Saturday, December 23, 2006
OdettaOne of the most celebrated figures in music, Odetta was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and began classical voice training after her family moved to Los Angeles. She found her way into the folk music scene in the early 1950s, singing at the Hungry i and the Tin Angel in San Francisco and the Blue Angel in New York. In the decades since, she has released dozens of recordings. As a leading voice of social activism around the world, she participated in the Civil Rights marches in Selma, sang at the 1963 and '83 marches on Washington, and played for President Kennedy and his cabinet on the nationally televised Civil Rights program Dinner with the President. In 1995, she was invited to Beijing, China, as an Elder to the International Women's Conference. She has been heaped with honors including the National Medal of the Arts and Humanities, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Library of Congress and the National Visionary Award from the Kennedy Center. Odetta's latest recording is Gonna Let It Shine: A Concert for the Holidays (M.C. Records).
Walter BobbieAt the University of Scranton, Walter Bobbie thought he'd be an accounting major. Thank goodness he came to his senses. These days, he's an award-winning director known for his work on Chicago (for which he won the Tony, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award), Sweet Charity, Footloose, High Fidelity and other productions. After graduate school at Catholic University, Bobbie hit New York, where he did four or five shows before landing a role in the original cast of Grease in 1972. He acted in other plays, including Guys and Dolls, Assassins, Anything Goes and Driving Miss Daisy, and in movies and television shows like The First Wives Club, "Hill St. Blues" and "Law & Order." He was artistic director of New York City Center's Encores!, where he directed Fiorello!, Chicago, Tenderloin and Golden Boy. He has also directed for the New York Shakespeare Festival, Manhattan Theatre Club, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Sundance, the O'Neill Center and Goodspeed Opera House. His stage adaptation of Irving Berlin's White Christmas is in its third season, with productions in Minneapolis, Detroit and the United Kingdom.
Rob FisherFor four seasons conductor and pianist Rob Fisher headed up the Coffee Club Orchestra on Garrison Keillor's American Radio Company, and he remains a frequent Prairie Home Companion guest. He served as music director and conductor of the Encores! series at New York City Center from its inception in 1994 through 2005, and he was the original conductor and music director for Chicago and its Grammy Award-winning cast album, and supervisor of Chicago companies around the world. In 2001, he conducted the PBS broadcast of Sweeney Todd, with Patti LuPone, George Hearn and the San Francisco Symphony. As guest artist, he has led the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Atlanta, Virginia, Colorado, Baltimore and National symphonies, among others. Fisher regularly creates evenings for the Lyrics and Lyricists series at the 92nd Street Y, and he is currently providing musical direction and vocal arrangements for the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of The Apple Tree.
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).