CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)- At the age of 95, Luella Barron is one of the world's oldest pianists, and enjoys entertaining her fellow residents at St. Barnabas Senior Living in Chattanooga.
Kimberly Rollins says her grandmother "taught herself to play piano" as a little girl, and has been pounding the keys for ninety years. Kimberly joins "Miss Luella" from time to time, belting out a soulful vocal to accompany her grandmother's gospel and jazz instrumentals.
Miss Luella says in addition to teaching piano to others, she played with a family group (The Barron Silvertones) for years, plus she played and sang "in a big band" and at church in the Chattanooga area. Widowed by her husband of fifty years, she revels in "playing songs with a good beat" at St. Barnabas, where normal business comes to a stop when she starts playing. Residents and workers alike stop what they're doing, gathering in the chapel room as they hear the music.
Her granddaughter says, "Music is so good for her. Everyone she grew up with is gone, so this music is good for her mind, body and spirit. It stirs her memories." Mary Pickett, a resident at St. Barnabas, encourages her to play. "I tell her, come on in here sweetheart and play for us. And she does, and it makes everyone smile."
Miss Luella says she doesn't like "the blues," but loves gospel, jazz, country and rock and roll. It's obvious she always has a song in her heart. As she wheels along the halls of St. Barnabas, she's singing. And while the words are sometimes hard to understand, there's a steady "boom-boom-boom" in her voice that signals another song is on the way.