Saturday, October 9, 2004
Jearlyn SteeleShe grew up in Indiana, singing with her siblings at churches and concert halls across the state, doing television and radio shows as the Steele Children. She moved to Minneapolis to attend the University of Minnesota and one by one the others followed. They regrouped as a gospel group called The Steeles and gained a solid reputation, enough that they were able to sing full time. In 1983, they sang in Gospel at Colonus at the Guthrie Theater; it became a touring show and ended up on Broadway in 1988. It led to a recording career in which she has done backup vocals on projects, for folks like George Clinton and Prince. She landed her own weekly radio show, Steele Talkin' without knowing she had even been in an interview. She thought she and the station manager at WCCO in Minneapolis were just having a casual conversation.
Janet SorensonShe runs a sugar beet operation with her husband near Fisher, Minnesota, a town of 413 persons just southeast of Moorhead. The harvest began last Friday and they will be hauling beets day and night through October. In all the work of running a farm she has still found time to sing, play the church organ, teach piano lessons, and win the national yodeling championship. The first woman ever to achieve that honor, at the Jimmie Rodgers National Yodeling Championship in Avoca, Iowa; twenty contestants, and 15,000 people there to see them. She has also been a featured entertainer seven times at the annual Norsk Hostefest in Minot, North Dakota, the "largest Scandinavian gathering in the world." The Oak Ridge Boys invited her and her husband to come to Nashville for a show, which they did, and they had a good time.
Chuck SuchyCritics like to call him an undiscovered treasure of the northern Great Plains, and we might expect a title like that to be hung on a singer who works towns named Keister and Coon Valley. But the picture changes when we add Chicago to that, and the Smithsonian Institute and the Kennedy Center; the sort of venues that put an end to anonymity. So he's been discovered. He's a still-working farmer from the blue hills along the Missouri River south of Mandan. He's sung and played guitar and accordion most of his life, and in 1982 realized that it was a life worth writing songs about. He has five CDs out, the latest called Evening in Paris. An enticing title from a songwriter better known for dance halls, dimestore perfume and dancin' in the kitchen.