Wednesday, November 01, 2017

My Tormented Heart: Tribute To A Lady Pianist

Image is for illustration only
A Mike Bangar Music Story:

Near 2,200  readers
since 1st Nov. '17

Hi Andy, 

Just to share another interesting episode for your blog. This true story that happened more than 40 years ago came to mind.
Michael Bangar

For those who lived, played or hung around the East Coast Road (Katong) area during that time will remember this lady everyone knew as Water Mary (we never got to know her real name) reason being, that whenever she was anywhere near large amounts of water, she would just immerse herself in it and get soaking wet. She loved it when it rained.

She used to live in one of the terraced houses in Katong and her regular hang-out was at the church which was across the road from her home. Most of the time when she walked out of the church, her clothes would be wet.

As the reader can tell by now, she was not her normal self. The story went that one day before a church service and while she and her fiance were crossing the road, they were involved in a hit-and-run accident. Witnesses who saw it happened said he died in her arms shortly afterwards. The incident could have resulted in her confused state of mind.
Terraced homes in Singapore. A familiar scene in the 1960's
She was a very friendly person and most people who knew her treated her well, including me.

For a while in the mid-70's, after I had a family, we lived with my brother-in-law in the same area. He owned a Lawry organ and an upright Yamaha piano. One afternoon while all of us were at home and my brother-in-law was tinkling on his piano, we heard a lady's voice calling out loudly at the gate. It was this lady.

She asked if she could come in and join the fun. Mind you she spoke good English. When he invited her in, he asked if she could play any one of the two instruments available.
Liberace plays 'Chopsticks' YouTube Video from pianoplaylist.

"Yes," she replied without hesitation and proceeded straight towards the piano. And when she started to hit those ivories, we all went, "Oh my goodness!" 

She was all at ease on the keyboard as her fingers flew, playing in the style of Winifred Atwell.  All the popular piano tunes of the day came to her mind. And by heart too!

A few of the songs that she played included, My Tormented Heart (Toselli Serenade), Chopsticks and other piano hits by Atwell and Liberace. There were many more numbers that were played that afternoon. 
But I can't recall all at the moment. Her solo performance went on for more than an hour and our home was filled with her selection of melodies.

After that, she left just as abruptly as when she came in but thanked us gratefully. Even our neighbours, who had gathered to watch her performance, were mesmerized and dumbfounded by her talent. 

No one knew she could play so well. I still remember her in her sarong kebaya. She could have been in her late 40's or early 50's.
Winifred Atwell (1914-1983) n Liberace (1919-1987)
Sadly, a few years later we heard she had passed on. We have never heard or seen any lady play the piano like she did, ever. 

I hope this story keeps her memory alive. My family and I will remember her always. 

Thank you, Andy.

Copyright Article by Michael Bangar.
The images and gif are for illustrations only.
Images: Google.
My Tormented Heart: Winifred Atwell.

        (Try to play this song as you read Mike Bangar's story...)

My tormented heart
Cries out I still love you
Though I know you're gone
Your love lives on
To haunt my memory.
(1st verse).


henri gann said...

Nice story Mike. Good read. Thank you !

Jane D. (Manitoba, Canada) said...

Wow! What an amazing story!
Also loved the music links ... Liberace was a marvellous entertainer and fabulous pianist, and Sarah Vaughan ... what a voice!

Hope all is well with you and yours.


Brother Andy,
After reading the blog my wife added that her late Aunt Polly's late husband was related to the lady in the story.

David Lim said...

Yes, I know who she was. I was a volunteer at church... cleaning n doing housekeeping on Saturday mornings. After we mopped the floor clean n dry she would come into the church. At the doors are found holy water... She would use it to sprinkle on her feet and footwear, and dirty the floor.

We knew her condition and would just tell her politely to refrain from doing so. Sometimes she would listen but sometimes no. Yes, she's quite good at the keyboards. Sometimes she helps herself to the piano n play.

God, Bless Her Soul.

Benson said...

Great videos. Thanks, bro.

Benson said...

A great nostalgic sad song that touches your heartstrings. I heard it when I was young. Tks bro.

anonymous said...

Very sad story and song MY TORMENTED HEART, very sad. Lived along East Coast Road.

anonyous said...

I was a Geylang boy and I am not familiar with that area and the story does not make any recollection.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you all for the comments. It is indeed a sad story and we must thank Michael for taking time and effort to write it.


That's a nice recollection of fond memories when times were simpler and an awareness of others around you. Unlike today which personifies a self-centred society that is anti-social.

It's nice to see Winifred Atwell, Liberace referred to. These were pianistic entertainers and I wonder how many will remember them.

Locally does anyone remember Esther Singleryan (not sure of spelling), Trudy Connor or Eddie Gomez. They were our Singapore pianistic entertainers.