In addition to her 45-plus operatic roles, soprano Maria Jette has performed pop songs, chamber music, or oratorio with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, and with numerous symphony orchestras coast to coast. She is a frequent collaborator with VocalEssence and a regular guest at the Oregon Festival of American Music. For years, Twin Cities audiences have delighted in her Sopranorama performances with Molly Sue McDonald, Janis Hardy, and Dan Chouinard.
Singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer Nick Lowe has certainly left his stamp on popular music, starting with his stint with the pub-rock band Brinsley Schwarz — a strong influence on 1970s punk music — and during his years with Rockpile. His songs include "Cruel to Be Kind" and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," which, in addition to being covered by dozens of other artists and appearing on the soundtrack to The Bodyguard, is still an anti-war anthem after three decades. Labour of Lust, The Impossible Bird and The Convincer are among his acclaimed albums. His 2007 recording, At My Age (Yep Roc Records), is described by the Village Voice as having "a benevolent, whimsical, grandfatherly air that's both sincere and devilishly devious."
The Russian Chamber Chorus of New York
Founded in 1984 by Artistic Director and Conductor Nikolai Kachanov, the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York — known for its versatility and heartfelt singing — has become an important musical presence in the greater New York City region. Their repertoire spans many centuries and styles, from ancient liturgical chants, through Russian Baroque, classical and folk music, and world premieres by leading contemporary composers. Among their CDs is a critically acclaimed recording of Tchaikovsky's Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and Yuri Yukechev's My Heart Is Ready: From the Psalms of David, both on the RMASA label.
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, and Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny (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.
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).