My grandmother Laura was a pianist in silent movie houses in and around New York City in the late 1920s. Although she didn't read music, she was an excellent musician who played pop tunes of her day and classic tunes from early jazz --- on the spot, by request.
By the time I was three or four years old, "Nana" and I regularly played piano four hands at home -- and later on, at bridge get-togethers she threw for her friends, often accompanying any who wanted to sing during breaks between card games.
She'd name a tune, point out a starting melody note, throw me into the deep end by gleefully starting to play the accompanying chords, and we'd be off to the races.
I couldn't be more grateful for the early music lessons she gave me, and for the intrepid attitude she always displayed in accompanying singers and figuring out new tunes.
Over the past few decades, I began
accompanying friends at house
parties, after concerts in small
venues, and in pubs as closing time
neared. It was always a complete
blast and 100% addictive for singer
and pianist alike. I began searching
for a way to somehow develop and
formalize the idea; although I've
been an active musician and music
educator for years, no musical activity
I've engaged in that is more fun than
Eventually, I realized the only way forward was to "just do it." Gate City Piano Karaoke started in 2009 in Nashua, NH, growing slowly but steadily among singers who appreciate the fun, music-centric, and mutually supportive setting provided by their fellow vocalists.
Thanks for reading!
Elise MacDonald, accompanist