Some of the most famous singers and musicians hail from Minnesota. From The Andrews Sisters to Prince, the best are honored with a spot in the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame. Located in a former public library building, the Hall of Fame calls New Ulm home.
Walking through the Hall of Fame, you’re reminded of how many great talents have called Minnesota home. Bob Dylan, from Duluth, has a special place in our family’s heart, as he was a friend of my brother John. A niece once told me that John was always excited when he and his band opened for Dylan in concert. Even celebrities have their idols.
Prince was a Twin Cities native, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 57. The pop star enjoyed superstar status among his fans and locals. Prince experienced success for more than three decades. His albums were immediate hits. He won several awards, including the Grammy and American Music. He was a regular at First Avenue, a club in downtown Minneapolis. Prince was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.
The Minnesota Music Hall of Fame uses memorabilia and photographs to tell the honorees’ stories. Grand Rapids’ Judy Garland, known best for her role as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” enjoyed a wonderful career in Hollywood as an actress and singer. Garland appeared in about 40 movies, including “Meet Me in St. Louis” and “A Star is Born,” as well as on more than 140 soundtracks, according to IMDB.com. Before her Hollywood success, she was part of the Gumm Sisters act (her real name was Frances Gumm). The trio performed in Minnesota and then toured the country.
Eddie Cochran was born in Albert Lea. He scored early with the rock and roll hit “Summertime Blues.” He died at the age of 21 in a car accident during a tour in England.
Of course, the Music Hall of Fame has its big-name celebrities. But, it’s also home to acts known statewide for their longevity and success. Whoopee Joe was born in New Ulm, so imagine the city’s excitement of having one of its own inducted into the Hall of Fame. The polka band leader eventually moved his act to the Twin Cities, where his band performed on stage, as well as on radio programs. John Wilfahrt – Whoopee John’s real name – died from a heart attack at the age of 68.
Whoopee John and his band are among several polka and Big Band groups honored by the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame. Among them are the Wee Willie Band and Guy DeLeo and his Orchestra. DeLeo’s band performed during the Big Band era of the 1930s to 1050s. DeLeo, a New Ulm resident, led his band for more than 50 years.
Pianist Lori Line, who hails from the Twin Cities, joined the Hall of Fame in 2010. She has recorded about 50 albums and toured the nation. Line donated some of her stage outfits to the Hall of Fame.
Recent inductees included the late John Denver, who lived in Edina in the late 1960s and early ‘70s. His first wife was a Minnesotan.
We enjoyed visiting the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame and encourage you to visit when in the New Ulm area. I believe the Hall of Fame may have outgrown its current location, as it has several displays that could be better served in a larger facility. Regardless, it is a nice spot to learn about Minnesota’s music history.
For more information on the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, please visit www.mnmusichalloffame.org.
Disclaimer: Thank you to Visit New Ulm for the complimentary admission tickets. However, all opinions and views are ours.