Answer is blowin' in the wind: ND songwriter returns for music business seminar
When booking entertainment for the North Dakota Dollars for Scholars banquet, Deb Gebeke got more than she bargained for. The executive director of Dollars for Scholars, which helps communities establish and improve scholarship programs for post-...
When booking entertainment for the North Dakota Dollars for Scholars banquet, Deb Gebeke got more than she bargained for.
The executive director of Dollars for Scholars, which helps communities establish and improve scholarship programs for post-secondary education, tapped country/folk singer Celeste Krenz to perform Friday night. A few days later, Krenz called back suggesting an additional music seminar to help regional artists get their songs heard.
Krenz leads a Careers in Music Business conference Saturday at the Fargo Theatre.
A native of the Williston, N.D., area, Krenz knows there isn't much music industry infrastructure in the Midwest.
"If I would've had something like this when I was 18, I would've been 10 years ahead, figuring out how to make my dream of making music happen sooner," says the 39-year-old songwriter. "There was no network for me to find those people back then."
After playing around the region for years, the singer/guitarist moved to Denver in 1990. Two years ago she moved to Nashville, Tenn., with her husband and 4-year-old son.
The seminar is designed to educate attendees on different aspects of the music industry and includes a range of panelists.
Victoria Shaw, who penned hits for Garth Brooks ("The River") and Christina Aguilera and Ricky Martin ("Nobody Wants to be Lonely"), discusses songwriting and offers critiques.
Recording engineer Greg Dorschel offers songwriting tips and suggestions on marketing songs while Kari Estrin talks about publicity and Bob Taylor addresses the importance of production.
"I just really wanted to share what I've learned in the last 20 years of playing music with everybody out there who wants to know," Krenz says.
Gebeke says the seminar is the first of its kind for Dollars for Scholars.
"This is a unique opportunity to encourage and support local artists," Gebeke says, adding that she expects about 50 registrants. "I think the seminar will give people one-on-one attention. There aren't very often opportunities like this."
After the seminar, panelists will give a public concert. Willing entrants are encouraged to take the stage for a song or two for what Krenz calls a "North Dakota talent show" and likens to an old radio program.
The singer had a hand, or rather a song, in one of America's favorite on-air shows, "Prairie Home Companion," in December 2001 when her friend and former neighbor Mollie O'Brien sang "Dakota Wind" in a broadcast from the Chester Fritz Auditorium in Grand Forks.
Though she's not a household name, and is better known in western North Dakota than in the Red River Valley, Krenz is happy with her career. After years on the road, she enjoys being more selective with her schedule, averaging 60 concerts a year.
Krenz was close to signing a deal with the country label Curb Records (LeAnn Rimes, Tim McGraw and Wynonna), but at the last minute opted to sign with the smaller folk label Blix Street, home to the late Eva Cassidy.
"Part of me regrets that I didn't sign the big deal," she says. "That's maybe one day a year, maybe when I watch the CMA awards I think 'Oh, I should've had one of those.' "
Though it's easier for budding musicians to record and release their own material ("There's never too many good songs" Krenz says), she feels too many young artists push out work before it's ready for audiences.
"If you don't have a good producer and you don't have good musicians and you haven't worked on your songwriting, you could put out a pretty bad thing that sounds great," says the veteran.
Krenz has recorded seven records including this spring's release of "Beautiful Soup."
"I don't make a huge income and I don't drive fancy cars and my life isn't extremely glamorous like the big music business everybody thinks of," Krenz says. "I am really happy and I wake up every day and I do things I want to do and to me that's what life should be about instead of, 'Oh, I need a big house, a fancy car, this, this and this.' This is the journey, this is every day, this is what we get."
Readers can reach reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533
If you go
What: Careers in Music Business with Celeste Krenz
When: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Fargo Theatre
Cost: $100 to $125. To register, call (701) 347-0051. A concert follows at 7:30 p.m. with a $10 ticket. (701) 239-8385
Online: Hear a portion of Celeste Krenz's interview, as well as clips of three of her songs in the Valley R&R section of www.