Stop us if you’ve heard this one: the devil went down to Georgia and rumor has it he was looking for a soul to steal.
Legend has it that he was stuck because he was far behind, so he was ready to make a deal. He met this young man who was sawing a violin. He played hot. And the devil jumped on the hickory stump and said, “Son, let me tell you what.”
The devil told this young man that he too was a violinist. And if the boy wanted to dare, she was willing to make a bet with him.
“Now you play a pretty good fiddle, boy, but give the devil his trap,” he said.
You see, the devil thought he was the better player, and he bet a golden violin against the young man’s soul that he could prove it.
According to legend, the boy’s name was Johnny and although it might have been a sin, he took the devil’s bet; one that Lucifer would soon regret because Johnny was the best ever.
But see, that’s why it’s a legend. It’s a story. And sometimes certain aspects of the story change or are moved or altered each time they are told. Sometimes the names are changed. The devil is in the details, after all.
Truth be told, the young man’s name wasn’t Johnny. In fact, it wasn’t the young man who made the deal with the devil all those years ago. This is the true story:
Brooke Latka was seven years old when she first picked up a violin.
He has loved music all his life; it’s the love he got from his parents.
“My dad always played classic rock and roll records at home when I was little,” Latka told K2 Radio News. “I loved dancing to music and my sister and I always loved singing songs. Music has been huge in my family and such a big part of my life.”
That love for music eventually developed into a desire to play it. Latka began taking private Suzuki violin lessons from Becky Mothersbaugh, concertmaster of the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra.
“I give him all the credit for my play,” he said. “He’s the reason I’m where I am today. When I was little, though, I never thought I’d be performing on stage for a living. But I knew that if I wanted to do these great things, if I wanted to perform in front of thousands of people, I had to dig deep, practice and take all the musical advice , which I got growing up.”
He loved music and was good at it. But she didn’t love performing as a child.
“I really struggled and still struggle with shyness,” Latka said. “It was really hard for me to do shows as a kid because I was so nervous it made me sick. I thought being so shy would stop me from going further in music.”
Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Latka started playing in the middle school and high school orchestra and eventually joined the Kelly Walsh High School choir as well.
“It wasn’t until ninth grade that my best friend told me I had to try out for Marcia Patton’s choir,” Latka said. “I almost didn’t do it because of my shyness and silent confidence, but I finally got the courage to do it and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Latka said that he met some of his closest friends and was also able to travel to New York to play at Carnegie Hall, one of the most sacred venues in the country.
Latka said she learned a lot during those pivotal high school years, and she owes much of her self-confidence to the lessons she learned in Marcia Patton’s choirs.
One of the things he learned was to take a risk because you never know where it will lead. Latka jumped at the chance to try out for the choir, and it was an opportunity that eventually led to Carnegie Hall.
“If I hadn’t tried to be in Mrs. Patton’s choir, I might not be in the music I am today,” Latka said. “Mrs. Patton believed in me and gave me the opportunity to sing in her choir. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t think I would be singing. I never even knew that I could sing until he helped bring it out of me.”
Mrs. Patton tends to do that with her students. Latka is just one of hundreds of students who have learned from him; not just lessons in music, but lessons in life.
Another lesson Latka learned in choir and just high school in general was to be kind to everyone because you don’t necessarily know what a person is going through.
“I was bullied my freshman year of high school and it taught me to be kind to everyone because I know how it feels to be bullied and it’s not a good feeling. We carry those traumatic moments for the rest of our lives. , and I hope kids understand the impact their actions have on other kids. “
Latka survived high school relatively unscathed. He attended and graduated from Casper College. He had been studying classical music for years, but after graduating he became more and more interested in “the violin”.
There’s really no difference between a violin and a violin – it’s all about how you play. While more classical music is played on the fiddle, the fiddle is used in bluegrass, country, folk, and other genres.
Latka found more of himself in violin music and started having fun. She joined an all-girl band and played local gigs all over Casper and beyond. He joined violin competitions and even started traveling a little, showing off his skills and most importantly having fun.
And that’s when he met Chancey Williams.
“I met Chancey at The Beacon Club during the College National Finals Rodeo,” Latka shared. “I told him I played the fiddle and had a show at the Casper Events Center before the rodeo. He had just come back from Nashville and finished his first album, ‘Honky Tonk Road,’ and he was starting his band. The Younger Brothers Band again”
Latka said Williams was looking for a fiddler, so he came to her show and like Jackson Maine found Ally, a star was born that night.
“It was kind of like an experiment,” Latka said. “He loved my playing and I joined the band a few weeks later and the rest is history.”
In fact, history is being made. As Chancey’s star grew, so did Latka’s star. They did it together with the rest of their band. They went from Casper to Nashville; From The Beacon Club to Cheyenne Frontier Days.
Latka himself went from the John F. Welsh Auditorium to the Grand Ole Opry.
“A lot of great artists have played at the Grand Ole Opry,” he said. “It means a lot to me to be able to perform on that stage. We’ve worked so hard over the years and I feel like our hard work and our music is being recognized. There haven’t been too many musicians from Wyoming to perform on that stage, so it’s definitely going to be a special moment and a great honour.”
15 years ago, Latka met Chancey Williams and played his violin for him. Was it love at first sight? We may never know. But it was certainly the start of something special.
Read more: Wyoming’s Chancey Williams makes his Grand Ole Opry debut
“I’d really like to thank Chancey,” Latka said. “I really don’t know how far I would have made it in the band without his kindness, positivity and encouragement over the years. He and the band have taken such good care of me for the last 15 years. , and I’m the luckiest girl to play music with my best friends, who I call family .”
When Brooke Latka first picked up her violin – no – her violin at just seven years old, she had no idea where it could lead her. Little did he know it would take him from the Kelly Walsh Chorus to the Grand Ole Opry. But that’s exactly where it led. So if she had any advice for any other little girl who might see her play and be inspired to pursue her own dream, what would Latka tell her?
“Just go,” Latka said. “Don’t let your comfort zone hold you back. You’ll never grow unless you take a risk and do something that scares you. Remember, if I can do it, you can do it.”
I can do it. That’s what he thought to himself and picked up his violin and played the most important song of his life. He was in a battle for his soul. The devil might have thought he was in the house of the rising sun, but he was not; he was inside his house.
And it wasn’t even in Georgia. The devil never made it south. He stopped in Wyoming and lost his violin to a girl named Brooke Latka. When he realized that he was defeated, he sadly laid the golden violin at his feet.
And finally, Brooke said, “Devil, just come back if you want to try again. Because I told you once, son of a bitch, that I’m the best there ever was.”
The Chancey Williams Band will play the Grand Ole Opry on April 22nd. Tickets are available here.
Concert of Hope, featuring Chancey Williams