89-year-old grandma inspires grandchildren, won't 'give in'

Jo Masters has acted on screen and stage, but longs to publish one of her songs

No one has inspired Richmonds Georgina Patko more than her mother.

While many people give up on their dreams, Patkos 89-year-old mother, Jo Masters, refuses to.

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I think shes such an amazing mentor, said Patko, an ex-Brit who has lived in Richmond for more than 25 years. Mom never gives up she paints, she dances. Her passion for life and her tenacity is truly inspirational. She personifies the heart and strength required to never give up.

Recently she entered five original songs in the UK Oldie Composers Songwriting competition, and one was chosen.

Masters has had an artistic streak since she was a toddler, playing piano and performing on stage since the age of four.

She went on to study ballet at what is now Londons famed Royal Academy of Dancing with teacher Judith Espinosa, and tap with famed choreographer Buddy Bradley (renowned for working with Hollywood stars such as Lucille Ball and Mae West).

In her 20s, Masters had roles in movies such as Stepping Toes and Talking Feet. On the stage, she was in a production of Midsummer Nights Dream and was the understudy to Jessie Matthews in Aladdin at Birmingham.

Not only that, Masters has had airplay on the radio and appeared in a made-for-TV musical.

The one thing that has eluded this talented senior is to have one of her songs published.

Earlier this year, Masters submitted five of her original songs to the Oldie competition. On Dec. 12, Masters found out House of Tears, a jazz/blues number, made the shortlist at number 18 of 50.

The News reached Masters via email and this is what she said about her winning entry, I wrote House of Tears some time ago. My husband and both the girls were away for a short while and I was in the house alone that prompted the hook. The rest of the story must have come from my observations of how many couples were breaking up.

Masters said although her parents didnt pursue the arts as a career, she believes her creative side came from her early exposure to the arts.

My parents werent particularly artistic, though my dad did play the piano, after a fashion, and the ukulele, she said. My mother was very interested in the theatre and musicals especially.

Meanwhile, Patko said her father Morris Masters is in awe of her.

They have been married 64 years and Dads convinced she keeps them both young, she quipped.

Patko laughed and added that she doesnt know if she should be blown away by her mothers tenaciousness or not.

She will be 90 in June, and when I asked her if she had any regrets she said, I wish Id get one of my songs published.

Her whole family couldnt be prouder of the 89-year-old songwriter.

I am very proud of my nanny and her accomplishments both past and present, said her grandson Josh Patko.

Granddaughter Tessa Patko went on to say, This is all really exciting. Ever since I can remember shes always been such a positive influence, always singing and dancing and making those around her smile. Im very proud of my Nan. Best of luck during the competition you deserve to win. Another great accomplishment for the memory bank!! Good job Nan.

Yet another granddaughter, Zoë Patko, added, I am so proud of my nanny for following her dreams. She is a true inspiration to all of us and I hope she wins the competition. At 89, she still has the heart of a 19 year old.

Patko approached the News to help her mother realize her dream.

To do that, Patko said shes hoping Richmondites will listen to her mothers song, and if they like it, vote for it online.

Mom wrote a childrens opera, Tommy Tune, in which she wrote, Dont give in, you can win, youve the melody we long to hear, you cant be like those who disappear, fading into the atmosphere. Thats how she lives her life.

For more information about Masters, or to listen and vote for her winning entry, Heart of Tears, visit www.croozy.com/jo, until Friday, Dec. 30. You can listen to the song on YouTube by logging onto www.youtube.com/user/croozyVideo. For more information about the competition, visit www.oldiecomposers.com. If Masters song is one of the top four, she can win a recording at a top London studio with professional musicians. The tracks will be made available to download and a CD of the songs produced for sale.

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