“I love to entertain. I love to sing.”
So says Frank Rossi, an 85 year old Kansas City resident whose live has been full of music since he started playing the violin as a third grader in Des Moines. All the way through school, Frank experimented with different instruments, including piano and accordion. He even played the baritone horn in high school.
As happens with so many of us, Frank did have some difficulty finding time for music as a young adult, while he was trying to make his way in the world. After time serving in the U.S. Navy, Frank returned to the Kansas City area to run a service station, and working ninety hours a week didn’t leave much time for that.
Fortunately, at the age of 32, he married Shirley – a lifelong ballroom dancer – and began making time again for dancing and playing music. By the time he retired in 1987, Frank was ready to learn something new. So, he took ten lessons on the banjo and started playing in the Kansas City Banjo Band, a group that started in 1972. Not long after that, Frank picked up the electric bass, again taking ten lessons to get him started, then sharpening his skills through playing with the band. Check out this photo of the group from Frank’s first year in the group:
Frank still speaks with great enthusiasm about playing with the banjo band, even though the group is down to three regular members, with no performances on the schedule. These days, Frank continues to share his musical gifts throughout the community by performing with a pianist at area nursing homes and singing regularly at the open mic session with a country dance band in Kearney, Missouri every Tuesday. Frank and Shirley dance together at least once a week, and Shirley is generous in letting other women share her dance partner.
When I asked Frank what he would say to other seniors considering singing or dancing or playing a new instrument, his answer was short and sweet: “Do it.” It’s clear that music and dancing are a big part of keeping the Rossis’ lives active and full. As Frank says, “I want to enjoy this until the day I die.” Just from this short conversation with these two, I can’t imagine it any other way.