STORIES OF REAL PEOPLE: Viola Smith, a Pioneering Woman Drummer Who Was Still Actively Drumming at Age 100 

People who have made it to the top of their careers are interesting to study. Precious few come back down the mountain to learn something new again. Collecting stories of real people embracing continuous learning is inspiring to me. I hope you benefit, as I do, from their example.

Early in her music career, Viola Smith became known as “America’s fastest girl drummer.” She spent decades challenging the barriers facing female musicians -- and the centenarian she still plays today. She is the drummer for a band in her home community.

Smith was born on November 29, 1912 in Mount Calvary, Wisconsin, the eight of ten children. Smith’s love of music began at a young age. Her parents ran a dance hall in Mount Calvary, Wisconsin and she and her nine siblings all played instruments. By the age of 12, her father had arranged for her and her other underage sisters to have permission to travel and tour as part of his band, the Schmitz Sisters Family Orchestra. Later renamed the Smith Sisters, their band became a favorite touring group and even shared a bill with the Andrews Sisters.

Christine Haskell, PHD has built her practice working with the insanely talented and highly creative across multiple sectors. In the Stories of Real People Series, you’ll find stories of real people doing extraordinary things, shareable joy, and links to the full source material.