For Entertainer, Second Career Focuses on Seniors
by KRISTEN ARMSTRONG, Staff Writer
|Arlington seniors who want to hear some
rousing musical entertainment should check out keyboardist and trumpeter
Fred Brooks when he performs at local senior centers.
Born and raised in Arlington, Brooks is a senior himself - age 67 - but he keeps himself young by performing all over the county.
He picked up trumpet in seventh grade at Hoffman-Boston School. His father was a pianist in a three-piece combo, and Brooks learned keyboard from him by ear.
Brooks didn't pursue a full-time musical career, and worked for the U.S. Postal Service instead, but he kept up with his playing on nights and weekends in the house band for the Howard Theater, and for local groups, as well as postal functions, weddings, funerals and church services.
He always had a soft spot for seniors while working for the Postal Service, and bringing music to them later in his life was a natural progression.
“When I was a mailman, I always associated with seniors and the needs they had,” he said. “I'd help them open their pill boxes or tell jokes, anything to make their day better, and that carried over in my music.”
Brooks often performs with Rosalie More, a former resource music teacher for Arlington's public schools, and they try to include their senior audiences in as much of the musical action as possible.
“I enjoy all types of music. My ears are constantly open, and here [at the senior centers] I play things so the seniors will get up and dance,” Brooks said. “I tell them it's their day, their hour. If they want, they can come up and sing, or recite something.”
Brooks started performing for Arlington's seniors in 2002 and hasn't really looked back since.
“Getting up in front of them and playing trumpet, my energy goes out to them, and their energy comes back to me,” he said.
In addition to playing at senior centers such as Walter Reed, Langston-Brown, Culpepper Garden and Aurora Hills, Brooks also plays gospel music at Mount Olivet United Methodist Church, drives limousines on weekends, and likes to go on the occasional cruise.
Despite his busy schedule, Brooks said he truly enjoys playing for Arlington's seniors, and plans on continuing for as long as possible.
“Sometimes I start somber, but then I can start rockin' and rollin' like Ray Charles,” Brooks said.
Fred Brooks often is joined by Rosalie More when he performs for local seniors.
(Photo by Kristen Armstong)