An 87-year-old bass player with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has set an incredible record this month -- after 71 years of performing, Jane Little now holds the world record for the longest tenure with an orchestra. Since her debut at age 16 on February 4, 1945, the petite bassist, who stands under 5 feet (1.5 m) tall, has played one of the largest instruments in the orchestra. On her 71st anniversary earlier this month, Little was greeted with a five-minute-long standing ovation, after which she reflected, "Seventy-one years ago. It’s hard to remember when I wasn’t here.”
Little grew up in Atlanta during the Great Depression and, while her family was too poor to afford them, she loved instruments and music. The orchestra leader at her high school recognized her aptitude for music and told her that they needed a bassist. After a month of lessons, Little says that she was "hooked," adding that "it was awfully difficult to push those heavy strings down, and to carry the instrument around, but I just loved it." During her sophomore year, she joined the Atlanta Youth Symphony and stayed on when it became a professional symphony, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, three years later.