As it is well known a hobby or a trade can easily be studied and with time a person can become quite good at their choice of projects. However, a talent is something that many believe to be "God given."
Such may be the case with Baxter resident Lonnie Milwee, who uses his singing talent to perform on a volunteer basis at various functions throughout the county.
On any given day of the year, Milwee's distinctive voice may be heard singing tunes at local religious and seasonal socials, and he said he enjoys making people happy with his songs.
"I enjoy singing at these area parties and such, and I especially enjoy bringing happiness to the older folks with my music," Milwee said. "Occasionally, I might get a paying job out of town, but usually all my performing is done voluntarily."
Milwee said although he has been in bands over the years where he would perform four or five nights a week, he just never had the "guts" to give up his day job and take on his talent as a full-time career.
"Singing has been such a big part of my life since I was a boy," said Milwee. "I knew the words to about every song on the radio when I was growing up. But I never thought about taking it up as a career."
A native of Harlan, Milwee said he has lived most of his life in Michigan where he worked first with the 3-M company and then began a career with Northwest Airlines where he retired after 19 years of ground service.
Milwee said he came to Harlan about five years ago for a local singing performance and that's when he met his wife, Georgiana.
"After a few months of talking on the phone and my flying back and forth and missing her when I was gone I decided that I would just make my home here," Milwee said. "I sold my home in Michigan and decided to have a life while I still had a little life left."
Milwee, who has several CDs available in formats of Christmas, gospel and country, said he had recorded all of them at his home.
"In the past I have paid big money to record them professionally, and it just did not turn out the way I expected - I just wasn't satisfied with the results," said Milwee. "So this time I decided to just record them myself and that way the outcome would be what I wanted instead of what someone else wanted it to be."
Milwee performed last month for the seniors of the county at the annual Harlan Senior Citizens Christmas party and he said it was a "joy" to see how the music lit up the faces of the elderly people.
"I try to do things that take these older people back to the happier times of their lives," Milwee said. "That means a lot to them and to me."
A member of the Liggett Baptist Church, Milwee, who also plays the guitar, said he enjoys performing gospel music and can be heard almost every Sunday singing at the church. He also performs many times throughout the year for the residents of The Laurels and Britthaven care facilities.
When he is not busy with his volunteer singing, Milwee said he enjoys his family life and relishes spending time with his children and grandchildren.
Although he said his two sons, a daughter and two grandchildren reside in Michigan and it is difficult to see them on a regular basis, he also enjoys spending time with his two stepchildren and four step grandchildren.
His wife, Georgiana Saylor-Milwee, said that she was very proud of her husband's singing abilities and that she encourages him in any way she can.