Christine Gentry

Pop, Jazz Broadway, Piano Baldwin Piano Company

Born: Cloverdale, AL

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame



Christine Gentry

By Shevelia McGuire • Photography by Jim Hannon

Last Updated:October 17. 2006 10:04AM

Published: October 25. 2006 3:30AM

“I believe Christine should be named ShoalsWoman of the Year because she is such an amazing representative of the Shoals area and our musical heritage. ” — Martine Wilson

Christine Gentry is certainly talented, but there’s much more to this 86-year-old, 4’ 11” dynamo.

She cannot remember a time when she did not plan to make music her career. She says, “Music was born in my soul.”

Her family has a long musical history; her father and Sam Phillips’ mother were siblings.

Gentry has always felt a need to give. As she traveled during her career, she asked her assistant, Cathy Lee, to arrange for her to play for charities.

During the Vietnam War, she played for a theater entertaining the big brass officers. She was excited to do her part improving the moral of soldiers during a difficult time in history.

These days, she is busy enriching the lives of many with her beautiful piano playing and generous spirit. She plays at various community centers, nursing homes, charitable functions and the W.C. Handy Music Festival to name just a few.

At 82, Gentry performed on television with Liberace after winning the Second Chance for Most Talented Senior. As she rehearsed with him, he remarked, “You sure are a talented little thing.”

Gentry began her musical career at 4, teaching herself to play piano. By 5, she was playing publicly even though her tiny little legs could not reach the pedals. She chuckles as she recalls how Myra Wallace, her niece, would lie under the piano and pump the pedals while she played.

The first time Gentry was on stage, she played during the intermission of a play at Cloverdale on a tall, old-fashioned piano. She struggled to sit on the stool because at 5 years old, she was too short. As she was playing, she toppled off the stool, then off the stage. She got up, brushed herself off, got back on stage and finished her song as if nothing had happened.

Gentry played by ear until she began studying music at 7. She went to school at Central High School and was the envy of many of her friends because she was often allowed to leave class to practice playing for various school events.

She worked at McCorkle’s (at that time, McCorkle’s was a music store) and played piano on the radio station WLAY. This was the beginning of her music career.

At 21, Gentry moved to New York to take electric organ lessons. During this time, she played on the center stage on a black grand piano at the Hickory House Restaurant, which at that time was very prestigious. While in New York, she stayed as busy as possible playing for charitable events, too.

Eventually, she moved to Birmingham and began a five-year stint playing every Sunday for WBLC television.

Her love of music has taken her all over the world. She has performed at grand openings for Baldwin Pianos, Royal Inns and Holiday Inns.

Gentry’s love for life, people and music is evident in ever area of her life and she shares happiness through her music.




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