100-year-old pianist plays weekly concerts on Facebook Live for thousands of viewers
A 100-year-old pianist from New Jersey is making the most of the COVID-19 lockdown by performing weekly concerts on Facebook Live to an audience of thousands.
Henry Shapiro got his start playing the piano at restaurants along Lake Hopatcong in 1933.
“Well I started playing piano when I was 5 because my mother asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and I said I wanted to play piano,” he says.
Shapiro, the son of Russian immigrants whose parents owned a dry good store in Dover, started playing piano professionally at age 13.
“I got paid 75 cents for playing three hours. I thought I was wealthy,” he says.
Shapiro spent decades playing piano at nightclubs, restaurants and concert halls in New York and New Jersey, including his own 12-piece Henry Shapiro Band.
But it turns out that 80-plus years playing professionally was just a warmup because these days Shapiro is paying to the largest audiences of his career. Every Saturday afternoon, Shapiro hosts a Facebook Live performance and is seen and heard by thousands of people across the world.
“Well you hear from people in like the Netherlands or Australia or other places like that, you figure what the heck is going on? I try to select the songs for Facebook that a lot of people know throughout the years. It brings back a lot of memories,” Shapiro says.
Shapiro was in the Air Corps in the 1940s and had a day job as a shop owner. He has several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A drive-by birthday celebration took place last weekend at Lake Hopatcong to celebrate his 100th birthday.