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Meet the 94-year-old sharing his love of singing with his family

Philip Senatra grew up singing in choirs and in the Army. During the pandemic, he started recording his own covers of songs for his family.

SILVIS, Ill — This summer, Silvis has been hosting "Music in the Gazebo" every other Thursday night to bring the community together and for new artists to showcase their music.

But this week's performer isn't new to music at all.

Philip Senatra is 94 years old. And yes, he says he's related to Frank Sinatra.

"Singing, I was always singing," Senatra said. "I was a young kid and I was singing all the time." 

When he was in sixth grade, he sang on the Cousin Peggy Program radio show. In junior high and high school, he sang in the Glee Club, before joining the Army where he and his friends formed a quartet. He also sang in his church choir.

When he got married and had kids, Senatra took a break from singing. Once his six kids were grown, he rejoined the church choir. 

But when his wife died, he took another break.

"I was singing Frank Sinatra songs to her the night before she passed," Senatra said. "I always thought in my mind, I hope she heard me. And I'm sure she did."

A karaoke performance of Perry Como's "And I Love You So" at an ice cream parlor while visiting his son in Florida, inspired the rest.

"I just started doing songs just by myself for my pleasure," Senatra said. "And then I would play it to somebody else and he said, 'That's great.' He said he wanted more."

Senatra started recording covers of his favorite songs on his computer and phone. Today, he has 270 songs on his phone, and he said that each one will take him a couple of hours to perfect and record.

His grandson, News 8's Sports Kory Kuffler burns the songs onto CDs for Senatra to hand out to his friends and family.

"Christmastime he hands them out to everybody," his oldest daughter Susan Denys said. "I like to see him happy and doing that. He's very good at it."

Thursday night, Senatra chose 18 of his songs to play for a crowd at Silvis' Railroad Park and Gazebo. He wasn't able to do it karaoke style; instead playing the recordings off his phone, but at times you could spot him singing along.

It's a musical memory he wants to pass on to his 12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

"I wanted to pass on the songs to my younger generation," he said. "So I, I hope they enjoy them when I'm gone."

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