Soprano Ellie Dehn has appeared in many of the world's leading opera houses, from the Metropolitan Opera to Teatro alla Scala and Bayerische Staatsoper. But her love of music started during her childhood in Anoka, Minnesota. She sang in her high school choir and played flute in the band before continuing her studies at Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. These days, she makes her home in New York City. At the piano: Laurent Philippe.
The DiGiallonardo Sisters
The DiGiallonardo Sisters — Daniela, Nadia, and Christine — started singing together when they were kids Brooklyn. They still call Brooklyn home, and they still love stacking up those three-part harmonies. Now, Daniela teaches social studies at Brooklyn's Mark Twain Intermediate School for the Gifted & Talented; Nadia is a pianist, composer, arranger, and singer; and Christine is a singer and actor. The trio's debut album, Shout Sister Shout, was recorded with Rob Fisher live at the Virginia Arts Festival and released earlier this year.
For Paul Shaffer, the piano lessons he started as a six-year-old in Thunder Bay, Ontario, certainly paid off. He went on to some terrific gigs — among them, five years in the Saturday Night Live house band and musical director for David Letterman since 1982. The life and career of this musician, composer, producer, and author are chronicled in his 2009 memoir, We'll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin' Showbiz Saga. Paul is the recipient of the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honor.
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 O, What A Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound (Grove Press), and the editor of several anthologies of poetry, including Good Poems: American Places (Viking).
The Saturday Night Band
Keyboardist, composer, and arranger Richard Dworsky is music director for A Prairie Home Companion. He has also accompanied Garrison Keillor on U.S. and European concert tours and has collaborated with numerous other performers, including Al Jarreau and singer/actress Kristin Chenoweth. Among his many CDs is So Near and Dear to Me (Prairie Home Productions).
Bassist Jeff Carney is always in demand — in Broadway orchestras, on jingles and film soundtracks, and as accompanist for jazz giants and popular music stars. A professor of bass and at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, he is principal bassist with the New York Pops Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and has played with the New York Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony.
When Richard Kriehn turned 10, his mom bought him a mandolin; at 19, he'd won the Buck White International Mandolin Contest. He went on to play with the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble and bluegrass group 1946. On the classical side, he has performed with numerous orchestras and was principal second violin for the Washington/Idaho Symphony.
Guitarist Dean Magraw studied at the University of Minnesota and the Berklee School of Music in Boston. His first recording, 1994's Broken Silence, won the NAIRD award for Best Acoustic Instrumental Album of the Year. Dean has since turned out a bunch of dazzling albums, including his latest, Reservoir (Acoustic Music Records), a collaboration with Sándor Szabó.
Mentions of drummer Ray Marchica are invariably peppered with words like "diverse," "versatile." and "respected." He has performed or recorded with everyone from Liza Minnelli to Little Richard; on Broadway, he's been the drummer for shows like Damn Yankees, A Chorus Line, and currently, Mamma Mia. His albums are In the Ring and A Different View, both on the Sons of Sound label.
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."
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).