Special Guests
Saturday, April 8, 2006

Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley grew up in Glen Dale, West Virginia. When he was about 8, his grandfather gave him a guitar and taught him how to play. Brad says, "His advice to me was, 'Anything that's going wrong in your life, you can pick this guitar up and it'll go away.'" Paisley soon began singing in church and at civic meetings for the Lion's Club and the Elks. At 12, he wrote his first song, "Born on Christmas Day." His junior high school principal heard it and asked him to perform it at the next Rotary Club meeting. The program director for WWVA in Wheeling was in the audience and asked Brad to appear on Jamboree USA. Brad was a hit and became a regular on the program for eight years, working as an opening act for people like Roy Clark and Little Jimmy Dickens. While enrolled at Belmont College in Nashville, Brad served a college internship at ASCAP. His co-workers there were so impressed with Brad's songs that they set up an appointment with talent scouts at EMI Music Publishing. A week after graduation, Paisley signed a songwriting deal with the company. And after his work on demo recordings caught the attention of Arista Records' A&R Department, he landed his first recording deal. In 2000, Brad won the Country Music Association's Horizon Award and the Academy of Country Music's prize for best new male vocalist. The following year, he received his first Grammy Award nomination. In 2001, he was inducted into Grand Ole Opry. Brad's most recent CD is called Time Well Wasted (Arista Nashville).

VocalEssence with Philip Brunelle

Founded by Philip Brunelle in 1969 under the name Plymouth Music Series, VocalEssence is recognized internationally for innovative exploration of music for voices and instruments. Each year the organization, under Brunelle's direction, presents a series of concerts featuring the 120-voice VocalEssence Chorus and the 32-voice Ensemble Singers along with soloists and instrumentalists. VocalEssence has received the ASCAP/ Chorus America Award for adventurous programming of contemporary music an unprecedented five times, and was awarded the Margaret Hillis Achievement Award for Choral Excellence. Their latest recordings are Over the River & Through the Woods, a live concert celebration of Thanksgiving, and Hymn to Potatoes, a compilation of choral skits and bits from their appearances on A Prairie Home Companion. In December of 2005, Philip Brunelle was recognized for his outstanding service to British music and culture by being named an Honorary Member of Order of the British Empire.

Prudence Johnson

Prudence Johnson's career in music has taken her from stage (honky-tonks to Carnegie Hall) to silver screen (Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It). As one music critic put it, "[There's] not a genre she hasn't interpreted with her ducky, sensual alto voice and terminally good taste." Her 10 album releases include Moon Country, featuring the music of Hoagy Carmichael, and 'S Gershwin with pianist Dan Chouinard. Collaborating with four Minnesota composers, she created A Girl Named Vincent, the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay set to music and scheduled for CD release. Prudence also appears on (and produced) a new recording of Gales of November, the concert version of the play Ten November, chronicling the sinking of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald. The CD is on the Sleeper label.

John Niemann

Fiddler and mandolinist John Niemann started out playing electric bass in a high school rock 'n' roll band. Later he took up guitar, fiddle, mandolin and mandocello. He was a member of Peter Ostroushko's quartet The Mando Boys, and he spent seven years with the Minnesota-based bluegrass group Stoney Lonesome.

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).

Available now»

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