3/1/1910 - 5/4/2011
Velzoe taught at PSGW from 1993 to 2006. Raised in Nebraska, Velzoe was one of five children born to a mother and father who played piano and trumpet, respectively. Velzoe's first instrument was the piano, which she says she learned without lessons--"I gathered it in with my mother's milk I think." At 13, Velzoe started playing trombone, teaching herself from an instruction book. She worked her way up to first chair in the girls' marching band at Omaha Tech High, and at 16, in 1926, became a full-time musician with the all-women group, The Pollyanna's Syncopators. This traveling orchestra was organized in 1923 by Ruth Randall in Lincoln, Nebraska. This group played ballrooms and theaters from the east coast to California. After The Pollyannas broke up under pressures of the Depression, Velzoe moved to California, where she spent many more successful years playing with top-notch bands. She played regular gigs with her quintet, Velzoe Brown and The Upbeats right up until her death in 2011 at age 101. When asked what she thought of living a musical life, Velzoe said, "I'm for it, honey!"