LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – If you spend time in downtown Louisville, you’ve probably heard the Belle de Louisville calliope when he gets agitated.
The musical instrument dates back to the 1840s and was often featured on steamboats. Many years ago, Martha Gibbs fell in love with his sound.
âAnytime I was driving around here if the calliope was, if someone was playing it, I would say someday I want this job,â Gibbs said. “Someday I want to be able to play this calliope.”
That day has finally arrived. Gibbs brought his big smile and infectious laugh aboard the Belle about 17 years ago and hasn’t stopped typing the keys ever since.
âIt’s just fun, it’s fun,â Gibbs said. âI meet people from everywhere.
The work brought him joy, many new friends and a great sense of pride. But now it has brought him something else – viral fame. Gibbs is gaining ground on TikTok, one song at a time.
âI absolutely cannot believe it,â she said.
In just a few months, she helped Beauty gain nearly 30,000 followers on the platform. His page has nearly 530,000 likes and a video now has nearly a million views. Gibbs even takes requests.
âSome things are so weird, but I’m able to play them,â Gibbs said. “I learned all kinds of new things that I never knew I would ever learn.”
For Le Belle, it’s a way to connect with a new audience and ensure the historic riverboat has passengers lining up for generations to come.
âIt’s so important for us to reach out to a younger audience, the TikTok audience, because they’re going to keep this boat running for many years to come,â said Savannah Wafford, Community Outreach Manager. “They are going to be our passengersâ¦ they are the future for us.”
So far, it looks like it’s working.
âWe’ve had people from Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania,â Wafford said. “It’s exciting for us to see people come in and say I saw you on TikTok.”
And it looks like there’s a lot more TikTok in Gibbs’ future as well.
âI would never stop until people come to hear it,â Gibbs said. “As long as I can climb those steps, I’ll play.”
Music to the ears of many.
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