The apple didn't fall far from the tree. Soprano Kiri Deonarine, daughter of renowned baritone Kim Josephson, wanted to be an opera singer from the time she could talk. After earning a degree in music education from Baylor University, she studied at the Technische Universität Dresden Institute of Advanced Studies, then pursued a master's in vocal performance at Indiana University. With the Houston Grand Opera, she appeared in The Elixer of Love, Cosi fan tutte, The Marriage of Figaro, and other productions. Kiri is now a first-year member of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, the professional artist-development program of Lyric Opera of Chicago. This fall, she will make her Lyric Opera debut as Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos. At the piano: Craig Terry, who recently completed his sixth season as Assistant Conductor at Lyric Opera.
In 2005, Lila Newman left her parents' New York City home and headed to the Windy City to attend the University of Chicago. These days, she writes and performs improv and sketch comedy in and around Chicago at iO, The Playground Theater, and Second City. As an actor, she has trod the boards with Redmoon Theater, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and the Around the Coyote Festival. And if that weren't enough, she sings, plays ukulele and banjo, and contributes to three blogs.
The day before his senior year as a playwriting student at the University of North Carolina, Joe Pug decided to pack up his belongings and point his car toward Chicago. There, he worked as a carpenter by day and spent nights playing the guitar he hadn't picked up since his teenage years. He took ideas originally slated for a play he'd been writing and created songs for his 2008 seven-song EP, Nation of Heat. Word of this singer-songwriter got around and soon he was crisscrossing the country playing clubs and festivals. Last year, he released Messenger (Lightning Rod Records), his first full-length album. On guitar: Greg Tuohey.
Andra Suchy spent her childhood on a farm near Mandan, North Dakota, the daughter of two talented singers. By the time she was in grade school, she was traveling around, doing concerts and festivals with her family. These days, she sings with several groups in the Twin Cities area – including the all-girl trio The Dollys. She also works as a back-up singer and as a jingle singer on commercials for White Castle, Target, and more. Andra's solo CD is called Patchwork Story.
Jack Zimmerman grew up on the South Side of Chicago. Over the years, he has worked as a parking lot attendant, greenhouse laborer, dockhand, trombonist, college instructor, piano tuner, newspaper columnist, magazine editor, and PR man (at Ravinia before joining the staff of Lyric Opera of Chicago). He's also a storyteller — always has been. His books include a 1994 collection called 10,000 Years in the Suburbs (Lake View Press) and his 2006 novel, Gods of the Andes (New Leaf Books). Now he has recorded six autobiographical stories on a brand-new CD: The Gift was released just last week.
Garrison Keillor was born in Anoka, graduated from the University of Minnesota ('66), and lives in St. Paul. He is the author of numerous books, including Life Among the Lutherans (Augsburg Books) and Pilgrims: A Wobegon Romance (Viking), and the editor of several anthologies of poetry, including Good Poems: American Places (Viking).
The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band
The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band is led by A Prairie Home Companion music director Richard Dworsky. Keyboard player, composer and improviser in any style, he also writes all the script themes and underscores. His latest CD is So Near and Dear to Me.
Chet Atkins called Pat Donohue (guitar) one of the greatest fingerpickers in the world today. And he writes songs too — recorded by Suzy Bogguss, Kenny Rogers, and others. Nobody's Fault (Bluesky Records) is the most recent of Pat's 10 albums.
Gary Raynor (bass) has performed with the Count Basie band, Sammy Davis Jr. — with whom he toured for several years — and the Minnesota Klezmer Band. He teaches jazz bass at the McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul.
Peter Johnson (percussion) has played klezmer music with Doc Severinsen and jazz with Dave Brubeck. He was a drummer for The Manhattan Transfer and for Gene Pitney. He has toured the world, but he always comes back to home base: Saint Paul.
Richard Kriehn is principal second violin for the Washington/Idaho Symphony. But it's not all classical all the time; he is equally at home playing bluegrass fiddle and mandolin. He was a member of the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble and the bluegrass group 1946.
One minute he's mild-mannered Tim Russell; the next he's George Bush or Julia Child or Barack Obama. We've yet to stump this man of many voices. In other roles, Tim played the part of Al, the stage manager, in the Robert Altman film A Prairie Home Companion and a detective in the Coen brothers' A Serious Man.
On APHC, Sue Scott plays everything from ditzy teenagers to Guy Noir stunners to leathery crones who've smoked one pack of Camel straights too many. The Tucson, Arizona, native is well known for her extensive commercial and voice-over work on radio and television, as well as movie and stage roles.
Sound effects man Fred Newman is an actor, writer, musician, and sound designer for film and TV. He is author of the book (and CD/CD-ROM) MouthSounds. Fred admits that, growing up, he was unceremoniously removed from several classrooms, "once by my bottom lip."
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).