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Construction worker gets musical with debut album

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willona-close-up.jpgBy Heather Posey
Staff Writer

With music in her soul, Signal Hill resident Willonna Green has put her passion to work on her debut album So Special, but as a new artist awaiting her big break, the jazz-and-blues artist spends her days as a heavy-equipment operator for a construction company. Yet with a song in her heart, Green combines her two worlds in her music to tell the story of her “construction blues.”
Born in Pontiac, Michigan, Green states that she has always had an interest in music. She studied and practiced the saxophone and flute and also took voice lessons at the Detroit Community Music School. willonna-album.jpg
“It was just in my heart to play music,” said Green.
Though her love of music convinced her to play professionally, she realized that she still had to pay the bills. So the self-proclaimed tomboy worked as an auto mechanic until the late 1980s, when she decided to pack up her bags and head off to California to further pursue her dreams.
After moving to “the land of opportunity” in 1987, Green made musical connections and also a career change, moving from auto repair to construction. As a heavy-equipment operator, she felt that she could handle “hanging with the boys” whilst maneuvering a Caterpillar, bulldozer or forklift.
construction.jpgGreen has experienced significant milestones in both her music career and in her construction work, from playing alongside established artists to forming the all-girl group Hangin’ With the Girls to helping build the Getty Center Museum, during which time she was inspired to write “Construction Blues,” a song she felt said what no other woman would openly say to men about men.
“I helped build the Getty Museum from 1994 through 1996. I was a forklift operator, and I ran one of the bigger forklifts called the skytrack forklift that has the outriggers, the extended boom. On that job there’s very few women and there was about 2,000 men or more during the time it was being built but I had seen over 500 or 600 from the time I was working every day,” she said. “When I would see them I would start smiling and thinking about them, then I thought, ‘I should write a song about this.'”
So she did, and when Green let those on the job hear her original track, she said that they fell in love with it. She is very proud of her track and recommends that all who pick up her album listen to “Construction Blues.” “It’s among the songs that come from a lot of situations. I like to think of a lot of different things when I write,” she said.
So Special can be found online at for $11.95. For more information on Willonna Green, visit

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Construction worker gets musical with debut album