Erma Riddick sings praises on a ukulele

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

When we all get to heaven, there’ll be music like we’ve never heard before. Organs, violins, cellos, kettledrums, choirs, and a ukulele. Yes, a ukulele, and the person who’ll be playing that little instrument and singing her praises will be Mrs. Erma Nelms Riddick.

But not yet.

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Today she’s still quite with us in this world, and has something else to do at the moment: celebrate her 93rd birthday.

Eager to join in this party is the congregation of Western Branch Baptist Church, where she has been attending since she was an infant. At birth on Sept. 3, 1910, she weighed only 2-1/2 pounds. Even today, Riddick is petite – 4’11.

During a revival at age 9, she said, &uot;the Lord spoke to my heart.&uot; Love of God and music have been closely intertwined. Naturally, she sang in the choir.

About the ukulele: When Riddick was 20, Lorraine Williams – who was dating her brother – gave her the instrument.

Even today she continues to pluck out familiar and favorite hymns such as &uot;He Lives&uot; and &uot;His Name is Wonderful.&uot;

Alert and spry even, Riddick reflected confidently on her long years. Asked how she wants to be remembered, she said simply, &uot;I don’t know. Just what I am. I try to be good to folks and hope I’ll be remembered.&uot;