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This decades-long musical friendship is a unique type of Valentine’s Day story : NPR


In Southeast Washington, one musical duo — an 82-year-old singer and a 78-year-old piano participant — has been inseparable on stage for nearly 30 years.



JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

In Richland, a metropolis in southeastern Washington, there’s a musical duo that is well-known for acting at weddings, golf equipment and musical revues. Its members are of their late 70s and early 80s, and so they have been taking part in collectively for almost 30 years. On this Valentine’s Day, Northwest Information Community’s Anna King has their story – a tribute to a partnership of a unique sort.

(SOUNDBITE OF PIANO MUSIC)

ANNA KING, BYLINE: The second Saturday of every month on the Emerald of Siam, a restaurant in Richland, you will hear 82-year-old Mary Lou Gnoza…

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “MY FUNNY VALENTINE”)

MARY LOU GNOZA: (Singing) My humorous Valentine.

KING: …And her piano man, Stevie Haberman. He is 78. Mary Lou has brief, brick-red hair and wears pink lipstick. Rhinestones sparkle on her cane and nails. Stevie’s received much less flash in a primary, collared shirt and pants. When he is taking part in, he wears a critical expression, absorbed within the music. However between songs, he is fast to crack jokes.

GNOZA: He makes me giggle. And typically it is actually onerous to sing while you’re laughing (laughter). However I take pleasure in it very a lot.

KING: Mary Lou and Stevie have been arrange in 1996 by a fellow musician for an web cafe gig. Mary Lou, a seamstress with an eye fixed for good apparel, initially wasn’t impressed with Stevie. It was winter, and he walked in carrying an enormous, retro parka and looking cap with ear flaps. However she determined to sing with him anyway.

GNOZA: He mentioned, what do you wish to do? And I mentioned, “Extra Than You Know” in F.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “MORE THAN YOU KNOW”)

GNOZA: (Singing) Greater than you already know, greater than you already know.

It went from – any person’s taking part in the piano – to – oh, my God, hearken to that man play. And it was like he was respiratory on the identical time I used to be. It is like we would been working collectively for years.

(SOUNDBITE OF PIANO MUSIC)

KING: After that, they turned inseparable on stage, taking part in on the Emerald but in addition a number of nights every week at native bars, venues and personal occasions. They’ve slowed down a bit as they’ve aged, however they nonetheless play collectively at the least as soon as a month.

STEVE HABERMAN: Partnership – you already know, I am married to the gorgeous Deborah. So Deborah is my spouse. Mary Lou is my second spouse. She’s my mistress.

GNOZA: Oh, cease.

HABERMAN: Mistress of music, OK.

KING: They usually’ve been by some robust occasions collectively, like when Mary Lou misplaced her grownup son, Tom, nearly 10 years in the past. On the funeral…

GNOZA: Steve simply performed. It simply felt so good. It was so comforting. Right here we’re happening as regular.

KING: Through the years, they’ve additionally needed to cope with some well being points. Mary Lou broke a bone in her leg, and Stevie has Parkinson’s. These mobility issues imply they’ve to seek out buddies to drive them to the gigs. However regardless of these challenges, after about 27 years of taking part in collectively, they’ll nonetheless rip on stage. For NPR Information, I am Anna King in Richland.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “MY FUNNY VALENTINE”)

GNOZA: (Singing) Every day is Valentine’s Day.

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NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This textual content is probably not in its closing kind and could also be up to date or revised sooner or later. Accuracy and availability might fluctuate. The authoritative file of NPR’s programming is the audio file.

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