- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) - It’s a mystery that has plagued LaJuana Murphy-Brann for four and a half years since the May 2011 tornado: What’s the story behind this upright piano?

“I was so in tune to that piano, I couldn’t help but wonder,” said Murphy-Brann, who has launched a social media campaign to try to find the piano’s owners and history. “It’s haunted me.”

Murphy-Brann, a touring gospel musician who is currently based in Branson, was traveling Interstate 44 from Tulsa to Springfield just a few days after the tornado when she decided to stop in Joplin to tour the devastated city. As a student enrolled at the time in a journalism course at Oral Roberts University, she began snapping photos to test her newfound reporting skills, The Joplin Globe (https://bit.ly/1OnCrwZ) reports.

She wandered along the area where St. Mary’s Catholic Church once stood, taking photos of the iconic cross that was left standing after the tornado passed. She thinks she ultimately ended up farther west on 26th Street, near the intersection with South Tyler Avenue, when something sitting on the side of the road caught her eye.

It was an old upright piano, surrounded by rubble and partially covered with a blue tarp.

“There was no indication as to how it got there; no structural home remnants encased it,” she said. “It was as though it had been lifted from somewhere and gently dropped at that location. I think it was meant for me to find.”

Murphy-Brann, a self-taught pianist, was instantly drawn to the instrument, and she said she felt as though it were calling to her. She snapped a photo of it before continuing on her way, leaving the piano curbside.

“From that point, I was forever married to this piece of musical machinery,” she said.

In the years since the tornado, the image of the tarp-covered piano has gone with Murphy-Brann as she has traveled around the country. Thanks to photo-editing software, the piano has been hauled behind tour buses and classic automobiles, and it will soon be pulled behind Santa’s sleigh in honor of Christmas. Murphy-Brann has posted many of the digitally altered photographs on her Facebook page.

She also remains driven by her attempts to uncover the mystery of the piano, wondering to whom it belonged and whether the owners ever returned to retrieve it.

“I also, with fear in my heart, have wondered if the upright survived while its owners did not,” she said. “So I come to this time still searching for answers. I would love to connect with the family that has, in a strange sort of way, become a part of my life.”


Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, https://www.joplinglobe.com

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide