Special Guests
Saturday, November 9, 1996

For nearly two decades, The Forbes Family has been playing together as a full-fledged band: Homer Forbes (vocals and banjo), Lisa Forbes Roberts (lead vocals), Lori Forbes Slate (vocals and bass), and Jay Forbes (vocals, guitar, and mandolin). They had heard music at home for years: their father and grandfather both played guitar and sang. And the kids began to sing in public when they were pre-schoolers. Homer, the eldest of the four siblings, started singing during church services at the age of four. So by the time the band started in 1977, the teenaged Forbes kids were already seasoned performers. After five years of performing around their home-near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania-they decided to move to North Carolina to make a name for themselves in bluegrass gospel music. The plan worked: by the mid-'80s, the group had been signed by Rebel Records. The group's current CD is In the Shadow of Your Wings (Rebel Records). They're joined tonight by ace fiddler John Glick.

The Steele Family started singing around their hometown of Gary, Indiana. A group called The Steele Children, the precursor to the current group, began when Jearlyn Steele Battle was not yet in kindergarten. The children sang in church and when Jearlyn was only four, she and three siblings opened for gospel legend Mahalia Jackson. They sang in churches, concert halls, and on radio and television across the state of Indiana. As they reached college age, Jearlyn enrolled in the University of Minnesota, intending to get a special-education degree. One by one, the rest of her brothers and sisters left the Hoosier State for Minnesota. And, just for fun, they started singing together again. The public wanted more, and so the family turned to singing full-time, which they've been doing for more than a decade. In 1983, the Steeles sang in Gospel at Colonus at the Guthrie Theater, a show which then toured, ending up on Broadway in 1988. Just recently, the family revisited that show, when they performed a reunion concert of Gospel at Colonus to a sold-out crowd at New York's Carnegie Hall. Various members of The Steeles can be heard on national commercials, movie soundtracks (Corina, Corina, and Hoopdreams), recordings (with the artist formerly known as Prince and others). And various siblings can be seen on local stages: Jevetta Steele's Black Belts at Mixed Blood Theater, Fred Steele and Jearlyn Steele Battle in Mahalia at the Old Log Theater, and J.D. Steele's Inner City Opera, performed at the Great American History Theatre. On December 20 and 21, The Steeles will perform a Christmas show with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra at The State Theater in Minneapolis. Their latest CD is Heaven Help Us All (Elektra Records). They also have a Christmas CD, called This Must Be Christmas (Lakefront Records). Performing tonight are: J.D. Steele and his children, Jason and Courtney; Jearlyn Steele Battle and her children, Venise and Michael Battle; Fred Steele and his children, Fred, Jr. and Telisha; and Jevetta Steele and her sons Courtland and Kenyari Jackson.


Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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