Musical Grandparents

Both of my grandmothers played piano for SILENT MOVIES.  My Mother’s mother (Rosilla) May Bracken was also a bandleader.  She was proud to have played in a band with the great entertainer, TED LEWIS in Circleville, Ohio.

May Bracken

Here she is – playing “Tico Tico” in 1945.

Here is her business card.  Since it was considered unseemly for a woman to be a bandleader, she used her initials only, not wanting to scare away disapproving clients.

Charles Steelman (everyone in the family called him “Pop”) played drums, banjo and trombone and he was also a bandleader.  In fact, he and May Bracken (above) sometimes played gigs together before their children (my parents) even met.  Here’s one of his later bands.

Pop Steelman’s wife, Nell also played piano for silent movies at the same theater where Pop’s band played for the Vaudeville shows.