Vitality: 'Singing pharmacist' has big voice, big heart
Yes. You can come in and listen to Stacy Smith or, as everyone knows her, "the singing pharmacist," belt out some of the best Motown hits.
At this point, though, Smith would have to make a correction. She will tell you she's actually a pharmacist's assistant, but her fans don't care about such distinctions.
All they know is that voice.
"When she sings that gospel stuff it's real soulful," longtime Bartells customer Melissa Reginelli said. "It pushes your buttons."
Smith does sing gospel, but she's a rhythm and blues fan and loves Motown best of all. But Smith will sing whatever and generally whenever any customer asks her to.
"People will say, 'Give me that song,' and it's something I like to do because they want that and it makes me feel good to do that for them," Smith said.
"It just cracks me up but I just do it, and it seems to be kind a like a tradition and they won't let me stop."
Smith has been singing all her life. She brought her powerful alto voice to Bartell Drugs 11 years ago and hasn't stopped singing, creating an unexpected franchise that keeps customers coming back, like groupies.
"It seems the world is so small. I see customers I've helped for years," Smith said during a break in her shift. "Now that I'm in the pharmacy years later, I've met some of their children."
Smith started at Bartells on a whim, really.
Originally from Illinois, Smith spent 17 years in California before family members in Everett persuaded her to move north to raise her daughter. Smith's girl, Astacia, was about 5 weeks old when Smith, who lives in north Everett, decided to just pop into the Bartells on Broadway and ask about a job.
The manager told her to come back in a couple of days and bring her identification. Smith was hired and worked on the floor stocking shelves and as a cashier.
"I am always singing," Smith said. "When I was on the floor, you know, when you are putting stock out, I'm singing and people would come in and say, 'Oh, it's you.' "
It didn't occur to Smith that people actually thought she was singing to them. Until one day, she was singing a love ballad and a male customer heard her and thought she was singing to him.
"He said, 'Oh, wow,' and I realized I never thought about it like that," Smith said, laughing about the memory. "I thought I better be careful about what I'm singing."
Smith has sung in choirs all her life, from kindergarten through her senior year. She's sung in church groups and school groups and entered a lot of contests. She also did a year of professional vocal training.
She's sung as a guest performer for a number of bands. And she does karaoke every now and then.
"At karaoke, they will say, 'Can you do, "Midnight Train to Georgia," ' and I say, 'Now that I've gotten a little loose, maybe,"' Smith said.
She said she doesn't sing at church now, but lots of people have invited her to sing at theirs.
"I never promise because I never know," Smith said.
Smith said people wouldn't think of her as shy, but she said she has her moments and even admits that all this attention gets embarrassing at Bartells, and she has to ask the customer for a rain check.
She's flattered when people praise her singing ability.
One such person is customer Reginelli, who has told Smith she wants to be her manager and that Smith needs to go to Nashville and make records.
"What Stacy is, is just …" she trails off. "It's a voice."
Smith is humbled by such praise.
"You hear sometimes people say, 'I wonder what people will say about me when I'm gone,' and I already know," Smith said. "I feel so good that I'm hearing these things while I'm alive and I'm saying, 'God, you are good.'
"It makes me feel really wonderful these people care so much. I've cried with some of them and I've laughed with many of them, and I don't know, I'm just a people's person. I care about a lot of people."
Smith not only shares her music with customers, but also her philosophy as a people's person. She tells seniors that it's good they are moving slow.
"We move too fast today," she said. "Slow it down and let somebody learn something from you."
She seems to always have a smile for everyone and spins lots of homilies along with melodies.
Smith likes to take it with a grain of salt and hope for the best. And stay positive because you never know what door is going to be open.
In terms of her age, Smith never reveals it, saying, "I'm young enough to keep going and old enough to know better not to do whatever mamma said no to," and bursting into laughter.
"You leave something for yourself and it keeps people guessing," Smith said. "Sometimes I give the kind of answers that that's all they're able to do. A lot of people say they like my philosophy and I just say what's on my mind."
Customers often share with Smith that they think she should go somewhere and do something, "and then they look at me and say, 'No, we like you better at home.' "
Smith likes it here, as well, suddenly bursting out this soulful refrain with her powerful pipes:
"This is my song. I want everybody to know I'm home," Smith sang, "And I feel good."
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