Special Guests
Saturday, June 30, 2007

Renée Fleming

She was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania and grew up in Rochester, New York; her parents were voice teachers. While studying at the State University of New York she sang with a jazz trio and was discovered by jazz legend Illinois Jacquet, who invited her to tour with his band. Renée went to graduate school instead, where she focused on classical music at the Eastman School of Music and The Juilliard School. Renée Fleming's professional break came in 1988 when she was invited to sing the role of the Contessa in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro with the Houston Grand Opera, and in 1989 she made her New York City debut in La Bohème. She sang in London's Covent Garden and returned to New York in 1991 to make her Metropolitan Opera debut. Since then, the two-time Grammy award winner, who is recognized as a risk-taker in her field, has created many roles for the operatic stage and has premiered numerous songs written for her. She has performed throughout the world's most distinguished venues with today's foremost orchestras and conductors, and recorded numerous award winning discs. An exclusive recording artist with Decca since 1995, her recent recordings include Renée Fleming: Handel, the Grammy Award winning Bel Canto, and she is featured on the Warner Bros. Records Oscar-winning soundtrack to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. On May 10, Decca releases her newest CD, Haunted Heart; a personal journey through popular songs she loves, with jazz pianist Fred Hersch and guitarist Bill Frisell. In November 2004, Ms. Fleming's first book, The Inner Voice, was published in the United States by Viking Penguin; an intimate account of her career and the creative process, Ms. Fleming shares personal experiences learned throughout the course of her career.

Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks

Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks are renowned on the New York scene for their commitment to preserving and authentically presenting 1920s jazz. Each piece they perform is inspired by, and arranged from, original recordings from greats of the era. The Nighthawks are Vince Giordano, Andy Stein, Brad Shigeta, Mark Lopeman, Dan Levinson, Dave Brown, Randy Sandke, Dan Block, Peter Yarin, Mark McCarron and John Gill. They were recently featured in the movie The Aviator and can be heard every Monday and Tuesday at Charley O's Times Squre Grill on Broadway and 49th.


She is a 1999 recipient of the National Medal of the Arts & Humanities from President & Mrs. Clinton, the National Visionary Award from the Kennedy Center, the first Duke Ellington Fellowship Award from Yale University, the Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Library of Congress, the International Folk Alliance, the World Folk Music Association, and Presidente d'Honeurs from the Cognac (France) Blues Festival as well as Grammy and W.C. Handy Award nominations in addition to numerous Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from various universities. Odetta was born in Birmingham in 1930. From there, her family moved to Los Angeles, where she began studying classical voice. In 1944 she began a four year association performing at the famed Turnabout Theater in Hollywood, and in 1949 she joined the road touring company of Finians' Rainbow. While the show performed in San Francisco she became exposed to folk music. In 1950, she made her first professional appearance as a folk singer at San Francisco's "Tin Angel." Those present said she seemed destined to become a cultural force. She has since released dozens of recordings in the decades since. As a leading voice of social activism around the world, she participated in the Civil Rights marches in Selma, at the 1963 and 1983 Marches on Washington, and on President Kennedy's Civil Rights TV Special "Dinner With The President." In 1995, she was invited to Beijing, China as an Elder to the International Women's Conference. To this day, she remains a revered voice of social activism around the world.

Guy's All-Star Shoe Band

The Shoes are led by PHC music director RICHARD DWORSKY, a regular since 1986. He has been a studio musician for 30 years and has worked with the Children's Theater Company in Minneapolis, singer Al Jarreau, Kristin Chenoweth, the Hopeful Gospel Quartet, and has recorded on the Windham Hill label. His latest CD is So Near and Dear to Me (Prairie Home Productions, LLP). PAT DONOHUE (guitar) is a St. Paul guy, a National Finger Picking Guitar Champion and songwriter whose latest CD is Radio Blues (Prairie Home Productions, LLP). GARY RAYNOR (bass) has performed with Sammy Davis Jr., the Count Basie band, and the Minnesota Klezmer Band and teaches jazz bass at the McNally Smith College of Music. ARNIE KINSELLA (percussion), a PHC regular for 14 seasons, has performed with Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, The Manhattan Rhythm Kings, and Leon Redbone.

Andy Stein

Violinist and saxophonist Andy Stein was a member of The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band on A Prairie Home Companion from 1989 to 2001. Stein collaborated with Garrison Keillor to create the opera Mr. and Mrs. Olson. He has appeared on Saturday Night Live and Late Night with David Letterman, and has performed with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Eric Clapton, Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, and many others.

André Watts

He was born in Nuremburg, Germany, in 1946; the son of a career soldier, Sergeant Herman Watts, and a Hungarian mother, Maria Alexandra Gusmits. He began studying the violin at age four and at six decided that he preferred the piano; Maria, a pianist herself, gave him his first lessons. They lived in Europe until he was eight, when his father was reassigned to the United States and they moved to Philadelphia. There he went to Lincoln Preparatory School and the Philadelphia Academy of Music. He entered his first competition at age nine, for a spot in one of the Philadelphia Orchestra's Children's Concerts. Watts won the competition and launched his career. In 1963 was introduced to a national television audience by Leonard Bernstein. Three weeks later he was invited to substitute for Glenn Gould in a scheduled New York Philharmonic concert; he played the Liszt E-flat Concerto so well the whole orchestra stood with the audience in applause. He was soon filling a hundred concerts dates annually; he has gone from protégé to sensation to one of the world's most in demand masters, both as a concert soloist and as a recitalist.

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»

American Public Media © |   Terms and Conditions   |   Privacy Policy