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Artist Spotlight: Guy Zimmerman

By Spotlight Feature

When Guy sold his guitar and music shop in 1997, he planned to enjoy a quiet retirement with his wife. Instead, he got a call from a friend and fellow musician, Jack. He wanted Guy to play some gigs with him in local nursing homes.

He said yes. And so began his “retirement”: performing regularly, learning new skills, and giving back to the community one song at a time.

Guy (left) and Jack perform for a room-bound resident.

Guy grew up listening to his older siblings singing with the radio. Finally, at age ten, he started music lessons.  “Once I picked up the guitar, I never put it down.” As soon as he graduated high school, he joined the American Federation of Musicians and played professionally in local venues, picking up skills in ukulele and banjo. It wasn’t long before he owned a guitar shop that offered up to 300 music lessons a week in peak seasons. His hard work as a business owner supported his family for 32 productive years.

So what would tempt him into an equally active retirement? A good friend and an opportunity to give back. “It’s given me energy,” he says.

As one of our longest-standing artists, Guy knows the secrets of the trade. What does it take to play for Audiences Unlimited? A broad repertoire, he says, and an ability to listen to your audience. Guy recalls experiencing major musical turning points, from Big Bands to the Beatles and onward. He credits this for his set list spanning multiple styles and genres: a resource that helps him meet requests of his varying audiences. Does he have a favorite? “I like to play them all! That’s the fun part. You can keep it fresh.”

Playing for aging audiences has its challenges, including communicating with people who are hearing impaired. He says the key to interaction is paying attention to the audience and adjusting accordingly—both volume and genre. “You have to pick up on what kind of patient you’re playing for. . . . We make quite a study of what will reach these people.”

Guy knows the value of his work and its impact.  “Nothing makes us happier than to see someone smile, sometimes when they can’t communicate.”

What does Guy have to say about his 20 years with AUI? “You’re really doing a good thing when you can bring a little joy, a little smile, to these people. It’s not about the money—you’re giving back.”

Guy Zimmerman will celebrate 20 years with us this fall.

Anna Ross Joins the Conversation on WBOI

By News and Updates

Today, our executive director is on the air! WBOI’s Julia Meek interviewed Anna Ross as well as Melissa Dessaigne of The Summit about the West Rudisill campus and all the community-minded partners who are onsite.

Tune in to WBOI to learn about what has been growing on the former Taylor University campus and how it helps nonprofits large and small to grow. The collaborative partnerships are meant to improve the ’07 neighborhood and the surrounding community as a whole.

The conversation airs this evening. You can also listen to the extended audio here.

Photo Op: DaVita Dialysis

By News and Updates

Last Friday, the residents at Woodview Assisted Living were prepared for their regular Audiences Unlimited program. Ken and Carol, our musical duo, set up their equipment for the midday performance in the dining room, and the seats around the tables began to fill up as residents walked or were wheeled in for the show.But AUI had planned a special addition, and Executive Director Anna Ross showed up for the event.

Representatives from DaVita Summit City Dialysis surprised the crowd by adding an awards ceremony to the show: they presented a check to Ms. Ross in support of music programming. After the gift presentation, the residents enjoyed Ken and Carol’s smooth music. Our volunteer photographer snapped some great shots of the event, showcasing the generosity in our community and its impact on our special audiences.

We’re grateful for DaVita’s gift and their effortsto  improve the physical and emotional wellness of people in Fort Wayne and the surrounding area. Their donation goes toward supporting our music and arts programming in residential and health care facilities.

AUI Founder Receives Liddell Award

By News and Updates

On December 2nd, Lillian Embick received the Stanley H. Liddell award from whatzup magazine in honor of her significant and lasting impact on arts and culture in Allen County: founding Audiences Unlimited, Inc. and volunteering as executive director for over forty years. Without a doubt, we at AUI  owe our four decades of operation to her amazing vision and tireless work.

In addition to receiving the 28th award for the lasting impact of her tens of thousands of volunteer hours, Lillian also shared her amazing story in a full-length profile feature. From a childhood of loneliness to a life saturated by the joy of music and service, her unique life and legacy deserve recognition.

At Audiences Unlimited, we owe our continued existence to her passion and dedication. Thank you, Lillian, for bringing the arts to the elderly during your 43 years of tireless service!

Read the full article here: whatzup: Bringing Comfort and Joy

INFort Wayne Mini Documentary!

By News and Updates

This week, INFortWayne shines the spotlight on Audiences Unlimited. Their great video highlights the significant contribution our performers make in the lives of residents who live in healthcare and daycare facilities.  Hear from activity directors at Kingston Residence and Signature Health Care, and get a glimpse of what our daily programming looks like!