‘South Georiga piano man’: Pastor and wedding singer play music for cancer patients in Thomasville

Both were seen jamming together in the lobby of the Lewis Hall Singletary Oncology Center in Thomasville.
Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 3:54 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 31, 2022 at 4:01 PM EDT
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THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WCTV) - It was a chance encounter that brought these two strangers together. Henry Yuma is a wedding singer, and James Banks is a pastor and retired biologist.

Both were seen jamming together in the lobby of the Lewis Hall Singletary Oncology Center in Thomasville.

Yuma just moved to the area from the Philippines. He accompanied his wife, who beat breast cancer a few years back, for a doctor’s appointment at the oncology center. That’s where Henry says he was captivated by the smooth jazz melody coming from the lobby.

“I sat here watching TV, I closed my eyes just listening to his music. He said ‘You know the tune,’ and I asked him ‘Do you know Stevie Wonder?’ That’s how it happened,” said Yuma.

Yuma says music has a way of bringing people together, and when played from the heart it can heal.

“I know that patients and everybody here gets relaxed when they hear him. All those in pain are going to forget about their problems and pain if they hear good music,” he said.

After battling cancer himself, Pastor James Banks says he wanted to do something to help others get through treatment as he did.

“On the 24 of March, I finished my last treatment of 40-rounds of radiation,” said Banks. “As I would walk through the lobby every day I would see the people and I would see their faces they seemed somewhat dejected and I wanted them to understand that there is hope.”

Banks asked the oncology staff if he could come back to the center and play music in the lobby. Once approved, he set up for the first time on March 28, just a day before Henry and his wife visited.

“When I rang the bell of hope, I just decided if I can’t do anything else I’ll bring this gift of music,” said Banks.

It was an encounter they never expected, but one they both say they’ll never forget.

“He’s a great guy. I just met him, but he’s already a lifelong friend of mine already,” said Banks.

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