Abby the Spoon Lady is an enigma.
These days, Abby Roach is at the top of her game street performing in front of crowds, talking on her radio show in Asheville, N. C., and becoming an internet sensation with videos.
She defies expectation — shyly admitting some have told her she looks like she crawled out from a holler in Appalachia. Truth is, she is a 36-year-old artisan with an achy back caused from carrying backpacks too long but pure poetry in motion when it comes to the art.
The sound of the spoons is a percussion symphony punctuated by an occasional bell. Roach sits while she plays. Her motions are part ballet, artistic and gymnastic.
Playing spoons is her gift. It has allowed her to become an YouTube sensation along with her partner in music, Chris Rodrigues. And, it has led her to her own radio show, the Busker Broadcast.
“From the kind of performance that Abby does — the busker experience in Asheville — one of the defining characteristics of the visitor experience is that it enlivens the streetscape to hear amazing musicians from one block to the next,” said Stephanie Brown, president and CEO of Asheville Visitors & Convention Bureau. “It is an unique and important experience and Abby and Chris are the best crowd-pleasers. People have seen her through my Facebook feed and come to Asheville wanting to know ‘Where can I find Abby, the Spoon Lady?’ She has been a great tourism partner.”
The video below shows Abby’s incredible talent, and we hope you enjoy the artistic expression as much as we did.
Though Chris is playing guitar and singing — his delivery dyed in the blues and dipped in gospel — it’s impossible to take your eyes off Abby. Her lean arms float across her torso as she smacks the spoons from above, below, against her thigh in a hypnotic fervor. But there is this, too: Abby has no teeth. As such, there’s an engrossing animation playing out across her face: She looks skyward as her mouth becomes a small button; her face balls up slightly as she locks in again on Chris. With her hair the indiscriminate color of an old pot, guessing her age is futile. (She is 36.) At the halfway point, a collarless dog breezes by. After four minutes, the performance draws to a close, which Abby punctuates by striking an old service bell with her foot.
“I would have thought it would have been crazy if someone would have told me that I would grow up to be a Spoon Lady. Who thinks they are going to be a professional Spoon Lady? I’m humored by it. I make a lot of puns and jokes about it now. I call my office the Spooniverse and my show, Spooniversal Studios.”
Look at her videos and her eyes are joyful.
“I have come to be comfortable with who I am and where I am at,” she said. “It has been a hard life. A lot of it in hindsight was self-inflicted. Sometimes we put ourselves through a lot of hardship that is not necessary but makes you who you are.”