Woman, 90, performs as Tina Turner at nursing homes

Sylvia Hudson, 90, dons her Tina Turner outfit and wig, just as she sometimes does when singing in area nursing homes. (Frederick News-Post/Graham Cullen)

Sylvia Hudson has performed on a float in the Thurmont Fourth of July parade, and as the Potato Lady, she has sung for pennies to buy potatoes for other countries.

The 90- year-old Lewistown resident has also been known to don a blond wig, black-sequined minidress and fishnet stockings to impersonate Tina Turner for assisted living groups and nursing homes.

She even dances to “Proud Mary.”

“I like Tina Turner, and I like her singing,” Hudson said. “Everywhere I go, even at my doctor’s office, they call me ‘Tina.'”

She appeared at her doctor’s office dressed as Tina Turner for Halloween one year, and the nickname stuck.

“The doctor himself said, ‘Wow, what legs!'” she said.

Hudson has been singing since she was a little girl. She still sings in her church choir every Sunday and has been a member of the Thurmont Canaries for 17 years.

“I just love to sing,” Hudson said. “I sing by myself in the house, and I whistle. It makes me happy. I’m just a happy person. Life is something you must enjoy.”

Hudson sang “On Eagle’s Wings” for her granddaughter’s wedding.

“It’s my favorite because it’s based on Psalm 91, and I began hearing it and liking it a long time ago,” she said.

At 90, Hudson exudes the kind of energy you would expect from someone much younger, said the Rev. Elva Hurst, pastor of Lewistown United Methodist Church.

“She’s the life of the community, and when she shows up on Praise Night, people can’t wait to see what she’s going to do, whether sing or whistle,” Hurst said. “She whistles beautifully. When she’s not here, it’s a light going out. She’s in real good shape and she’s full of life. She gives us all energy and hope, and we say, ‘If Sylvia can do it, we can.'”

When her daughter, Jeanne Graves, asked about a recent doctor’s visit, Hudson said, “Oh, I have bad news. I’m in great health and I’m going to live a lot longer.”

That response reflects her mother’s humor and zest for life, Graves said. Hudson enjoys writing poems for special church and community events. The last line in her latest poem, written for her 90th birthday, which was celebrated Saturday, are: “Praise God, I made it to 90.”

Except for high blood pressure and arthritis, Hudson said her health is OK, and she believes in the power of prayer.

“I would never have made it this far without prayer,” said the chairwoman of the church’s prayer chain.

She values her faith and her favorite Bible verse is, “I can do anything through God who strengthens me.”

Sometimes she even walks to church.

“I can walk to church, but sometimes my legs don’t want to, but I try,” she said. “I walk up and down 14 steps seven times a day, and my doctor told me that’s enough exercise.”

People always nudge her to eat, Hudson said.

“I like to eat most everything, but my portions have gotten smaller as I’ve gotten older,” Hudson said. “I like fruits and vegetables because they’re good for you. Of course, everything is so expensive.”

Hudson was born in Cottage City, in Prince George’s County. She lived in Washington as a child and an adult before moving to Wheaton with her husband and children. She was a secretary for the Teamsters union and then became a stay-at-home mom. Dale Hudson, her husband of 61 years, died in 2009. Their two children are Graves, 63, and a son, Donald, 71.

Hudson gave up driving about three years ago, “instead of letting someone tell me it’s time to stop driving.”

The lady who loves to sing is looking forward to wearing a big hat on Easter Sunday.

“I’ve had a lot of interesting parishioners,” Hurst said, “but Sylvia is one of a kind.”

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