Musician proves it’s never too late to publish a first book
March 5, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Newcastle resident Italene Gaddis may be 87 years old, but if you ask her, she doesn’t feel any older than she did as a child growing up in the South.
“You’re not a number,” she said. “People say ‘Are you really 87?’ and I say ‘No, not really, I’m Italene.’”
With her charming Southern drawl, the poet, musician and songwriter captivates with her quick wit and sunny disposition. She’s an endless source of encouraging words, uplifting songs and positive affirmations.
Gaddis already shares her inspirational songs and poems, performing weekly at senior centers and retirement homes around the area, but now she plans to motivate the entire world with the publication of her book of poems, “From My Heart to Yours.”
“I’m just deceitful enough to think I can change the world,” she said with a smile.
Most of her poems double as song lyrics, and with the help of her trusty autoharp Gaddis can bust out a tune at any moment. The poems span a variety of topics, including more reflective pieces that delve into personal life experiences, as well as lighter pieces, such as one that tackles Puget Sound car traffic.
Gaddis has been writing songs and poems her entire life, but it was not until she was 62 that she actually did something with it, entering and winning a songwriting contest that earned her a recording contract.
If you go
Italene Gaddis performs at Spiritwood
On the web
Learn more about Newcastle musician, songwriter and poet Italene Gaddis and buy her book of poems, ‘From My Heart to Yours,’ at www.italene.com.
“I really thought that if I covered my face and my hands that somebody would listen,” she joked.
Gaddis does not have the most melodious voice, she said, so she relies on the strength of the content in her original songs to dazzle audiences.
“My songs have something to say,” she said. “If I could teach the world to see with their heart and not their eyes through my music, what a better world we would have.”
It only takes Gaddis about 10 minutes to write a song or poem, but she attributes that to a higher power.
“You know I don’t think I write them. I think they’re given to me by the Heavenly Father,” she said as she pointed toward the sky.
The fiery 87-year-old credits much of her inspirational work to her mother, Sarah Elizabeth, who “raised her the right way.” Gaddis always wears a single flower in her hair as a tribute to her mother.
“The only rule that mother gave me when I was a little girl, she told me that I could do anything I wanted to do as long as it didn’t hurt me or anyone else,” she said. “My mother, I think, was an angel, because the way she raised me has made my life so much happier and easier to live.”
Some have called Gaddis a singing philosopher because of her stirring music that encourages positivity and happiness above all else. Conflict, hate and negativity just aren’t part of her vocabulary.
Gaddis is flattered by those kind words, but she is just focused on living in the now and soaking up all that life has to offer, she said.
“I didn’t plan any of this. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” she said. “I’m just trying to tell people to love one another.”