106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It

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Musicians rejoice! Legendary percussionist Viola Smith might have discovered the secret for a happy, long and healthy life: energetic drumming as well as the moderate consumption of good wine.

106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It

Musicians rejoice! Legendary percussionist Viola Smith might have discovered the secret for a happy, long and healthy life: energetic drumming as well as the moderate consumption of good wine.


Now aged 106 and actively drumming until quite recently in a Costa Mesa band named Forever Young Band: America’s Oldest Act of Professional Entertainers, Smith’s remarkably long career has spanned the length and breadth of modern music from jazz to swing, rock n’ roll and beyond.


Born Viola Schmitz on November 29, 1912, in Mount Calvary, Wisconsin, she was one of ten kids. The whole family studied piano, and in the 1920s their dad got Viola and her six sisters together to form the Smith Sisters Orchestra.


Viola was first widely noticed when the sisters performed on the Major Bowes Amateur Hour, a 1930s radio version of America’s Got Talent. In 1938 she and her saxophonist sister Mildred started an all-girl orchestra called The Coquettes, that performed until 1942 when Mildred got married. The Coquettes is possibly what Smith is best known for, with the all-girl swing band scoring several well-known swing tunes during the early days of the war.


After she moved to New York City, she joined Phil Spitalny’s Hour Of Charm Orchestra, another famous all-girl orchestra. Viola's ability to read music fluently, along with her overall musicianship was such that she later played with the NBC Symphony Orchestra, one of the leading orchestras of the day.


After Viola played for President Harry Truman’s inauguration in 1949, she then formed her own band called “Viola and Her Seventeen Drums.” Then, Viola turned her attention to Broadway, where she played in the original production of Cabaret.


Speaking to Dan Barret earlier this year, she mused about her career and fondly remembered several of the other legendary musicians she played with. Viola also recalled her article in Down Beat magazine titled, “Give Girl Musicians A Break!” that she wrote at the height of World War Two. Having always been a vocal voice for women in music, Viola strongly campaigned for bands who lost male musicians to the fight in Europe to give female players the opportunity to replace them. The article sparked a nationwide debate about female musicians and the prejudice that many men had about them at the time.


Regarding her longevity, she explained that having only smoked briefly, she believes that the full-body exercise involved in drumming, as well as the odd tipple, has contributed to her being fit and healthy.


“I’m a drinker, but definitely always in moderation,“ Viola explained in the interview. “Even Dad: he had a tavern in his nightclub in Wisconsin. He’d even bring kids in the family wine. So, we’d have wine (with) dinner. I still drink wine now.”


106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It

106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It

106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It

106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It

106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It

106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It

106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It

106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It

106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It

106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It

106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It

106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It

106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It

106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It

106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It


Reference: Artfido

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Thinking Humanity: 106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It
106-Year-Old Woman Has Been Drumming For 80 Years, And She's Still Got It
Musicians rejoice! Legendary percussionist Viola Smith might have discovered the secret for a happy, long and healthy life: energetic drumming as well as the moderate consumption of good wine.
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