|Springdale resident reaches for the stars
When Springdale Country Manor resident Jean Smith took to the stage on the evening of June 20 to sing in the Senior Star Competition, Maureen Imamovic, the Peterborough long-term care home’s administrator, knew she was watching a winner.
And she was right.
For her rendition of Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man of Mine, a song from the musical Show Boat, Smith walked away with first prize at the competition, which was sponsored by long-term care provider Chartwell and held at Peterborough’s Jackson Creek Retirement Residence.
Smith competed against seven other seniors.
“She gets up there . . . and she hit every high note and every low note,” says Imamovic, adding she is amazed at Smith’s talent. “(Watching) her up there, you realize that some people just have it.”
The annual event, which is open to people over 65, was part of Chartwell’s National Appreciation of Seniors Day. Other contests were held at Chartwell homes across Ontario.
Smith, a jovial, fun-loving 92-year-old, has been singing for 85 years and is a fan favourite with residents and staff at Springdale.
Despite years of honing her talent, and giving an outstanding performance, Smith says she was taken off guard when it was announced she had won the competition.
“I was stunned,” says Smith, who is a mother of three, grandmother of nine and great grandmother of 22 children.
Imamovic chuckles at Smith’s reaction.
“That was the beautiful part for me,” says Imamovic. “She is just so modest.”
Smith started singing when she was seven, but music has always been a part of her life.
“All my family were singers,” she says.
Smith has lived an active and interesting life and her career path has allowed her creative side to flourish.
In 1937, Smith started a musical radio show which aired on the CBC. Years later, she wrote commercials for CHEX-TV in Peterborough.
For the past three years, Smith and an ensemble of other singers have toured different long-term care homes to perform for residents. Sometimes her singing can has a therapeutic benefit for residents, she notes.
“If someone is feeling low or sad, I go and sing to them,” she says, adding she knows many songs off by heart and her repertoire includes many songs.
“I have a great memory,” she says. I can sing songs that I heard back in 1918.”
The top three finalists from each competition were videotaped and their performances will be judged by Chartwell’s corporate office. From there, 10 contestants from across the province will be chosen to compete in the finals held in Toronto in October.
Asked how she would feel about going to Toronto to compete, Smith remains modest.
“It’s just another day,” she says. “You must remember that I’ve been singing for 85 years.”