Jessi Whitten celebrates another OpenAir birthday.

(Photo: CPR / OpenAir)

By the time I turned three, all I could do is start to string simple sentences together and unlock mom’s paint closet.

OpenAir, on the other hand, has hosted hundreds of studio sessions, presented tons of local and national shows, given away thousands of concert tickets, partnered with CPT12 to make a local music TV show, and grown our library to nearly 25,000 songs.

Colorado’s new music source has put my three year old self to shame.

When I showed up for my first day of work at Colorado Public Radio on Sept. 7, 2011, it was just me and Mike Flanagan in our little corner of the building. Most of the other staff had been lined up but had yet to start, so we sat down in eerie silence that buzzed with excitement, wondering how to piece this massive puzzle together.

That would be the last day of silence at OpenAir. Since then it’s been non-stop music research, auditioning, live performances, interviews and heated discussions.

In our three years together, there’s one memory that will always elicit a sudden rush of pride and gratitude. I remember it as a perfect tableau: a scene set with a dozen talented and generous local musicians all gathered in our CPR Performance Studio with our inspired and selfless sound engineer Dave Fender running the show from behind glass.

For our first birthday celebration we staged an event called the Super Sessions, where we asked two teams of local musicians to work together to manipulate each other’s work, create new songs or rehearse covers for a massive live music performance on our birthday.

It was a large and chaotic undertaking, but the teams led by Mike Marchant and Steve Faceman and including folks like Carl Sorensen, Scott McCormick, Sid Pink and Kalyn Heffernan took time out of their lives to celebrate and share their efforts with us.

As dreamed up by Mr. Fender himself, the whole two hour extravaganza ended with a spontaneous cover of “All You Need is Love.” I’m choking up remembering it, but at the time, I was in full sloppy tears with my arm across Corey Jones’ shoulder as I stood among some of Colorado’s finest.

Audio: OpenAir super session artists cover "All You Need Is Love"

Three years. It’s been a lot of work to get to this point, and there’s still so much to accomplish for the sake of the incredible people who make, support, and listen to music in Colorado. What exactly is ahead is difficult to say, but with music lovers and creators as passionate and creative as those in the OpenAir family, I’m sure to have another sloppy-teared moment in the near future.