This past summer I had the wonderful opportunity to play at the Marshall County Fairgrounds grandstand in Warren, Minnesota. They invited me to play the early Sunday morning church service for their grand opening weekend. I had no idea what to expect. A church service at a fairground? This would be a first for me.
Tim and I left the day before on Saturday afternoon to make the drive up near Canada. We love doing "gigs" like this as we get out of our routine, drive somewhere unknown where we've never been before, and experience quite a few surprises that we talk about all the way home. We stayed at a local hotel the night before (so that we would be on time for the service the next day). I wondered what to wear for something like this, and ended up selecting a Calvin Klein tangerine "church dress" ($39.99 from TJ Maxx) with matching pumps. When we arrived at the fairground, we opened the car door and I stepped out onto dirt. I immediately wished I had brought my tennis shoes, at least for the load-in, and I eventually changed into flats (that I had in the back seat of our car) and put my pretty pumps up by the piano on the stage.
A forklift was putting a piano up onto the metal stage. It was exciting. About 100 people were already in the grandstand, sitting off to the side, just watching all the fun. I was particularly thrilled that there was a tarp cover over the piano area and I'd play in the shade that morning. It was super hot (and I am so fair-skinned . . . I didn't want to melt in front of a crowd or get sunburned).
Before the worship service began, I was to play thirty minutes of traditional hymns. I love doing this, basically just playing anything that comes to mind, off-the-cuff. I waited quietly off to the side of the stage until it was time to begin. People started filing in, filling up the bleachers. Soon it was packed, about 1500 people . . . all from Minnesota and North Dakota and I couldn't believe it. It was also very surreal because it was so quiet (everyone was silent) for such a big outdoor space.
When I walked up to play, people started to clap. They clapped and clapped. I looked to the crowd and thanked everyone. I was overwhelemed. It was so touching for me. All these people were there to listen to me play hymns. Oh my goodness. God is so great.
After my half hour of prelude music, I got up and the crowd clapped more. The worship band then played, and it was so enjoyable as I sat on the stage right next to the live music (and in front of a demolition derby track . . . seriously). The sermon was presented, and I got up and played in and out of the service for special moments. It was a glorious morning and I couldn't help but to wish there were more opportunities like this every Sunday morning for me to share my gift. (How many grandstands and fairgrounds are there in my neck of the woods?)
After the service, I went under the grandstand to sign CDs and music books. There was quite the line, and about 20 people in there was a woman who asked me to sign her CD. Fans always say the nicest things to me. And I'll never forget what she said to me that day.
"I've watched you your entire career, for 30 years. And you've changed . . . your energy is different."
Yes ma'am. I have.
There was a long line of people waiting, but in the brief few minutes that we talked she told me she was an "energy specialist," that her full-time career and corporate job was analyzing the basic energy of people.
I confirmed that her new opinion of me was true.
Many of you know that I turned 60 this year. I don't mind the age, really. There's no going back. But I would like to tell you about beautiful change, how it happens over the years and comes into your life. I can now speak from experience. And it's actually quite like a good recipe. There are a few unique and special ingredients to make it all work.
Here is a list of (some of) the secret ingredients for change. Keep in mind, again, this is change for the good. Are you ready?
Here we go.
Grief, heartache, sickness, disappointment, sadness, classic jealously of friends or neighbors, hardships, turmoil, trials and tribulations, isolation, temptations, envy, loneliness, emotional pain, physical pain, suffering, separation, sorrow, and even death of a loved one.
Sounds pretty terrible, doesn't it? But this is how you grow and change. This is how it happens. I know. I am absolutely sure.
I would say that I have learned this. In my early adult years everything was just PERFECT. I think when you're younger, you feel omnipotent. You have it all. But then you experience "hills and valleys." You wake up. And over time, it just happens. You change.
Some days it is tearfully painful. I'd like to share with you how to get through it.
There is only one person to help get you through all of this. Only one (and it's not your best friend, your parents, your spouse, your children, your pastor, your sister or brother. Nope). If you don't know this person, let me introduce you to the one person who you will need . . . the one person who will never let you down. The one person who changes you for the better.
" . . . yea, tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. . . "
Ahh. Such a famous scripture.
Now I know this is not a very popular or fashionable "campaign" these days. (I guess I'll never be the Hollywood type.) But I don't care anymore (what people think), and I guess that is part of my beautiful change. Because I know for sure that absolutely nothing else matters. Nothing. All I need is Jesus.
Sure, I admit it. You all know me well enough to know that I love "worldly" pretty things (pretty clothes, a pretty car, my pretty house and all that comes with it), and . . . my beautiful career. But I know in the end, none of this matters.
In the end, just give me Jesus.
Jesus will walk through it all with you. He won't leave you. He'll be your only friend on some days. But you WILL get to the other side of the valley. All the while, holding His hand . .. the hand of our Savior, the hand of my Savior, Jesus Christ. He has saved me . . . and saved me . . . and saved me. Again, and again. What a friend I have in Jesus. All my sins and griefs to bear.
Change? Yes, I do think it shows on me. You can even spot it at the fairgrounds from a grandstand.
Yes ma'am. I have changed.
And I wouldn't change a thing.
P.S. My favorite scripture these days: "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (II Corinthians 12:10)
P.S.S. Photos below: forklifting the piano to the stage with Don Langlie from Popplers Music (from Grand Forks, ND). Next is pastor Gary Barrett (middle) and helper Rick Smith from the church. Photo below this is of the crowd in the grandstand that day during the praise and worship service with the band. I snapped a quick photo. Be sure to check out that handsome guy in the blue suit looking at me.
P.S.S.S. Speaking of which. Tim has changed too.
Lately I've been sharing road stories on my solo piano Simply Grand tour. It's really fun and sometimes quite funny because, after all these years, I have so many stories to share . . . everything from bats dive-bombing me on stage, to having my bus stolen at intermission, to flooding an entire backstage area (because I hung my dress on a fire sprinkler head . . . yes, they work), to dealing with psycho bus drivers . . . so many stories.
Well, I have a new one.
A few weeks ago we went out (just the "Three Amigos" - my assistant Michele, Tim and me) on a little weekend tour in a rental truck (with the piano in the back, of course). Our first stop was Faribault, Minnesota. An easy drive. The old theatre was located downtown so we pulled up around noon, walked in the front door and checked it out. We always first explore how we'll get the piano up to the stage. Well, this day, which was day number one on the tour, we knew it was going to be challenging, but the staff had assured us before we arrived that we'd have six volunteers waiting to help us out.
No one showed up. Not one volunteer. So, in this case, as you know, I always send cute Michele out on the street to find guys to help us move my piano up the ramp and onto the stage. For this move on this day, because it was steep, we'd need four or five guys. The potential of finding candidates in this downtown area did not look promising. So Tim and I joined in with Michele on the hunt, all splitting up with phones in hand so we could text each other if and when we found a volunteer.
I was by myself and the street I first turned onto was so promising. I giggled because if it was a contest (which sometimes it is), I would win. There it was, a big, beautiful sign in bold blue letters.
I went inside to the front enclosed window and was greeted by a younger girl. I asked if there was anyone available for just 10 minutes to help us push a piano up a ramp onto the stage in the old theatre around the corner. She was obviously not very excited, but I'll give it to her . . . she at least went away for three minutes pretending to inquire about my unusual request.
When she reappeared at the window, I knew it wasn't promising. "We don't do this type of thing. I suggest you go down two more blocks to the FIRE DEPARTMENT."
Surely the Fire Department would help us! They "do that type of thing." So, I ran out and saw Tim (who still had no luck) and shared this new plan. Tim thought the idea was brillant. We quickly walked two blocks to the FIRE DEPARTMENT and rang the buzzer both in the front and back of the building. No one was there. We called and heard the phone ringing. (The ringing was us calling them.) The answering machine came on saying no one was available.
So . . . back to the POLICE DEPARTMENT. Surely they could find someone to help us. When we walked through the front door, the same girl had that same look on her face. Once again she told me "we don't do that type of thing."
We were running out of time. Now I'm getting nervous.
Now what? We walked out of the POLICE DEPARTMENT and here comes this kid down the street, kind of rough looking, pants sagging, hanging low, hat on backwards, smoking a cigarette. He walks by us with swagger and Tim says, "hey! Would you mind helping us move a piano up to the stage in the theatre around the corner?" The kid looked us up and down (like we were crazy), tossed his cigarette, and said, "sure."
"What's your name?"
Oh my gosh. We were so excited to have someone. But we needed at least four more people to make it work. So I said, "do you have a friend, someone who could help us?" We're walking fast now.
"Oh yea. I've gotta guy."
Brandon happened to be the manager of the SUBWAY, located across from the theatre. He said he'd go and get his friend who was working with him that day. He said he was big and strong.
Sure enough, here they come in their SUBWAY green t-shirts, and the "guy" is perfect. Yes . . . big, mean-looking, tattoos everywhere, shaved head, noticable scars. Tough. And strong. He wasn't from around there. He definitely had a story. He'd been somewhere.
About this time, Michele texted and she had two guys, so we were set! The show was going to go on.
My two rough and tough friends from the SUBWAY walked into the theatre with me and I showed them what we were going to do. I was by myself with them because Tim went to gather up Michele and her two pals. I was slightly uncomfortable because, well, I guess I just felt small.
We always put the biggest guy at the top of the ramp on the stage to pull, so that's where we'd put Brandon's friend. I set him up and then asked him his name.
"My name is Leo."
Leo was confident he could pull the whole piano up by himself. He probably could. I was in cut-offs that day and a T-shirt, tennis shoes. I stood off to the side of the ramp, waiting for Tim to (please) reappear soon. While we were waiting, Leo started in.
"I just have to say it. I get things off my chest right away. I'm that kind of guy. When something's on my mind, I just say it. I've always been that way. So I just want to say it."
I'm scared. I'm thinking we already have a problem and we haven't even gotten started. "OK . . . " I say.
He pauses, thinks about it, looks around, and then says it. Just blurts it out.
"You're a very beautiful woman."
I take a breath. I do not know if I want to laugh or cry.
And then he says, "are you married?"
And at that very point in time, Tim walks in with Michele's friends and runs down the aisle.
"Well, yes, that's my husband right there. His name is Tim."
"He's a very lucky guy."
OK . . . now I'm laughing.
We move the piano and in just three minutes, it is to the stage. Leo says he wants to see the piano come out of the case, help tip it. He's standing next to me now. And I'm comfortable.
I ask him. "What's your story? You're definitely not from around here."
Yes, Leo had quite the story.
Leo was from California. He said he'd been in quite a bit of trouble, belonged to gangs, sold drugs, and ended up in prison for three years. His dad had committed murder and would be in jail for life. Leo decided after he'd gotten out of prison that he didn't want to end up like that. He would change. So, he decided to quit the gangs, quit the drug dealing. But it didn't work. A few months later he was back in the gangs, back selling drugs, and this time the "Feds" came knocking on his door. He was in big trouble.
In the middle of his sentence, he turned and looked at me very seriously and said, "are you a faith person?"
Indeed I am, Leo.
Leo had a choice. Either 10 more years in prison, or move to Minnesota and join Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge, a wonderful faith-based addiction rehab center with a fabulous support program. Leo decided on the obvious.
"John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son." "That's my favorite scripture," says Leo.
Leo proudly announced he'd been in the program and clean for three years. "I'm a people person!" Leo was speaking in churches, telling his story. He pointed to the scar above his wrist and said his uncle had tried to cut his hand off. The scar around his neck was from a box cutter. All part of his story.
After we tipped the piano, I invited Leo back to load the piano back into the truck after the show at the end of the evening. I have to admit that he came into my mind while playing the piano (for a wonderful crowd) that night many times. I was anxious to see him after the show.
Leo did not show up.
I was bummed.
We moved on to the next city. The next show. I thought about Leo for many days.
Two weeks later, we just so happened to drive through Fairbault. I was on my way to a church appearance in Nemaha, so we stopped in to see if Brandon and Leo were there making sandwiches. Sure enough, both were working that day. Tim ordered a sub sandwich and I asked if they'd take their picture with me. They paused and popped outside on the street below the SUBWAY sign and Tim took a quick photo of us with my phone.
I asked Leo why he never came back that night. He said he had a part-time job (on-call) where he delivered hogs on a hog farm. He'd gotten a call that night and had to make an emergency run out to help deliver a piglet. He didn't have my number and had no idea who I was or how to call me.
I was so relieved. We quickly caught up and he said he was speaking in church the next day. Telling his story.
I have to say I was tearfully proud.
So. . . hey, everybody . . . meet my new friend.
Just another day in the life of Lorie Line.
Pictured above from left to right: Brandon, Lorie . . . and Leo.
"Copying is the greatest form of flattery . . . until it happens to you."
I'll never forget those words. They were spoken to me by artist Robert Olson. It was 1994.
We were officing in downtown Wayzata. Unlike today, CDs were selling in retail stores like crazy. Lorie Line Music had six employees in our little building. We had a full-time guy in our office whose sole responsibility was to pack and ship orders every day. Parking was (and still is) hard to come by in this little town, but luckily for us, we owned our own parking lot that butted up to the building. All six spots were taken every day from our employees, Tim and me.
We noticed there was an attractive (and very fashionable) woman who had started parking in our private lot every day. She worked across the street and would comfortably pull up, park, and jump out and run across the street to work in the neighboring building. Well, one day I decided I would go out and politely ask her not to park in our lot as we needed all of the spaces. It's amazing, but this small conversation in the Lorie Line Music parking lot turned into a lovely 23-year friendship. Meet Jeanne Jackson.
"Aren't you Lorie Line?" Jeanne was working for Robert Olson, an amazing artist who specialized in painting women, most often with instruments. He was very popular, in his heyday, and was getting ready to release another new painting, I believe called Mother and Child. Jeanne was the event planner and asked if I would play for the unveiling of the painting. It was going to be held at Tour de France world champion bicyclist Greg Lemond's home.
Sure enough, next thing I know I am in the living room at Greg Lemond's house playing the piano. Robert's large painting was draped in black and sat on an easel next to me. I remember that I wore a pretty black party dress that night.
Jeanne was running around, doing her thing and from the piano bench I took in all the excitement from the room. There, off to the side was the handsome and highly successful artist of the evening. He had sandy blonde shoulder-length whispy hair and a scruffy beard. I think he wore jeans and a sport coat that night. Robert was truly charming, greeting all the guests with a timid smile on his face. You could tell that he was super proud. We made eyes several times that evening and I knew we would become great friends.
While I was playing, Greg Lemond sat down next to me (and almost knocked me over on the bench). "Hi! I'm Greg!" Now . . . Greg has a very fun, loud, and extremely confident personality. Tons of energy. (His personality explains why he has been so successful.) I tried to be cute, and in my own way, I said, "ya know, I think I knew that. Actually, Greg, I've known you for years . . . but you don't know me. You'll never believe this, but I know you grew up in Reno. Well, so did I. You went to Wooster High School, I went to Hug High School. We're a couple of years apart, but I've followed you for years, since you were a teenager riding your bike in Washoe Valley. And, what's weird about our story is that . . . here we are . . . we both ended up in Minnesota! And to make our world even smaller, our daughters are in kindergarten together in the same classroom. They're friends."
I don't think Greg gets knocked over too easily. But I knocked him over that night.
The evening was lovely. So memorable. The painting was a hit for Robert. And suddenly Tim and I were friends with this whole new group of people . . . Jeanne Jackson (and her boyfriend Dario Anselmo), Robert and Nancy Olson, and Greg and Kathy Lemond.
Young super entrepreneuers. All inventors. Creating their own path.
I don't know what it was about the times, but we did so much more socially. We were in our early 30s. Everyone had kids (but Dario and Jeanne), super busy careers, and somehow we were always ready at the drop of a hat to host (or attend) a dinner party. For a few years, we all took turns and went to each other's houses. It was a magical time.
The night that Robert and Nancy hosted dinner at their home/studio, both Tim and I felt like we had died and gone to heaven. It's hard to create the visual picture, but when you walked through the front door you were suddenly in Italy in an amazing art gallery. His vestibule had floor-to-ceiling paintings (and you loved all of them) that took you around the corner into the huge main art living room studio where Robert worked and painted every day. His home was rustic with open beams, high ceilings and intimate vignettes with beautiful paintings of naked women on several walls. That night, for dinner he set up a large dining room table in the middle of the room (with candlelight). Typically this main room was fairly empty, all open to be able to move around props, tables, and special lighting . . . but this night it was special, just for us. If you went upstairs, there was an open loft that hosted the coffee bar. If you went downstairs, you were in his European kitchen. Their master suite was off to the side. I'd never seen anything so creative in my life and when we went home at 2:00 in the morning, Tim and I laid in bed until the sun came up. We couldn't sleep. It was the first time we remember having a new dream. We would build a new home.
Robert always liked hanging out with me. He was personally proud of me. He knew I was onto something big. Thinking differently. Whenever this group got together, he always got me off to the side and made sure to connect in a meaningful and heartfelt way. But I could see he was troubled. Competition was hitting him hard. It bothered him. Everyone was copying his paintings and although I felt pianists were out there trying to do what I was doing, I wasn't experiencing the mental fatigue that he was going through. He was truly in agony trying to stay ahead of all the "copiers." I'd encourage him, tell him he was unique. Better than all the rest. The copiers will push you into something new that only you can do. Keep going. You'll find your way.
The next year we hired Robert to paint an original of Kendall and me at the piano. We were doing a PBS special and needed a beautiful piece for the cover. Why not hire Robert? And so, after many hours of sitting still at the piano with a 5-year old, Heart and Soul was created.
Shortly after the PBS special, fans started asking me to publish my music. They wanted to play it "just like me." In other words, when you really think about it. . . copy my creative work. My "inventions" . . . that made me unique, one-of-a-kind. Yikes. I remember at first having some reservation (thinking of Robert's words.) Are any pianists doing this? Not really. I'm going to walk into Nordstrom and hear someone playing MY music. I'll be sitting in church and someone will play MY arrangement of a hymn. Will I like that? Hmmmm.
I thought about it alot and decided I would just try it. I decided I would jump in, that what I had was unique, never mine from the beginning anyway, given to me as a gift from God. I was being pushed into something new. Like my words to Robert, I would find my way.
The first piece of music I published was Threads of Love. I woke up and overnight we had invented a whole new business wing at Lorie Line Music. Piano playing fans wanted it! Hurray! And it was the beginning of something fabulous. "Recording artist" Lorie Line was now "published artist" Lorie Line.
Today I simply love it when I hear my music being played by another pianist.
For me, it truly is . . . the greatest form of flattery.
Robert Olson's original painting Heart and Soul hangs in the entrance of Tim and Lorie's home today (photo featured above with Lorie 23 years later).
To this day, the publishing wing is the most profitable area of business at Lorie Line Music, having over 50 books of published music.
Tim and Lorie bought property and built their dream home on Lake Minnetonka. They moved in two years after meeting Robert Olson, on Christmas Eve 1996. They have resided there 22 years.
Jeanne Jackson married Dario Anselmo (who is now Minnesota Congressman Anselmo). She continues to be an event planner, florist and decorator. They have three teenagers. The Lines and Anselmos are friends to this day.
Greg and Kathy are selling their Minnesota home. They are moving to Tennessee.
Robert and Nancy divorced. Tim and Lorie saw Nancy a couple years ago in a coffee shop outside of town. She had remarried.
Sadly, Robert stopped painting. No one has seen him in years. He is truly missed.
DAUGHTER OF THE KING/Fall Blog 2017
I have some amazing fans who pray for me every day. I don't ask them to. They just do because they genuinely love and care about me. I'm so blessed to have my own personal warriors out there in the world.
Over the past two years I have had a series of private concerts in my home called The Living Room Series. It has been the most fun and exciting thing I've ever done in my career. I guess you'd say it was just another way of "reinventing myself" after all these years. I'd heard about other well-known pianists doing it and wondered if my friends and fans would really want to come and see me play the piano in my own home. Well, it was a hit.
It actually was a very brave move and honestly I was somewhat nervous, because it was so very personal. We would be opening up our home. People would see how we lived, how we kept things, what I collected, my kitchen and where I cook every day, and . . . how my carpet on the stairs was slightly worn out and needed to be replaced after all these years. Fans and friends would see the "world headquarters" of Lorie Line Music, Inc.
Tim and I decided we were on.
Oh, I'm so glad. A few people gave me the highest compliment and said the idea was "genius." I'm not a genius. It was just a perfect blend of things I love. I love my home. I love to entertain. And I love my fans.
One of my favorite things about this very special evening in my home is greeting my fans at the front entrance of the house. I'm so excited to see everyone that I actually get butterflies just waiting for my guests to arrive and spend the evening with me. (I recognize and know most everyone who comes because I've seen them so many times over the years.) Friends have come from all over the world, even Hong Kong and Norway. One night we had 12 States represented. And then there are my friends from church. They have come too.
Well, one night, one of my amazing fans and a very special friend, Kathy Wise (whose name befits her), stepped up to say hello. This particular night she knew I was experiencing some real life challenges. She gave me a hug.
And I'll never forget what she said to me.
" . . . what some people don't know about you, Lorie, is that you are special. You, my dear, are a daughter of The King."
I was so deeply touched. I guess I had never thought about it in those words. But I immediately started walking differently, holding my head a little higher. My faith was restored.
I am special. I am a daughter of The King.
And thus, this year's holiday show began to develop. Her Wise words rang in my ears for days. From that moment on I kept thinking about "The King." When my heart was heavy, just as I did when I was little, I would think of myself as a queen. Special. In charge. Strong. Not defeated.
And so, one day it came to me. KING OF KINGS. Of course! My King. My Lord of Lords. Living forever and ever . . . in me.
That's what the birth of Jesus means to me. Christmas. My King of Kings.
In my 28 years of touring, this year's theme and title is my favorite.
KING OF KINGS. And Lord of Lords. And He shall live forever and ever.
To come and see this year's show, KING OF KINGS, you can purchase tickets by clicking on this link, or feel free to call us at 952-474-1000. http://www.lorieline.com/tour.php. Christmas is just around the corner and I hope to see you when I stop in your town!
If you are interested in The 2018 Living Room Series, email us at email@example.com. Please provide your name and mailing address and we will send you a private invitation in the mail at the end of the year.
The above photo was taken a few weeks ago when Tim and Lorie went to The Walker Arts Center for the Wayzata Garden Club couples night. Lorie has been a member of the Wayzata Garden Club for 15 years.
Kathy Wise lives down the road from Tim and Lorie Line. She has been a friend and fan for over 20 years.
I share this story to inspire you.
Our daughter got married this year. It was in March and the wedding was in Baton Rouge. William and his family are from that part of the country and our daughter now lives there. She has a great job and two dogs.
Instead of flying, Tim and I decided to drive from Minneapolis to Baton Rouge, straight south. It's a two-day drive, actually a lot shorter than I thought it would be. We both thought it would be nice to take our own car (it has 180,000 miles on it) and take our time. It would be our only vacation this year and we'd be there a week. On a fun note, Tim volunteered to be the DJ at the wedding reception (can you imagine how great he was . . . ), so we had a lot of sound gear to pack and bring along. For me, I liked the idea of driving because I thought it would be nice to just sit and do nothing. We work so hard.
About six hours into the trip, I had my iPad out and told Tim I had heard that some of my retired and out-of-print music books were starting to become valuable. It was rumored that people were trying to sell some of my books on Ebay for big bucks. I've never looked at that kind of thing before, but because I had time, I decided to look on Ebay and see if there were any Lorie Line music books for sale. Sure enough, Music From The Heart was the first book that popped up. Two people were trying to get $300 to $500 for their book. (Personally, I have one copy and there is a sticker on the cover that says DO NOT SELL. LORIE'S COPY.) Well, I scrolled down and here comes up another book, VOGUE. The seller was asking $1700 for the book. Are you kidding me?! Now, they probably won't get that kind of money for the book, but how flattering was that!
Here's the deal. Some of my books are retired and/or out-of-print because the licenses are just too expensive to purchase again. With about 50 books in our inventory, we have to decide if the cost (and the risk) is worth it. Because of this, some of my books have become valuable.
Well, the next book that is out of print and starting to become valuable is SIMPLY GRAND.
So, today I'd like to share with you the story of SIMPLY GRAND.
Seventeen years ago I recorded this solo piano album and published the music book. I made the horrible mistake of giving it to our local Minneapolis music critic, Jon Bream. Now I would describe Jon as "old and curmudgeonly." I would never be his type. No matter what (although the most flattering thing he ever said about me was that I was a modern-day Audrey Hepburn). But I'm not his type because I'm not a granola girl. I love beautiful things. I have a different faith. And I'm happy.
Jon is the kind of critic who says a few nice things about you, then takes you down. Oh, so low. It cuts straight to the heart. Or really the gut. For my album SIMPLY GRAND, he said a few nice things, but his last sentence is one I will never forget . . . something like . . . "this album is nice, but really it is just a little more simple . . . than it is grand."
Straight to the heart. My heart. Of course I recovered, but I never passed along another album to him, and to this day I have never seen or heard another word from Mr. Bream.
In church the other day I listened to how Abraham waited and waited for God's promise to be fulfilled. How he begged God to give him a son, bless him and multiply his family. How God took him outside and showed him the stars in the heavens. How he waited and waited, until it was impossible to even conceive a child. But God said, "oh, you just wait. . . ."
Abraham was in his 80's. And then it happened.
So here I am . . . 17 years later. And now I'm almost 60 years old.
Here's how my story ends. Today, if you type in my name (Lorie Line Radio) on Pandora (which is the most popular digital music radio station in the world), guess what comes up? A song off of my SIMPLY GRAND album. It's called Time To Say Goodbye. I would have never predicted this. It's been playing since Pandora came into existence.
So . . . guess how many times this one song has played on Pandora over the years? 100,000 times? Ah, that's a good guess.
A half million times? That's a very good guess.
A million? Really? You're kidding me . . . but you're getting closer.
Ok Lorie! Five million spins! (that's what they call it on Pandora . . . "spins").
10 million times.
So. . . I will now tell you.
Are you sitting down? I am. Because it's so hard to believe. It's like God taking Abraham outside and having him look into the heavens and count the stars. So let's go outside. Come outside with me. Look with me into the heavens.
Look up. Count the stars.
Are you ready? Here we go.
85 million times.
Yes. I will type that one out. Eighty-five million spins for Time To Say Goodbye off of SIMPLY GRAND. One song. And I have 14 additional songs off the album that have been played a total of 64 million times (In The Looking Glass; Norwegian Wood; Sweet Dreams; Nevada Skies, and more).
I don't think I could ever count 85 million stars in the sky.
I guess sometimes it pays to be . . . simple.
Oh victory in Jesus, my Savior forever.
SIMPLY GRAND is Lorie Line's best selling music book of all time.
If you are interested in hearing Time To Say Goodbye and other songs off of SIMPLY GRAND, just type in Lorie Line Radio on Pandora and the songs off this album will come up on your play list.
Time To Say Goodbye is the number one Lorie Line download on SheetMusicPlus.com, an official web site that sells copyright music. You can purchase it on this web site.
Nevada Skies is currently the featured FREE download of the month (September) on the official Lorie Line web site.
Pandora pays a fraction of a penny for every 1500 spins.
To this day, Jon Bream remains a critic at the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Thank you for listening to Lorie's music on Pandora.
About four years ago Tim and I were invited to a dinner party just up the road. I would consider this group my smart, entrepreneurial group of friends and we get together a couple times every year. We all own our own businesses. The host owns a very successful driving school. His wife owns (and most recently sold) a large equestrian retail store. The next couple - he is a surgeon in a private practice and she produces independent documentary films. And then there's Tim and me in the music business. It's an interesting group, that's for sure. We have nothing but everything in common.
I know you're not supposed to do this at a dinner party, but we can't help ourselves. We are all super passionate about the world and we typically end up talking politics (and religion . . . to make it an even trickier night). We don't always agree, but we always end up friends at the end of the evening. Obviously, because we've been doing these dinner parties now for 20 years.
This one particular night four years ago is one I will never forget. We were all speculating who was going to run for President and the host said, "I don't care if our next President is a Republican or a Democrat. I just want a business man to run our country."
And there it was. The first time it was ever said out loud. Well, maybe the first time I was listening and heard it. A business man. Someone who might understand our complex and difficult business world. Understand and rally for the entrepreneur.
Who in the world would that possibly be?
Two years later Donald Trump came down that escalator. A Democrat? A Republican? The "business man." Most of our entrepreneurial friends said the same thing. "No matter what, we are voting for him."
A year later (during the primaries when the 17 Republicans were dropping out) we happened to be invited to another social dinner at a country club. We were seated next to a Congressman and Tim asked what he thought the chances were of Donald Trump becoming our next President. The Congressman laughed and said, "he'll never be the President."
Underneath the table, Tim and I were kicking each other. We just knew. We were out there hearing the people. He was going to win.
And he did.
I tell you this story because, no matter what your politics are these days, you can't help but to be fascinated watching the daily news and all the gatherings at the White House. I get excited when I see the chairs lined up all in a row in the press room. I love the beautiful gold draperies behind the desk in the Oval Office. A reporter will be standing on the perfectly groomed grounds. President Trump will walk down that famous walkway to the helicopter. Yes, I get excited.
Because I've been there.
The year was 2000 and I just so happened to have a Christmas concert at Constitution Hall, located across the street from the White House. There was an intern from Concordia College (Moorhead) working for President Clinton who was a huge fan of mine. She saw I was coming to D.C. and asked if I might play the next morning after the concert for the families of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. It was a transitional day. President Clinton was leaving, President Bush was coming in. And this particular day both Presidents would be in the White House.
Well, of course! Yes! I'd love to play!!! Are you kidding me??
It was so exciting. When we arrived we went through the security gates and they took us to a holding area underneath the main common area at the White House. Actually, truth be told it was kind of scary. We were in a very small room. A holding tank. Waiting. Once we got clearance, we headed up some stairs and it was like a magical wand waved over me. I was walking . . . quickly . . . in a crowded area with family members from both Presidents on both sides of me, shoulder to shoulder, wall to wall. There were beautiful Christmas trees and Christmas decorations EVERYWHERE. It was spectacular. The security guards hurried us along until we came to a roped-off area.
There it was. The famous Steinway underneath the John F. Kennedy portrait. And my bench for the morning.
Everyone was gathered around the portrait and behind the ropes. I started to play and it was as though I wasn't really there. I was watching with everyone else.
Off to the side were two musicians from my Pop Chamber Orchestra . . . Kenni Holman on soprano sax, and Carolyn Boulay on violin. These two musicians had been with me the longest, so I selected them to join me for the day. At first, the woman in charge would not let them play, said it would be "too loud." But after an hour or so, I politely asked if we could try one song. She agreed, and Carolyn and Kenni joined me for the remainder of the morning. I think we could have played together all day.
The following morning we were all invited back to have breakfast in the Mess Hall, and take a tour behind the scenes. They said I could bring four guests (and Tim of course). It was tough to decide who would come. Since Kenni and Carolyn went the previous day, I selected vocalist Robert Robinson and Tricia Lerohl (horn) to join me as they were next in line in seniority. That left two open spots.
It just so happened that in the year 2000 our sales team was made up of (none other than) our dads. Yes, my dad and Tim's dad sold merchandise for us in the lobby that year, so we invited them to come along that morning. They were thrilled. Neither had been to the White House before.
The Mess Hall was a tiny restaurant where all the Representatives and Congressmen dined. Back then, Tim and I weren't so politically savvy, but we recognized a few famous politicians eating in the area. Following breakfast our cute little Concordia intern asked if we wanted to go and see the Oval Office. President Clinton was gone that day. She knew his secretary and had cleared the way.
Sure enough, next thing we knew we were being greeted by President Clinton's famous secretary, Betty Curry. She put her lipstick on, and took a few photos with us around the President's desk.
Socks the cat walked by. Was I dreaming?
The last stop was the China Room. It was my personal favorite room in the White House (well, that . . . and the kitchen). All First Ladies have had the privilege of designing their own pattern of china. (I would love that assignment!) On display in beautiful cabinetry were one-of-a-kind place settings of china designed by all of the former First Ladies. It was tough to pick the winner.
This was truly an experience of a lifetime. Democrat or Republican. business man or professional politician. Whomever the President, I hope to have another opportunity to play, even just one more time, underneath the beautiful John F. Kennedy portrait.
To this day, my favorite piece of art on my wall in my home is a simple framed thank-you letter from President Clinton's Social Secretary at the White House.
There were no cell phones back in 2000, so I only have a few precious photos of this day.
Last week we had dinner with our entrepreneurial friends. We got caught up on life, talked about our careers, our kids, religion, and of course . . . politics. Not everone voted for President Trump.
From left to right: Intern, Betty Curry, Lorie Line, Dale Porter (Lorie's dad), Mark Line (Tim's dad), Tricia Lerohl,
Robert Robinson, Tim Line, and the Concordia Intern.
On the holiday tour, I'm almost always the first one up in the morning, and the first one to bed in the evening. My days are long . . . 16 hours . . . 9:00 AM to 1:00 AM. It takes me a few days to get used to that kind of a schedule. Some mornings I will wake up and I do not remember having crawled into my bunk the night before. Seriously. But I love it. I sleep all night on a bus in a dark, tiny, freezing bunk across the aisle from Tim. I will crash eight hours straight, without waking up once.
I'm also the first one out to the bus after the show. I always have a late dinner menu in my head and am anxious to start chopping and cooking for the band and crew. Everyone will be starving. I get about an hour to pull it all together, before the last person . . . Tim . . . (you guessed it) . . . gets on board and we drive all night to the next city.
My meal is always simple and easy, mainly because I don't have a stove or an oven. So, it's soup and sandwiches, fresh fruit, and maybe a special salad. I'll put out pretty cheeses with nuts, and dips that I think even the younger kids might enjoy. Many nights I use a pannini grill or a crockpot. Honestly, everyone is always so hungry that it doesn't matter too much what I put out. They all think it is fabulous and by midnight it will be gone.
A couple days before we leave on tour, I typically go through my kitchen at home and pack up all my favorite things and take them along with me. There are items I just can't live without. Simple things like . . . my knives.
We were almost halfway through the tour this year, show #14. It was a wonderful sold out evening in Luverne, Minnesota. It was a contracted private show for Main Street Financial and it was a very festive night. Many people had never seen me before . . . you know . . . most of them thought they were going to a piano recital. (I love playing to a brand new audience. It's easier to exceed expectations.)
After the show, the executives of Main Street asked if I might greet everyone in the lobby on their way out and take pictures. So as (hundreds of) guests left, I posed for about an hour with anyone and everyone who wanted a photo. (It was cute. I have some of the nicest fans ever.) After taking photos, they kindly asked if I might continue on and attend another "meet and greet" at the bar and restaurant across the street. I declined. After all of the extra festivities that day, I was particularly tired, starving, and I simply couldn't talk anymore. Time to start cooking.
I said "good night" and headed out to the bus. All the other musicians were over at the bar with fans from the show, so it was quiet. I loved it. I was all alone. Ahhhhh. My own space for a very brief moment in time. Tim and the crew would be getting on board in about a half hour now, so I started hurrying a bit and pulling out the food. The very first thing I did was get out my cutting board and some fresh oranges. I pulled out my favorite serrated knife and started cutting beautiful wedges. Three slices into the first orange, I came down hard, and cut the top of my left thumb.
Oh it hurt. No, it really hurt. I pulled back as quickly as I could, and blood gushed and poured on the floor. I was in trouble. The bathroom was only one step away, so I opened the door, turned on cold water and braced myself to see what I had done. My very first and only thought was, "I think I cut it on the top left side. I play on the lower right side. Please God."
It was bad.
In my cosmetic case in my bunk, I had Band Aids. I frantically unwrapped three of them, but they weren't going to do the trick. So I wrapped my finger in a paper towel, sat down and just held it, wondering what to do next. Looking around, we always keep super glue (for our minor cuts on our hands) on the shelf. I took the towel off and poured glue on my open wound. Tears came to my eyes and because no one was around, I admit I may have jumped up and down and screamed in pain. Super glue was not going to help me right now. So, I took gaff tape (which we always keep handy in the top drawer) and wrapped it around the paper towel and my thumb as tightly as possible. When everything was under control again, I cleaned up the floor, re-grouped, and calmly finished making dinner.
The band started coming on board. I didn't tell a soul except the girls . . . Merilee (oboe) and Michele (my assistant). But I didn't make a big deal out of it. Aaaaa, I had a little accident. When Tim saw me, he knew something was wrong. I took him into the galley where the bunks were, closed the door and told him I thought it was pretty bad. Hopefully it had stopped bleeding. I didn't want to unwrap it. We'd look at it in the morning.
All night long the tip of my thumb just throbbed. How in the world would I play a show on it? Not one show. But 16 shows! This would be one night when I would barely sleep at all. I was full of pain. And worry.
The next morning it was just Tim and me at the Cimbali machine. He made me a cup of coffee and I carefully removed the gaff tape and towel. When I showed it to him, he calmly said, "you cut the very tip of your thumb off."
Here's the deal. I don't see up close all that well these days (without reading glasses) and maybe it was a good thing I didn't know this. I knew it was bad, but not that bad.
I stretched my hand out on the countertop, pretending it was a piano. Would the cut area hit the keys? Maybe, but just barely. But could I make it work? Could I possibly play without the use of my thumb? No way. And there was no way I'd be able to play with a Band Aid on it. It would just fly off. And gaff tape? Not going to work.
So our plan went back to my original thinking. Super glue. The bleeding had stopped. Maybe the glue would adhere to my open wound and protect it.
The first round of glue was again very painful. But after it dried and the second round was applied, it was better. Much better. The third round I couldn't feel a thing. And the four application gave me my first ray of hope that I would be able to continue the tour. My biggest concern was my opening winter white dress with white fox fur. One accidental hit too hard on a key, and my thumb would be a gusher. The dress would never be the same. Not to mention that I'd be so embarrassed. (How do you explain that in the middle of a show?!!)
We were now in Alexandria, Minnesota. I wouldn't sit at the piano until 5:45 PM for a sound check. All day I kept applying layers of super glue and letting it dry. When I first sat down to play at the sound check, I played carefully and very lightly. No pain. I couldn't feel anything on the tip of my thumb. The injury was just missing hitting the piano keys. Octaves would be out because the stretch hit the cut, but that would be OK. I could do that. Single notes only in my left hand that night.
The show must go on.
Alexandria ended up being a wonderful show. I made it through. The layers of glue protected me from bleeding and feeling the pain. The cut was already healing, it was amazing.
After the Alex show, members of the band and crew started hearing about and seeing my ailment. Some were horrified! But I didn't want to tell anyone as I didn't want it to be a distraction. Talking about it wouldn't make it any better. (Although I am not Norwegian or a native Minnesotan, I guess I've "become" one.) But everyone said the same thing.
"This is a good blog, Lorie. No one would ever believe it."
I've been through almost everything on a tour. Storms and bad weather (of course), busses breaking down, bats dive-bombing me on stage, tripping and falling, the electricity going out, sickness, theft, guns, drugs, affairs. A tragic suicide in my family the day of a show. I've literally personally flooded a theater. Once my bus was stolen at intermission and my piano tuner was on it and was held hostage. No kidding. The most interesting thing about being an entertainer on stage is that no one knows what happened to you that day. So I hope to be able to share more stories with you as they are compelling, interesting and unbelievable. Whenever I have new cast members on a tour, we always have to have one night of "Lorie's tour stories."
Obviously the story I have shared with you in this blog is brand new.
Tim took this photo on day #2 after my accident and after three applications of super glue. I played that evening and 16 shows after this injury.
Today my thumb is completely healed. If you look closely, you can see that a little piece is missing. I have a weird sensation, but I think that too, will eventually return to normal. I highly recommend super glue (gel).
I know there are a lot of people (my super fans who are my guardian angels) who keep me in their prayers when I'm out on a tour. Thank you for watching over me. It could have been a lot worse.
I have quickly learned to cut citrus with a new knife technique, always pulling back my thumb.
Tomorrow I am scheduling lasik eye surgery.
* * * *
On a completely different note, those of you who have been following the story of the turbulent politics of the City of Orono, (the city where I live), here is an article that was published this week in our local paper. I thought you might find it interesting.
I really don't like social media. Those of you who know me well. . . are you surprised? Twitter, Instagram, facebook . . . not really my thing. Seriously, I don't have the energy, time or genuine interest in all of that. (There are so many things I'd rather do.) But several years ago a fan emailed me and said, "Lorie, I'm so glad you are on facebook! I friended you today!" I wrote her back. "I'm not on facebook, never will be." She replied, "oh, yes you are. Your site launched a couple days ago and I am already one of 200 fans!"
Sure enough, I typed up my name and there it was. Lorie Line. Whoever she was, "she" already had over 200 active fans, and was talking to them like she knew them . . . owned them. Many of my professional photos were on the site. (She . . . or he . . . stole them!) The site was very professionally done. It seriously looked like it was me. The original Lorie Line. But it wasn't.
Do you know how hard it is to get rid of an imposter on a social media site? Oh my goodness, I had to humble myself and take a photo with a big sign next to my face that said "I am the real Lorie Line." I wore one of my tour sweatshirts that had my name on it. One week later, facebook shut down the site. Phew. I'm glad that's over.
One month later it was back up. A new Lorie Line imposter. Oh no. Here we go again.
This is what forced me into facebook. I reluctantly claimed my name and launched an official Lorie Line site. I didn't want to have anything to do with it, so my office manager posted photos and blurbs every once in a while (which I approved). In a short time, I had 5000 personal "friends" and that moved us onto a fan site which today hosts about 6,000 additional fans who "like" me. The interesting thing about facebook is that everyone thinks it boosts your business. Not mine. Not really. It's mainly just a social thing. The heartbeat of my business is, and will always be . . .
"Mainstream" media is a hot topic right now. I have many stories, some which are so fun to tell, and some which are so heartbreaking that I'll never be able to share them (until my book comes out). I've lived through almost 30 years of media, from the beginnings of a career . . . to the uprise, to the fall, to the "recovery," to . . . well, I guess, still being out there. All of this has happened to me while raising two complex kids, and being married to the person I love and work with every day.
When you are first starting out and have a new idea and it seems to be going well, the media LOVES you. It is a fresh, new story and they can't wait to talk to (and about) you. They actually listen, quote you accurately, and praise you for your bravery, entrepreneurship, creativity, stamina, brillance, beauty, talent, and style. This happened to me when I first had the inkling that I might be a successful pianist/composer/arranger. I think my story was told in every newspaper and magazine in the midwest and I was even published in a few books and national magazines. I framed just about every feature, and at our Lorie Line Music office in Wayzata, when you walked in it looked like a museum.
After our success and "rise to fame," the articles stopped. We actually had a full-time public relations person whom we let go because no one was interested anymore in the Lorie Line phenomenum. In defense of the media, many of the writers lost their jobs. Newspapers were barely in business. The entertainment section disappeared. No one was writing about or reviewing shows anymore. There was no budget. And not much has happened since then.
Today, if there is a writer on staff, I'd say most of them are young and have no connection or history with the community or a story like mine. They weren't even born when my story was born, and they have no ties to the area. So, when a story starts out, "Minnesota native vocalist Lori Line . . . " I know it's not going to be good. (I'm not a Minnesota native. I'm not a vocalist. And they have misspelled my name which is a big part of my brand.) When a feature article starts out like that, I can promise you I don't even read it (and neither does Tim). I throw it away. Because tomorrow I have to wake up, jump out of bed, and make beautiful music for the fans who love me.
When we held The Living Room Series in our home this year, I dug out and hung one of the framed articles that was once on display at our Wayzata office. Everyone loved it and every time I walked by people were reading the article and looking at the beautiful photography. I wondered if I shouldn't go out to our warehouse and get all the remaining framed pieces. (I had so much I could create a gallery.) After the June series, I brought them home. Slowly but surely the hallway on our lower level turned into . . . and is once again . . . the Lorie Line museum.
I am so grateful for the many positive and beautiful stories that many dedicated journalists have written about me (and Tim) in my career.
The above photo launched me into social media.
The photo at the top is the new Lorie Line gallery in our home. There is an empty wall around the corner.
I could never be a singer. It's not that I can't sing. It's just that when I'm really touched by beautiful music, nothing comes out of my mouth.
When I was a senior in college I had to take Choir. I loved it. It was the first time I learned and sang The Hallelujah Chorus. We worked all semester on it. Now I know most people have sung this beautiful masterpiece, but growing up in my small a cappella church, I don't ever think I had heard it before, let alone had the opportunity to sing it in a big group with great singers. So, here we all were, standing on a riser singing Handel's most well-known and beloved piece in front of about a thousand people. We were ready. The intro played and then the first word came . . . "Hallelujah . . . "
That was the only word I sang. I broke down in tears, it was just so magnificent to me. "King of Kings, and Lord of Lords . . . and He shall reign forever and ever . . ."
So when Jane (from Gilman, Iowa) walked up to meet me in my driveway the second night of The Living Room Series and she couldn't speak, through her tears I got it. I call it The Sisterhood. My new sister Jane. We embraced and I knew we'd have a chance to catch up later in the evening.
The concept of The Living Room Series was a dream come true. Honestly, we went on sale a year in advance, not knowing if anyone would even come. Obviously, it was a hit and the whole thing gave both Tim and me a boost of confidence that we really needed.
We started to physically work on everything in March. We had three months to make our place beautiful. The weather was nice enough to start scraping the gardens, so when the sun was out, we were out. I made a set list of what I'd perform and started to play the music in my head and hands when I was in the gardens. When I wasn't sure about things, I'd go inside and sit at the piano, play the music and then go back outside.
In April the gardens were clean so we took on bigger projects. We decided to paint a "few" things. First we'd paint the trellis in the shade garden. I painted the sides and Tim got on the ladder and painted the top. Because of the rain it took us the entire month. Next it was time for Tim to start hedging so I painted the dock. While he trimmed and edged, I stained our three garage doors, the entry gate door, the outdoor kitchen cabinetry and then I spray-painted an old bench where my guests would sit when they arrived.
Another month had passed. It was now May. Tim turned the dirt and the earth was warm enough for planting, so I spent the next week installing the 700 flowers we had greenhoused all winter. While I was in the dirt, I started memorizing the show and thinking of all the stories I wanted to share with everyone who was coming to see me.
Before dinner, each night I'd run inside and sit at the piano and play the show top to bottom. I'd revise and tweak it, eat and go back outside. One night I got into bed and noticed my hands were sore from hoeing, planting, painting. And practicing.
It was down to the wire. We had one week to go before opening night. At the last minute we decided to paint the mailbox, the entrance antique pillars and the front retaining wall. I don't know why, but Tim and I barely spoke as we silently rolled on five gallons of paint. Those were happy days for us. We were coming to the end. It was here.
The day before opening night I gathered Tim, Michele (my assistant) and Jackson (my son) and we met at the entrance of the driveway. We physically walked through everything, from the moment guests would arrive and checking them in . . . to the garden tour (and what to say), to seating everyone, to taking a group picture, to ushering everyone to the lower level (where we'd serve dessert and coffee), to finally walking guests out of the house (with a bottle of water when they'd leave). Every detail was in place. We were all excited. And super nervous.
It was 3:00 pm. Guests would be arriving in four hours. At the last minute, I decided to bake my Sticky Toffee Date Cake. (Was I insane?) No. I was ready.
Fans came from all over the country. Some nights up to 10 states were represented (from North Carolina to Florida, from Wyoming and Oklahoma to California). I was so touched having people come from all over the country to celebrate the evening with me in my own home. These fans weren't just "Linebackers." After doing this for 27 years, a new name came to me.
The Super Fans.
After the concert, Jane met me at my signing table and once again tried to talk. It was the cutest thing ever. She said, "you know what I love about you Lorie? You're just like us. Plain and simple." Her sisters stood next to her and gasped and said, "she is not, Jane!" I laughed and looked at Jane, and she said, "you get it, don't you, Lorie? You know what I mean."
Yes. I do.
Plain and simple. From scraping, hoeing, painting, practicing and memorizing music and stories in my head while planting flowers in the dirt. And . . . at the last minute baking my favorite cake for my favorite people in the whole world. Fans like Jane. My Sisterhood.
I've played in many special places and for many special occasions, but nothing has been more exciting, exhilarating and meaningful in my career than playing The Living Room Series in my own home. So when people now ask me "what's the most favorite place where you have played?" I have a new answer.
Plain and simple.
The above photo was taken at dinner a week ago on my birthday, June 20th. We took a week off and went on a cruise to Alaska. I took two naps a day.
My Sticky Toffee Date Cake was a hit. It is from Ina Garten's FOOLPROOF (purple) recipe book, page 220.
If you are coming to the August series, look for a package in the mail and an email from us end of July. See you soon!
This new little church Tim and I are attending believes in spiritual gifts. Neither of us grew up with this and it is all-new thinking . . . which we are actually enjoying. Personally, I've never seen a supernatural gift or a miracle. However, I do believe certain people have a gift that manifests itself through the Holy Spirit. They have an extraordinary thing going on.
My obvious gift would be the gift of music. But my other gift which isn't so obvious is the gift of gut instinct. I have an unusual ability to read a person or a situation pretty well. Some mornings I will wake up and tell Tim about a new insight that was revealed to me in the middle of the night. When I first started sharing my early morning thoughts, Tim would half-listen to me or maybe laugh a little bit. He doesn't do that anymore.
When my two kids were little, they'd say "but Mom, how do you know?" I'd joke with them innocently and say "the Holy Ghost told me" and we'd laugh. Today they still challenge my insights, but at least they listen. Well, maybe just a little bit. Admittedly, most of what I say just comes from experience.
So when I walked into my interview and sat down with a new panel of national judges at the America's Junior Miss pageant and they called me "Lenne" instead of "Lorie," I knew it was over. She was going to be the winner.
Miss Washington had just walked out and I was next. I would describe Lenne Jo as cute . . . not pretty, or beautiful . . . but cute. Snappy. She was short, had a bubbly personality, a fun smile and a cute short haircut. It was 1976 and shorter hair had just come back into style. (Someone talked me into cutting mine too, and looking back I wish I hadn't done that.)
After winning Nevada's Junior Miss, I had about two months to prepare for America's Junior Miss. We were serious now. The first thing was to up the ante on my piano piece. Alleta said we needed something more showy, more demanding. We selected Malaguena. It fit the time constraints, it was a more recognizable tune, and it was difficult. So I got up early before school and started learning it. With the average-size stretch in my hands, I dedicated my after-school hours to mastering the octaves.
It was a ton of work getting ready to go. I decided to enter the national sponsor scholarship programs. The national sponsors were Kraft, Kodak and Breck. For Kraft you had to host a dinner party and document the event, complete with photography and original recipes (utilizing their products). My mom and I had so much fun pulling this together and we invited a school friend and his family to join us for the dinner party. For Kodak you had to prepare a photo album/scrap book of the Junior Miss experience utilizing their film. For Breck you had to do a hair photo shoot.
The most fun part of getting ready to go was the shopping!! There were a ton of local Reno stores who donated clothing and pretty items to take along with me to Mobile, Alabama. So it seemed I was shopping almost every weekend in stores I'd never been in before. Honestly, I had really never "shopped" before and it was a breathtaking experience. I couldn't believe I was walking out with something beautiful in my arms that was donated to me . . . free.
The Junior Miss committee went with me on most of my excursions. We picked out two pageant dresses and Alleta helped to select my performance dress which had a Spanish flare to it . . . perfect for Malaguena. It was hand-embroidered and had big wide panels, so unusual and very couture for the time. They made sure I had pretty jewelry and casual clothes to wear for the events during the day. I felt so spoiled. I was seriously overwhelmed with all the attention and everyone's generosity.
It was such a special event that my parents saved everything they could and bought plane tickets to go. My grandparents jumped in too, and it was thrilling to think they would all be there with me for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
When I arrived to Mobile, Alabama my host family walked me into the great exhibition hall where all the cameras were setting up for this nationally televised event. There in alphabetical order were all the girls and their states they represented. Nevada was in the middle and there I was. It was the biggest photo ever and I started looking at all the other candidates from the remaining 49 states. We all kind of looked the same. . . no one was "the most beautiful of all." We were just a bunch of ambitious girls up there on a wall of fame with dreams.
The first day we met the Master of Ceremonies, Michael Landon. It just so happened his dressing room was right next to mine, so I saw him often and shyly said "hi" in passing. Yes, he was as handsome in person as he was on Little House On The Prairie. My goodness, he had great hair.
All the girls nervously met and everyone wanted to know what their talent was. It ended up that out of 50 states, about 5 of us were going to play the piano. I couldn't wait to hear what the others had selected.
And it came time. The old Steinway piano from backstage was rolled out and the pianists had a chance to practice and play on it. The first girl sat down. She played her first notes.
It was Malaguena. Oh no.
The second girl stepped up onto the stage, sat down and played her first notes.
It was Malaguena. Oh no.
And then me.
The two remaining pianists played simple pop songs, but for the three contenders playing Malaguena it was a phychological nightmare. The other two pianists had edited their version (leaving out some of the harder parts). I played mine unedited, top to bottom, but I knew the judges wouldn't notice this little detail.
After a week of working on the pageant, my parents and grandparents flew in. "Everyone is playing Malaguena." I felt I played the piece the best, but it wouldn't matter as our idea wasn't unique enough. Too many girls were playing the same thing.
The night of the pageant came and we were all excited to be on national TV. We all got to walk up to the microphone, say our name and the name of our high school. I swear when it was my turn I heard everyone back home cheering me on. They announced the top five talent finalists. None of us playing Malaguena made it. The evening was going to be oh so short, but oh so long.
Miss Washington made the top five. There she was, her cute little self, and for her talent she showed off her public speaking abilities and recited a poem, using that wide smile and swinging her cute bob side to side.
I did not win anything that night, but the national sponsors later announced the winners. Unbelievable, I won both Kraft and Kodak awards. Kodak gave me a $1000 scholarship and a new camera and enough film for a lifetime. Kraft gave me a $2500 scholarship. And funny thing, you'd think the first thing ever published in my lifetime would be a piece of music. Nope. Kraft published my recipes from my Country Cookin' dinner party in their 1976 Hostess Awards cookbook. Today that cookbook proudly sits on my shelf in my kitchen (right next to every volume of Ina Garten . . . my hero as you know).
It was all adding up. More scholarship money to go to the "college of my choice." And the Junior Miss program also offered full-ride scholarships to a dozen different schools across the country.
I now had enough money to get there. And you can bet I was going to go.
Many thanks to the Junior Miss program.
Florida College, here I come!
The above photo was taken during the talent competition at the America's Junior Miss pageant, May, 1976. Lorie Line (then Lorie Porter) was 17. The photo now sits on a shelf in Studio L, Lorie's recording studio.
The America's Junior Miss Competition is no longer a pageant. Today it is the Distinguished Young Women Program.
Miss Washington's parents won Congeniality Parents of the Week. (The force is strong.)
Below is the Kraft cookbook publication which featured Lorie's Country Chicken Casserole. She never made it again.
There have been a few very special occasions or moments in my life that I will never forget. I suppose the most memorable day was when I married Tim. Next might be playing at the White House (which I hope to some day blog about). Certainly adopting each of our kids would be at the top of my list. And selling out my first concert at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis and also performing at the Crystal Cathedral in California will be days I will reflect on all my life.
But one of the favorite things that happened to me took place 40 years ago. 1976. I was a 17, a senior in high school.
It was so unexpected.
I had bought my first car (from piano scholarship competition money) and needed to buy car insurance. It was $300 and I didn't have the money. Someone at school told me about a pageant I should enter, simply to win the Talent division. It was kind of like Miss America, but for teenagers. The talent scholarship alone paid $300, which was perfect for my "situation." I never saw myself as a "pageant girl" but I signed up, actually having no idea what I was getting myself into. The pageant was called Nevada's Junior Miss.
Once I entered, we got all kinds of forms and material to read in the mail. Of course the thing I was most interested in was the talent portion. There was a performance time limit, so my piano teacher, Alleta Gray, would have to come up with something that I could learn fairly quickly that would be within their time constraints. It would have to be "showy." She decided on Debussy's Valse Romantique. It was very pretty and quite stage-worthy . . . had a little drama at the end. I began to learn and memorize it, and we were off and running.
My mom and I went to K-Mart to buy fabric for a new dress that she would make for me. We selected a pretty pale pink velour. The dress was simple but somewhat special as it had a little bolero jacket that she creatively trimmed with pink ostrich feathers. Pretty fancy for a small-town girl from Reno.
I was set.
When I arrived at the pageant I realized I didn't know a soul. I hadn't even thought about this but there were a ton of girls who were already friends, but no one from my school entered the competition but me.
And then we heard the plane had landed. The Las Vegas girls had arrived.
My mouth about fell open when they walked in. They looked and acted like they were 10 years older than me, so sophisticated. They had it all down . . . the make-up, the hair. The walk. And the dresses! Oh my goodness, some of their dresses were so big they had to pack them in trunks. They were pageant dresses, the real deal, not at all like mine. At that moment I was glad I didn't know or have to talk to anyone because I was speechless.
They put us into host homes and I was assigned to a very successful host family with a beautiful home in the prettiest part of town. (I didn't know anyone who lived in this neck of the woods and the only other house I'd ever seen that was as nice as this was Alleta's.) My little room was so clean. All-white. Divine. There were twin beds and I shared my space with another girl in the pageant.
When we settled in and unpacked, my roommate slipped out so I called my mom on the hard line in the bedroom. I cried. I told her about the beautiful Vegas dresses and wondered if we could come up with a store-bought gown. My mom felt horrible and said we just couldn't afford it, but to "use your personality" and "play that piano . . . like you always do and you'll do just fine." To this day I still remember her words.
It was a three-day event at John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks. Right away, we were learning routines and they scheduled us for interviews with the five judges. If I remember correctly, there were 48 girls in the competition. My interview was scheduled for the last day. I would be number 47, second to last. They'd be exhausted.
Surprisingly, my interview actually went just great. They were easy to talk to and seemed to really like me. I was only stumped by one current event question about a third-world country. In that time of my life I didn't keep up with the news. (Ask me today and I would know). But, I made up something funny and they all laughed. (I guess I can be funny sometimes).
The divisions were Poise and Appearance, Physical Fitness, Scholastic Achievement, Talent, and Congeniality (the interview). I knew I wouldn't win any of the divisions except maybe Talent (please God). I had my eye and my fingers crossed on that one.
The pageant night arrived and I had made the finals for Talent, so I'd perform. It went well.
We did the Physical Fitness routine, the Poise and Appearance walk-around (in my simple pink dress) and now it was time for the awards . . . the moment we had all been waiting for. The Master of Ceremonies started in . . .
The Physical Fitness award goes to . . . .
I didn't win.
Poise and Appearance goes to . . . .
I didn't win.
Scholastic Achievement goes to . . . .
I didn't win.
And the Talent goes to . . . .
I didn't win. Did you hear me? I didn't win.
At this point, I saw my entire family in the upper balcony (cheaper seats) get up and start to put their coats on. It was Saturday night, we had church in the morning. I literally saw the back of their heads as they were walking out.
Oh wait! There's more! My mom and dad turned and sat down and insisted everyone else do the same. The Master of Ceremonies continued.
Third runner up goes to . . .
I didn't win.
Second runner up goes to . . . .
I didn't win.
First runner up goes to . . . .
I didn't win. The family is back up again. Coats back on.
And the 1976 winner of Nevada's Junior Miss is . . . .
That's me. Is that me? Yes, that's me. I couldn't move. Really? I won? Now what do I do? Walk Lorie. Walk forward.
I never . . . ever . . . for a second thought I'd win. What's even more, I never ever thought about the implications of winning and what Nevada's Junior Miss might mean, what it would bring to me and the new journey I'd instantly be on. That night I received a $1000 scholarship to the college of my choice. It was the first time I ever even thought about college and that I might be able to afford to go. College of my choice? Yes, it was a big moment for me.
A new wardrobe, numerous gifts, jewelry and cosmetics . . . plus an all-expense-paid trip to Mobile, Alabama was coming my way. Not to mention, a real pageant gown.
Now I had a new dream. I would be preparing for America's Junior Miss.
Maybe I just might be able to win the Talent division.
(to be continued in April's blog)
Photo above - this is the pink dress my mom made with the ostrich feathers. She recently told me it cost $7.50 to make it. She was my first couturier and I am forever grateful.
On a personal note, my bedroom today is all-white. Divine.
I bought Tim a Fit Bit for Christmas. If you're not familiar with this, it is a fitness band you wear that measures everything from your number of steps to good solid sleep. I think I really surprised him as he didn't ask for one, expect or even hope for this little gadget . . . wasn't even on his radar. It was fun to see him open it and have to think about how he'd use it.
Tim is the most "hip" and "fit" 55-year old I've ever seen. Surprisingly, he never works out, just gardens (in the spring, summer and fall), and off-loads and on-loads my piano and all our gear when we tour (16-hour days).
As many of you know, I am out on my very first solo piano tour. It has been so nice getting out of the below-zero Minnesota winter weather. It's also thrilling to see some of my southern fans whom I only get to entertain about every four years.
Touring is extremely expensive. A tour bus with driver costs about $1000 a day, then there is the driver's hotel room, his per diem, diesel gas (200 gallons) for the bus (thank God for low gas prices right now), venue rental, daily piano tunings, water to keep everyone hydrated, groceries and two to three meals a day for everyone. We also pay lobby sales commissions in some venues on our CDs and music books (10 - 20% in most cases) and permit fees to park in various towns. Big downtown cities often require union labor and that typically triples our costs for the day. And then of course . . . ahhhhhh, taxes.
It's crazy . . . and scary.
This year, we knew if we were going to do this tour, because I'd be playing to smaller audiences, we would have to be extremely efficient. We'd eliminate a truck which normally carries our gear and the expense of another driver. Instead, we'd hook up a trailer to the back of our bus. Next, we'd have to do everything by ourselves . . . no crew . . . and with the help of only one person . . . my faithful assistant Michele. She would help us load in all day and in the evening she'd sell tickets and merchandise in the lobby. She also volunteered to learn how to run the lights during the show. Michele is creative, quick and smart.
Before we left, Tim spent the month of January with my studio engineer, learning how to run the sound. He was nervous, but felt he could do it. They pre-programed many of the settings for a smaller venue and a smaller audience. He would "tune" the room every day.
My job would be easy. I would design a simple but elegant set and be responsible for placing it nightly. I'd also design my costumes.
So, "The Three Musketeers" would unload, set up and tear everything down that you see in the photo above (which is a shot of the back of our trailer that we pull behind the bus) every day.
Plus . . . oh, I almost forgot . . . do a two-hour show.
The most difficult part of our day is off-loading the piano and getting it to the stage. And then the reverse . . . getting it off the stage and back into the trailer at the end of the night. Because there are just three of us, we are always looking for brave volunteers to help us pull it out of the trailer, push it inside the venue, and then most days up a ramp (which we carry) and to the middle of the stage. Not only is Michele smart, but she is pretty too, so she uses her wide smile to go and find big guys who might be of help. Can you imagine? It is the funniest thing. She walks down the street and says, "Sir, can you come and help us move a piano?" She doesn't dare tell them it is a nine-foot concert grand that weighs 1450 pounds. We crack up every day about this. Many nights we hit the bunks barrel-laughing about that part of our day.
The piano travels in a custom case that will go through any man-size door. It's pretty amazing. It travels on its side. After we find two volunteers, we move it in its case to the stage. From here, the whole front of the case is removed and while the piano is still on its side, Tim puts the lyre and two front legs on. With leverage, the five of us pull it down out of the case to rest on the two legs. Tim then moves to the back side and with one fairly easy pull-up, we set it in its perfect place. Tim now sits and puts the third leg on and we are now ready to move it to the center stage. We roll the custom travel case (now empty) down the ramp and out of site for the show.
We make it look easy. And after Michele's two brave men leave they always say, "that wasn't bad at all."
My piano has been on over 2000 stages. It is probably 22 years old now. In the old days I would have to play anything and everything. It was horrible and every night I was miserable. Then, one year we asked Yamaha if they had a piano in the Minneapolis area we could borrow for a tour. There was one available at The Ordway in St. Paul. They loaned it to us . . . and we never gave it back. I couldn't give it up. It was the finest piano I had ever played. Well, it was perfect timing because I became an endorsed Yamaha pianist. And they sold it to me at cost. One of my tuners originally gave the piano a name: Sven. Not me. I called him Black Beauty.
Moving Black Beauty requires leverage and strength. A couple of times we have almost had a tragedy. Once, a few years ago, we were pushing it out of the truck down the ramp. It was raining and the ramp was slippery. Tim was on the downside (which carries all the weight). He slipped and fell on his back. The piano was not going to stop. Quick thinking, he stayed on his back and put his feet up on the case and slid down with the piano to the bottom of the ramp. I was inside the venue, setting up the stage, and I heard it. I knew something had happened. His back was scraped up, but because he put his feet up on the case and just slid down and went with it, he survived. Had he put his feet down, the piano would have rolled over him and crushed him.
A couple of nights ago we were (once again) faced with the challenge of moving the piano to the stage. The off-loading back alley was too steep and narrow, and the piano would not turn and fit through the door. After a couple of frustrating hours, we ended up moving not just the piano, but the entire show from the theatre to the front lobby. The Three Musketeers moved the piano two times that day (with a little help), and we set up all individual chairs for our fans for a prompt 7:30 show.
At the end of that day Tim told us we walked over 20,000 steps. Over 10 miles. That was just the walking part. It did not include the physical exertion of pushing and pulling. I don't remember crawling into my bunk that night. But I do remember waking up the next day.
Touring is a very physical job. I know why many musicians just can't and won't do it anymore. It's the fatigue (and hunger) that gets to you. Michele says to me about every other day, "Lorie, your fans have no idea what you do during the day. They think you just walk out onto the stage every night looking all pretty and glamorous . . . waaalaaa." Not true.
For me, walking out onto the stage is the best part of my day. We have arrived.
Tim and I want to personally thank all of you who have come out to see me on this solo piano tour. You don't know how much we appreciate having a good audience after working all day to get to your city and set up a show. We love having loyal fans . . . who have now become our lifelong friends too. You make it so joyful . . . and oh . . . oh, so worthwhile.
The gear in the back of the trailer pictured above weighed in at the truck station at 9,000 pounds. The Three Musketeers will move it 24 times for a total of 216,000 pounds.
Last night we drove 520 miles to get to the next city.
We walked 18,000 steps today. About 9 miles. It was a good day.
Michele has worked for me as my personal touring assistant for 7 years. She is from Iowa.
Pictured below is Tim, Lorie and Michele. This is our typical day of moving the piano.
For tickets to my upcoming show http://www.lorieline.com/tour.php. If you want to be one of the two volunteers to help tip and load the piano, we'd love the help!
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