MID-SOUTH HEROES: Veteran cheers fellow VA patients with karaoke
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - You can hear music filling the halls of Memphis' Veterans Hospital every Tuesday, thanks to a kind soul who holds a special place in his heart for veterans.
For more than a decade, one man brings joy and entertainment to patients and staff with his gift of karaoke.
Mr. Eugene Perkins, a Vietnam-era veteran, certainly has the moves.
Decked out in his cowboy hat, belt, and boots, he performs before patients, staff, and onlookers in the cafeteria of the Memphis Veterans Hospital.
Every Tuesday for more than 10 years, Perkins--who has been a patient of the VA for 30 years--brings his cache of more than 100,000 songs to offer hope with rhythm and a smile to fellow veterans.
Perkins fought his share of health issues from bladder cancer, a 2005 diagnosis of Lymphoma, to his 2017 placement of a pacemaker for congestive heart failure.
"As soon as I was healthy enough, I started coming back and volunteering to do music," Perkins said.
Music can be therapeutic, lift spirits, and bring strangers together. Perkins knows that all too well.
"I've had thousands of people and I mean literally thousands of people come up and say how much it has lifted their spirits," Perkins said. "Because let's face it, this is a hospital. Most of the time when you show up here it's because of something going on."
The father of eight, grandfather of 33, and great-grandfather of three believes the weekly karaoke sessions are keeping him strong and has allowed him to build lasting friendships.
"We've been friends for more than 25 years and we met at karaoke," said Mary Sharp.
If you are a fellow patient or are just looking to be entertained during your lunch break, Perkins and his team can drop beats from country, opera, blues, jazz, gospel and R&B.
Aside from his smooth moves and melodic tones, Perkins also sprinkles in a dose of humor.
"I used to tell folks I'm 6-feet-6, 230 pounds, 75-year-old, tall, bald, black, good-looking man," Perkins laughed.
Mr. Perkins is a true example of doing something you love, not for recognition but because it could possibly help someone else.
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