Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Christine Rosholt, remembered with music and tears

Tanner Taylor
Christine would have loved it. The Dakota was SRO, those without reservations (at least a hundred, maybe more) being turned away and told to come back at 9:30 (many did).

Musicians and singers were everywhere—on stage, at tables, gathered outside the Green Room and at the bar.

Club owner Lowell Pickett flew back early from the annual APAP conference in NYC, skipping the NEA Jazz Masters program in the Rose Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

So did pianist/composer George Maurer. I’ve never seen Scott Seekins at the Dakota; he was there, too.

We came to remember and honor singer Christine Rosholt, who died at the end of December, a week before her birthday, a victim of depression. (As was Susannah McCorkle.)


Emceed by Maryann Sullivan, the evening began with a moment of silence and a few words from Christine’s father. Then the “Christine Rosholt Band”—Tanner Taylor and later Chris Lomheim on piano, Graydon Peterson on bass, Vinnie Rose on guitar, Dave Karr and Doug Haining on saxophone, Dave Jensen on trumpet, Mac Santiago alternating with Jay Epstein on drums—played and played for a parade of singers: Nichola Miller, newlywed Rachel Holder Hennig, Katie Gearty, Arne Fogel, Sophia Shorai, Patty Peterson, Rhonda Laurie, Paula Lammers, Lawrence Hutera, Tresa Sauer, Maryann Sullivan, Vicky Mountain.

Kevin Hall, whom Christine always called “Kevin Hall from London!” (complete with exclamation point), flew in to perform songs from Pazz, his CD with Christine. He last performed at the Dakota at the official CD release on December 1. It must have been terribly difficult for him to return under these circumstances. He shared the most stories about Christine.

L to R: Katie Gearty, Vinnie Rose, Graydon Peterson
A third set, a jam session, brought Maurer, J.D. Steele, and Debbie Duncan to the stage. Scott Fultz, Zacc Harris, Dorothy Doring, Lee Engele, Connie Olson, Ginger Commodore, Lila Ammons, and Connie Evingson were in the house, as were Larry Englund from KFAI, Michele Jansen from KBEM, and many people from MinnPost, where Christine had become a member of the family.

It was an evening full of emotion, in the crowd and on the stage. The performances were generous and heartfelt. It’s hard to sing when your eyes are filling and your throat is tightening, but that’s what you do. All of the singers gave their best, but three stood out for me. Katie Gearty, whose father died unexpectedly the same day as Christine, must have summoned heroic reserves to make it through the night. Patty Peterson, who nearly died in 2007 from an aortic aneurysm and ever since has championed life and love, sang “The Last Goodbye,” the now-prophetic final track from Pazz, and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Both were brave performances, and searingly honest. And Sophia Shorai gave an aching and luminous reading of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile,” after which she turned, quickly left the stage through the curtain, and burst into tears.

Sophia Shorai
If Christine had known how many people cared for her, and respected her, and thoroughly enjoyed her performances, would that have made a difference? According to those who know about depression, how pitiless and painful it is, probably not. In the awful wake of her death, littered with if-onlys, what-ifs, and grief, we can, as Patty suggested, love each other more. We can, as Maryann said a week or so ago, be more willing to reach out to a troubled friend or acquaintance.

We can also celebrate the living, people we love who are still with us, whose work and example have shaped our music scene. What about a tribute to Irv Williams? To Marv Dahlgren who, at age 87, will lead a worldwide “Hunger Beat Down” this Saturday? At 80, saxophonist Dave Karr has his own tribute band, playing the music of Gerry Mulligan. As I watched him last night at the Dakota and recalled times I’d seen him with Christine, I thought—let’s throw a party for Dave.

Related: StarTribune columnist Gail Rosenblum has written a lovely piece about Christine.
Photos by John Whiting.

Kevin Hall


5 comments:

  1. Great piece, Pamela. I didn't know Christine, but you have my sympathies for what clearly is a big loss for many people in the Twin Cities music community.

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  2. Nice account of a lovely evening. It was a wonderful tribute. I'm glad I was there.

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  3. Wow. I could not agree more with the author's favorites. I verbalized that last night when they were singing. I would have included Rachel Holder's first song, too. The title escapes me but not the feeling.

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  4. What caused her death???

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    1. I don't believe her family ever released an official statement, but it was reported that Christine suffered from depression and took her own life.

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