The Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City is the building all new state laws are created. And for the men and women elected to office, it serves as home base for dozens of hours every week during the legislative session.
During normal business hours, the capitol building is alive with activity. You’ll hear bells ringing call the legislators in for a vote, and nearly constant conversation. But around five life starts slowing down. Even though most people have gone home, legislators may still be there for several more hours. And that’s when State Representative Hannah Kelly says she gets to do one of her favorite things.
“I’m a state representative for for the 141st District, Wright county and part of Webster,” says State Rep. Hannah Kelly.
Kelly says she never imagined being in politics. In fact, if you had asked her when she was younger, she would have told you her future would involve music.
“I would always say that I was going to work somewhere that I was either going to have a big enough house to have a nice piano in my house that I could play at any moment, or work somewhere that I could have a piano, and I remember saying that like it was yesterday,” says Kelly.
And thanks to her job in the capitol, that dream has come true.
“Lo, and behold, I happen to work in the most beautiful building in the state of Missouri, in my opinion, and we happen to have an amazing piano that the staff very faithfully keeps up for those like myself who like to take a round in the evenings,” says Kelly.
Kelly calls this her evening therapy, and says it helps her remember what’s important in life.
“As a person of faith, we all need to know and understand that there’s something deeper that connects us than the surface business and craziness of life, and that’s what I love about music,” says Kelly.
As she plays, crowds will come and go. Kelly says sometimes even Governor Parson will step out of his office for a few moments of reflection. And Kelly says that’s the real reward for her.
“I value what it does for you as you walk away more than the applause, or more than the appreciation by you by any kind of conversation that we have,” she says.
She has her favorites….
“I love ‘He Hideth My Soul,’ love that song, and ‘How Great Thou Art,’ and, of course, as all good politicians should, I love every patriotic song in the hymn book,” says Kelly.
And says as long as she’s in the capitol, she’ll continue playing.
“I do it, whether here or at home, to just, you know, remind myself that everything works out at the end of the day, and have that quiet, we all need that centered time to think and get ready for the next,” says Kelly.
Kelly says she’s just one part of a thriving, if somewhat underground music community at the capitol. She says there’s at least one other state representative who will spend time at the piano of an evening, and there’s a member of the governor’s staff who even writes his own music.