizona, I went and saw Cher at a benefit concert in Los Angeles. I ended up getting backstage and visiting with her. That same weekend, I went to a concert at the Troubadour Club in West Hollywood to see Dolly Parton.”
That also was a fortuitous concert.
“I was sitting up close to the stage and during her concert, she leaned down to me and said ‘I love your jacket. Come and visit me backstage after the show.’ I was wearing a disco colorful sparkling jacket…. She was so kind to me. I was a fan for life after that.”
She also became a concert photographer for life.
Year after year, as Paradee would see the same artists come back to town, she carried an envelope of photos from the year before, making sure the artist got that envelope.
Suddenly, her pictures ended up in fan club letters and magazines.
In the 1990s, she launched her magazine and secured a staff photographer position on KMLE Country radio and becoming a regular in Nashville as she photographer the legends of country music.
“I went to everything, took photos for everything, Nashville record companies and publicists sent me information to add,” Paradee said. “I then had the boards done in Wickenburg, then took it to Payson to get it printed, then my dad helped me delivering it all over.”
Her monthly magazine remains popular online, drawing thousands of hits a month, she said.
Finding Tinkerbell culminated a search of “many, many months” for a long-haired chihuahua that ended when her father saw a newspaper ad that turned out to have been posted by someone who lived only five minutes from her parents – a sign, Paradee said, that “it was meant to be that I found Tinkerbell.”
The book includes, naturally, Paradee’s pictures of the dog and her recollections.
And though she and her husband now have a Cocker Spaniel, she said the book has helped her fill the void left by Tinkerbell.
“I started thinking about all the great times we shared together, how much unconditional love and joy he gave me, every day of his life,” she said. “So, it actually therapeutically helped me with the grieving process to write about our life story together.”
That’s probably why she found writing the book was “no big challenge.”
“It really did just flow out of my heart,” Paradee said. “I did get a few tears in my eyes, happy tears.”