Based in the Twin Cities, Cantus is recognized as one of America's finest professional male vocal ensembles. The artist-led group is known for adventurous programming spanning many periods and genres — chant to spirituals, art song to folk song, Bach to the Beatles. The Washington Post described their sound as having both "exalting finesse" and "expressive power." Among their recordings are That Eternal Day and Christmas with Cantus.
When Brad Paisley was about eight, his grandfather gave him a guitar and a piece of advice: "Anything that's going wrong in your life, you can pick this guitar up and it'll go away." Seems grandpa was right. At 12, Paisley wrote his first song. He was invited to perform it at a Rotary Club meeting, and that's when a radio program director asked Brad to appear on WWVA's Jamboree USA. Brad was a hit, and he hasn't stopped wowing music moguls and fans alike. He is a three-time Grammy winner, inductee into the Grand Ole Opry, and the Country Music Association's 2010 Entertainer of the Year. His latest recording, This Is Country Music, was released last year on the Sony Nashville label.
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 performs with several groups in the Twin Cities area. She also works as a backup singer and as a jingle singer on commercials for White Castle, Target, and more. Andra's solo CD is called Patchwork Story.
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 Pilgrims: A Wobegon Romance (Viking) and A Christmas Blizzard (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 and Sammy Davis Jr., with whom he toured for several years. He was first call for dozens of touring Broadway shows, including the first presentation of The Lion King. Gary teaches 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.
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).