Page through a copy of the Lorie Line Music Collection, and you'll find all the requisite items for Line lovers: CDs, sheet music collections, concert videos and ... holiday ornaments?
Growing up with four siblings in Reno, Nev., Line was the only one who stuck with music lessons. Her status as one of today's most well-known pianists is simply the result of knowing what she wanted to do with her life and pursuing it.
But she never planned to become a one-woman industry. Her elaborate Christmas shows are so beloved, particularly in the Midwest, that she's starting to rival Santa and Rudolph as a holiday icon.
"It gradually came from name recognition," Line said about the ornaments in a recent phone interview from Wayzata, her home for 17 years and the home base of Lorie Line Music, Inc. "You have to be willing to learn it all."
Many musicians frown on the business aspect of the industry, labeling any attempt to gain a wider audience as selling out. But Line takes such a personal approach to marketing herself that you can hardly begrudge her success. She spends a typical day at the office answering e-mails from fans and sending out mailers, all the while dreaming up new ideas for her elaborate stage shows.
"I've had young musicians come up to me and say, 'I want to be a musician, but I don't want to deal with the business part of it,'" Line said. "I say, 'Well, you're never going to make it.' There's so much going on and you've gotta be in touch with it all."
Line caught a Roger Williams show at age 7. She was blown away not by Williams, but by the opening act: The Osmond Brothers.
If you go
Who: Lorie Line & her Pop Chamber Orchestra
When: 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Tornstrom Auditorium, Washington Middle School, Brainerd
Tickets: $28 and $38, available at www.ticketworks.com, 1-888-765-0966
"That was the first time I saw show business at its best," Line said.
Line now has been doing her own stage show for 14 years, re-arranging classic songs with her Pop Chamber Orchestra and writing original material. Line and her orchestra recently launched a summer tour that will stop in Brainerd for shows at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Tornstrom Auditorium at Washington Middle School.
It marks Line's third stop in Brainerd. She enjoys the atmosphere of smaller auditoriums.
"When we do this Broadway style show in a high school auditorium of a smaller town, we can feel the warmth and appreciation from the audience," Line said. "We play closer to the audience and we feel the energy in a different way, more like a living room setting."
Despite the cozy setting, the show won't be scaled down much from the arena setup. It will include hundreds of costumes and lights and the backing of the orchestra, which includes Line's husband, Tim (who plays Uncle Sam and other roles), and gospel singer Robert Robinson, whose crooning is praised in almost every review.
While it may be tempting to call Line a pioneer among female concert pianists, that label would be more appropriate for Line's grandmother, who formed her own band in Ohio in the 1930s.
Ruth Wales' Merry Men played in department stores (as did Line, early in her career) and sold sheet music (Line is currently compiling sheet music for "Music From the Heart," her collection of classic movie ballads). Wales didn't arrange or write the tunes, but her picture was on the sheet music because she was the name brand.
Apparently the fact that her granddaughter's name is etched on Christmas ornaments is simply the evolution of music marketing.
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