Anne Rowe of Midland with one of her ceramics. Picture: Anita McInnes

Midland singer retires after 50 years

Singer Anne Rowe says she regrets nothing she has done and that she's had a very fulfilling life.
April 24, 2024

AFTER performing for more than 50 years singer Anne Rowe of Midland has called it a day.

Ms Rowe sang at her last concert with musical group NAK at the Midland Performing Arts Centre on March 24 for a Swan Rotary fundraiser to raise money for the end polio now campaign.

As a child when Ms Rowe was struck down with polio at the age of two-and-a-half she was paralysed and could not get out of bed.

“Six doctors came and assessed me the seventh diagnosed polio,’’ she said.

“It was not known in Sri Lanka where I was born.

“I remember at the age of three getting pads put on my legs and electric shocks – at the age of three quite something for a child.

“I missed out on a lot of schooling in primary years and in high school my sisters hated having to carry my school bag because it was heavy I suppose.’’

Her first job was with the Crown Law Department in conveyancing and on the weekends she started singing songs from the 60s and 70s and getting paid for it.

“I used to play guitar then – that’s when I met Keith (McDonald).

“He used to sing at a bistro in Vic Park but he went to the eastern states and then came back and saw me on stage and that’s how we got together.”

She was 21 when she started singing with Keith and he was 19.

“We’ve been friends for a long time.

“My guitar work was nowhere near as good as my voice so I just let Keith do the guitar work.

“Then Nick (Melidonis) joined us after that.

“I sang at the Abilities Olympics in Perth and then governor Michael Jeffery later to be governor general of Australia told me my singing would take me places,’’ she chuckled.

Later on she represented Australia in Hong Kong at the Abilities Olympics with her work in clay and also sang Waltzing Matilda, which was viewed by 10 million people.

“In 1994 I was awarded the Lawrence Wilson grant for $15,000, which helped me set up my studio.”

She studied ceramics at the old Midland TAFE, which is now the Midland Performing Arts Centre, where NAK performed last month.

“Bill Gates was putting $2 to every $1 we raised so in the end we raised $7395 from the one concert.”

She said marriage and having a child stopped her singing career because she was supposed to be at home and looking after the kid – the way it was then.

But later in life NAK got back together and they played at hotels and bars on the weekends.

“I don’t regret anything I’ve done, I think I’ve had a very fulfilling life.

“If there’s a will there’s a way I’ll work it out.”

This includes cementing in her garden, cleaning bricks in the courtyard because she wanted a pebbled effect for it to fit in with the house, which is an older style.

“One thing I feel quite proud of is when I go to the post-polio clinic at Fiona Stanley and do hydrotherapy there the physios say that I’m in pretty good shape,’’ she said.

But she has to spend two months in rehab on a torn rotator cuff in her left arm, which is her good arm as the right arm was already injured and they can’t do anything about that one.

While she is in hospital she will probably start writing a book about her life as a polio victim.

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