I started to think about writing this blog upon hearing that Bill and Melinda Gates were divorcing after 27 years. Initially I was in disbelief. How could one of the richest and most powerful and successful couples in the whole world be so unhappy that they would end a perfectly good marriage? But almost 30 years into it (a significant investment of time), they were calling it "quits."
What was the problem? They certainly did not have the typical stress that we all go through day-to-day. They had it all . . . yachts, planes (jets), fancy cars, fancy clothes, drivers, cooks, multiple houses, elaborate vacations, gardeners, housekeepers, money managers, personal assistants, legal teams, accountants, three beautiful children (who went to the finest schools of their choice) and friends in high places (including Presidents!). They had their health. How could they wake up one day and look at each other and say "this is not enough. I want something more. I want something different." They had absolutely EVERYTHING!
Everything . . . everything but the secret ingredient.
Some of my closer friends have asked me over the years to share my "tips" on having a happy marriage. They look at Tim and me and say "we want that!" I want to confess that not every day in our 35-year marriage has been happy.
Like most couples, we have been through a lot. We work closely together every day (our desks are right next to each other . . . or we are on a tour bus) and we have built a fabulous business with fabulous fans that we love. Some years have been wonderful and other years heartbreaking. We've raised two adopted children. Some of those days have been so joyful and full of pride, glorious and happy, other days the saddest in our life. Like all of you, we deal with family dynamics and some days we are encouraged . . . other days discouraged.
But I must say, it has been the hard years and hard times that made us start looking for the secret ingredient. We didn't know specifically what it was, we just knew there was something more out there and we had to have it.
We eventually found it.
One day, after looking for years and years, it just came to us. And the interesting part of our story is that it came to both of us at the exact same moment in our life. BAM! We figured it out!
I honestly don't think we said anything to each other about it. We just knew.
The secret ingredient . . . was Jesus.
Now, if someone had told me this 15 or 20 years ago, I would have been "too cool" for this supernatural revelation. The "Jesus lover" Christian was just a bit too much for me, too pushy, too "goody two-shoes" for both Tim and me. Preachy people like this just made me uncomfortable. I ran from them. (They were the kind of Christians that you avoided at church. Ha!) After all, I had it all figured out by myself, right?
Now you can be "happily" married, go to church three times a week, have a good job and pay your bills on time, pray at the dinner table with your children . . . and still not have the secret sauce in your life. There's much more to it than just talking a good talk, walking a good walk and merely going through the motions.
So how do you know if you've found the secret ingredient? How do you know that you've really found Jesus? Let me just say, trust me, you'll know. Because it's all you think about. It's on your heart non-stop, 24 hours a day. There is a slight lump in your throat all the time. Because you've finally found Him.
And you'll never let Him go.
May you and the one you love be encouraged to find the everlasting love of Jesus Christ.
The secret ingredient for true happiness. In all things.
Grab His hand and never let it go.
THE STATE OF MINNEAPOLIS/Winter Blog 2021
After I met Tim on that fateful airplane flight and he asked me to marry him, the most exciting thing (other than being married to him) was the fact that we were moving to Minneapolis. I'd always lived in Reno, a small town, and honestly I was scared to death, but moving with someone like Tim gave me some comfort and confidence that I would be ok.
When we'd tell people we were moving to Minneapolis, they'd share in the joy and excitement. People who had been to this city before were giddy when they talked about the grocery stores with chandeliers and carpet. (I think this is what people mentioned first!) Then, everyone said it was a very clean and safe downtown . . . they described it as a mini-New York, very cosmopolitan in feel, with great food and restaurants. There was a description of these "skyways" and I tried to visualize how that might work. Most people always mentioned there was "great shopping" and an amazing department store called Dayton's. It had beautiful store-front windows, an 8th floor auditorium with theme displays, also a wonderful top floor restaurant, a fabulous trim-the-tree shop at Christmastime, a tunnel underneath with a food court, and a main floor cosmetic area with red carpet and beautiful women spraying perfume on you in every aisle. Most importantly, there was a special women's area called The Oval Room, and everyone said it was a MUST, that it had the best designer clothes in the midwest. Sure, it was cold, but you learned how to dress for it, get around (in the skyways), and you would have to have a car that was good in the snow. I'd never heard of a snow parade, but sure enough, it was called The Holidazzle Parade, and it was a winter tradition, not to miss (who would ever imagine I'd be the snow queen/grand master one day!?). The music scene was fabulous and the two orchestras were the finest in the country. And the State Fair? Ha! I couldn't even picture it.
I was excited. I couldn't wait to take in all these amazing things.
The wonderful city of Minneapolis.
A city I would love.
Sure enough, Minneapolis did not disappoint. Tim and I made our way to see EVERYTHING and experience it all. What a wonderful, wonderful place. For probably 25 years, everything was "golden." (We've lived here 34 years.)
Today . . . I am saddened to say that Minneapolis has changed and it is not the place it used to be. Some places you would not even recognize. With all the riots, over 300 neighborhood businesses have been burned to the ground (almost a year ago). Damages are estimated at $500 million dollars and there is still no plan to help rebuild these small businesses. With the lockdown order in affect for a year now, over 100 restaurants have permanently closed (many of them were our favorites . . . Vincent's, Goodfellows, Lucia's to name a few). There are no longer any beautiful downtown stores . . . over the years Neiman Marcus closed, SAKS FIFTH AVENUE closed, and Dayton's became a Macy's, which became an office space . . . which to this day I do not think has a single tenant. And our downtown (week-long) Lorie Line Christmas show was moved out to many of the surrounding suburbs.
Downtown used to be so fun. It was such a happening place! What Minneapolis used to be is now just a memory, a great memory.
And it is hard to know what to do.
Many people are moving . . . to Florida, Texas and Tennessee (we just updated our data base and there were over 3000 changes of addresses). So, in January Tim and I got in our car and drove to Florida. We took three weeks to think about where we might want to live. Our first stop was in Nashville. We just so happened to be there on a Sunday so we popped into Brentwood Baptist Church. I knew since we were in Nashville the music would be good, but wow, I don't think I've ever heard anything like this before. (I am still singing "Graves Into Gardens"). We then headed (for fun) down to Laurel, Mississippi where the famous HGTV HOME TOWN show is filmed with Ben and Erin. (We had a ball stopping in their stores and Ben's shop.) Laurel is charming . . . but probably not a hot bed for a musician like me. So, onward we drove to Florida (where we have spent quite a bit of time touring). Our best meal was in Tampa. The weather was mid-70's all week. No rain. Spectacular. We then went to Sarasota where our son now lives, then to Orlando to celebrate Tim's mother's 80th birthday. We saw it all. It was such a nice break.
But not a break-through for us.
I'm not sure why. I guess it's because Minnesota means so much to me . . . it's where I got my start, established my name, my career. Tim and I first started our marriage here (day one) and the memories of raising two children will forever be . . . Minnesota.
In the three weeks, we drove 4000 miles. We were so excited to drive back home that we made the trip in just two days. (Vacations make you love leaving, and love coming back.)
Snow was on the ground and everything was so beautiful when we arrived and drove into our driveway.
The first thing we did was shovel. The second thing we did was go to Costco to stock our empty refrigerator. I did not mind either task . . . in fact the older I get, the more I love the four seasons of Minnesota (I can't believe I am saying this) and my favorite place to shop is Costco (I can't believe I am saying this).
So . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I guess we aren't moving anywhere for now. I love my farmer and rancher fans in this part of the world who come to see me every year. And all my piano-playing friends. I love opening my home for The Living Room Series and entertaining fans who love me. I love my schedule, my employees and the musicians I work with, I love my church, my friends, my gardens, living and boating on Lake Minnetonka, and yes, the four seasons.
And even shoveling.
As we approach the upcoming George Floyd trials in our city (March 8th), please pray that our leaders will make good decisions and keep us safe.
Hopefully we will someday rebuild and revitalize our downtown city once again.
Only He can turn graves into gardens.
The wonderful city of Minneapolis.
A city that I will always love.
Lyrics to Graves Into Gardens
"You turn mourning to dancing. You give beauty for ashes. You turn shame into glory. You're the only one who can.
You turn graves into gardens. You turn bones into armies. You turn seas into highways. You're the only one who can.
Oh, there's nothing better than You, there's nothing better than You, Lord, there's nothing, nothing better than You."
My grandfather was an amazing person.
My first memory of sitting at a table with a white table cloth and a white linen napkin was with him. I was 7 years old and we were eating in downtown Phoenix at the Arizona Club. He was a very successful businessman and was the President of Arizona Sash & Door. He and my grandmother took me everywhere and proudly introduced me. "My granddaughter plays the piano." He had quite the personality. He taught me how to "look people in the eye," and carry on a good conversation. From an early childhood, I remember him teaching me how to respond to a question with a complete sentence. He (and my grandmother) taught me good manners. I was well-behaved and I did not want to ever disappoint him. I wanted to make him proud (until the day he died).
I spent every summer with my grandparents for 10 years, starting at age 7. I'd save my babysitting money, pay one way, and they'd pay my way home. It was my favorite time of year. They paid attention to me. And although I was one of 10 grandchildren, they always made me feel (the most) special. (Today I know they did that for the other nine grandkids as well.) Everyone got a nickname.
He was the kind of person where you never wanted to leave his side. . . because he was going to do something interesting and you didn't want to miss it.
He had a shop out back and my favorite smell to this day is the smell of a shop . . . gasoline, wood, oil, machines, tools, cars, engines. He was always making or fixing something. I'd spend hours standing by his side in that memorable Arizona night heat, talking to him.
My grandfather loved hobbies. He was always doing SOMETHING. If we weren't in the shop, we were in his garden picking melons. Or learning a new hymn at the piano after dinner, singing all the parts. He'd shuck corn, can beets, and if we were just talking around the dining room table, he'd crack walnuts. He (and my grandmother) would speak Spanish (fluently) when he didn't want me to know what he was saying. Actually, I think he was kind of showing off. He was brilliant in every way.
Charlie Mann. He loved his name.
Every day he got dressed up. He wore beautiful clothes and fancy designer shoes (thanks to my grandmother) even though he'd just be at home alone for the day. He'd put on a hat if he went outside (Arizona sun) and I remember that he always wore cologne and something sticky in his thick, curly hair. Before bed, he'd put on his burgandy silk pajamas and crawl into bed and pull out his Bible. My grandmother and I would sit at his bedside and he'd read a beautiful passage of scripture out loud to us. He'd make daily applications from the reading. . . some things which I will always remember. We'd pray, then he'd affectionately hug and kiss me on the cheek goodnight. When I'd leave his room, he'd write in his journal about his day. (I secretly and selfishly always hoped he would write something special about me.) His Bible and his journal sat beside his bed on his nightstand until the day he died.
Like I said, my grandfather was an amazing person. Extraordinary.
Today I look back and with these challenging times before us I now know the secret ingredient in his soul.
He was not afraid.
* * *
In August we toured North Dakota. Although most everything in the country was shut down due to COVID restrictions, we'd been invited to perform in an old opera house in Maddock. A woman named Carol Backstrom called us earlier in the year, and we booked the date. Although everyone in the country was in total fear of the virus, we wanted to go. We were not afraid.
When Carol invited us, she explained that the stage of the opera house was located up on the second floor of the building, and there was no elevator to get my piano up to that area. There were very steep stairs and of course, my 1450 pound piano would never be able to be pulled or pushed up that flight. But, have no fear! They assured me in the beginning that they would figure it out. The whole town was excited to have me, and there were plenty of creative people who would get my piano up to the second floor of this old building.
With so much going on with the COVID situation, I kind of forgot about the upcoming challenge of moving a concert grand piano to a second floor of an old opera house. (It was one of those things where you put it in the back of your mind.) But, apparently, Tim assured me they had it all figured out. All I knew was they had the EXACT measurements of my piano. We were doing it.
When we got there, sure enough, everyone was waiting outside the opera house in the side alley. And, boy did they have the gear . . . a special forklift, a custom built plank just for my piano, and a dozen men all in on the quest of "getting Lorie Line's piano up to the second floor of the opera house." They warmly greeted us, jumped in right away and opened the back of our truck, and started moving the piano out onto the special lift they had built . . . just for me. (Ahh. . . engines, wood, oil, gasoline . . . the smell of the shop.)
These men were like my grandfather. I was in good hands. Never once did I think they'd drop my piano. They had totally prepared for this day. There was something special about them. They were not afraid.
In 15 minutes, they moved the piano up into the air to a small man-size door and basically popped it in to the opera house. It was effortless. At the end of the night my piano went back down (in the dark), the same way it came up.
It was a magical and very memorable day.
That night, before I got into the truck to go back to Minnesota, two of the men (Paul and John) came to me and asked if they could pray for me. They laid their hands on me, and said the most beautiful words I've ever heard . . . for a woman they'd just met that day.
Do you know that "Be Not Afraid" is stated 365 times in the Bible?!! As I get out of bed, it is now my first thought of every day. And as I venture out on a tour that will be the most challenging time of my life, I will think and meditate on these things.
(Isaiah 41:10) Be not afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
You can bet that I will be returning to Maddock, North Dakota. And soon.
Pictured above is one of the earliest photos I have with my grandfather. I was two years old in this photo (1960).
Notice who I'm standing by. (He was probably telling me to stand still and "smile!")
(Pictured left to right . . . my grandfather Charlie Mann, my father Dale, my mother Lorraine, my aunt Lorna, my aunt Loretta, and Frances, my grandmother. In the front Lorie and my brother Chip.) Everyone is still living (all in their 80s) except my grandparents.
My nickname was "Punkin-O".
I think everyone has a least favorite job. Mine would be going to our warehouse.
This is where we keep all of the set pieces, Christmas trees, lighting, sound gear, tree decorations, crosses, Twelve Days of Christmas costumes for the kids, my traveling piano case (it's huge), all of the previously worn band and orchestra costumes and my gowns.
And my music.
When we tour, we always load and unload from the warehouse. It's my least favorite job because we share the space with other tenants and it's dusty, dark and cold inside, and unorganized because it's not just our space. There's nothing pretty about it. Concrete floors. And it always involves heavy lifting, moving, stacking and finding a spot to put things. I do not go to the warehouse unless I absolutely have to.
In March when we got home from our 22-city "Sunshine Tour," we made our regular pit stop to off-load everything from the truck back into this space. (I was so excited. NOT!). But at least we were pulling up during normal day hours. (Typically after the last Christmas show in LaCrosse, we end up off-loading until 2:00 in the morning.)
This time I saw things differently. And simply felt overwhelmed.
All I could see were boxes and boxes (and boxes) of my music. It was a reality that just hit me hard that day. I have sooo much music. I could tour until I was 100 years old, and never be able to sell all of this. It's a shame. All this music is paid for (and has been for years). All my hard work is just sitting here in boxes. What should I do?
I told Tim "we should just give it all away." And then, it came to me. OK, I will practically give it away. Discount it so that people can't resist. Make it affordable so that anyone who wants to play Lorie Line music has the opportunity to do so.
Tim suggested that I run sales and change it up quickly, so that no one would get bored. BAM! Three days and it's a new promotion. Get the fans excited. Make them wonder what's next.
Seeing all of this music in the warehouse, I wanted to take it home. Tim thought there'd be no way to find room to store it, but I convinced him that we should try. It was just so much that we had to really think about reorganizing our own small warehouse space underneath our garage. But both Tim and I were inspired. A new project. And we had no plans until Mother's Day (The Living Room Series). So we had some time. And then this happened.
Three days later the virus hit. Everyone was in lockdown mode all across the country.
And a new theme just popped into my head.
STAY HOME AND PLAY THE PIANO.
And so it began. We sorted and threw out overstocked CD artwork (tens of thousands of inserts . . . I wanted to cry), and made room for all the good stuff to sell. I've never seen Tim so addicted to such a task, but he got up every day and made a trip down the road to get more boxes of music. All of which he brought home to our newly organized personal space.
I made a list of all of the promotions I would put out to my fans. And took a breath when I first saw me write down $15 for a music book. $5 for a CD. We were doing it.
We were going to make lemonade out of lemons.
Twice a week I hopped out of bed at 6:30AM and went down to my computer to e-blast all my fans (all of you) the next latest greatest Lorie Line sale of the century. Many days I filled over 100 individual orders. It did me good to see all of my music going back out that door, back into my trunk and off to the post office to a new home . . . someone who loved playing and listening to Lorie Line. Honestly, it's been a long time since I've had so much fun.
I want to thank all of you for supporting me over the past few months. Thank you, thank you. I know that many of you have been thinking of me and praying for me during these trying times. I want you all to know that we are doing well.
When the great recession came about in 2008, and then the music business crashed in 2012, I promised God I would be a better steward of all that He gave me.
We are now planning the upcoming Christmas tour. Many of the venues that we travel to have different (and complex) restrictions, so I have decided to go out on my own (with a special featured vocalist) for my first solo piano Christmas tour. I've been feeling it's time to reinvent myself again so I am really excited about this. Another chance to make lemonade.
The photo above - Tim made dozens of trips to get all the music home. (I still think I need a little black truck, don't you think?)
Three photos below - I couldn't get all of the music in this shot, but this will give you an idea of where we started (one wall - there were three).
I'm sharing a picture of the newly organized space underneath our garage. And a picture of the entrance into that space.
I now go to my own music warehouse every day, first thing in the morning. It's warm, it's clean, it's organized. And it even has its own chandelier. Gotta love it.
I got a late start.
Most people just assume I started touring in my early 20s, fresh out of college. But that's not the way it happened for me.
And I'm so glad.
I was 31 years old when I went out on my very first tour. I had been working at Dayton's for a year, and we decided to travel to a couple of cities and share my holiday music from the stage. We had pockets of fans around the midwest (I had started a data base), so we gathered up a couple of musicians, and drove in cars together for our first appearance in a few nearby towns.
For the next four years while I was at Dayton's (1988-1993), I'd take a little time off from playing in the store and Tim would take vacation days from Josten's (where he was employed full time). We added a few cities each year to the tour schedule. Little did we know that something so small would become so big.
Two years into it and Tim quit his job (his very good job that supported us . . . and moved us to Minnesota) and he became my tour manager. Overnight we became entrepreneurs with no regular income or paycheck, and boy, were we scared. But early on we decided we would stick together. (I wasn't going to go on the road by myself.) So Tim immediately had a big job in our little company and we went together on every tour. Sometimes it was painful because we had to leave our kids with someone to care for them.
As I mentioned, I'm glad that I got a late start. It was meant to be, a God thing. Had I started earlier, I wouldn't have been ready (or mature enough) and I know now that I probably would have made some very poor decisions. The first bad decision would have been to sign with a label. It was trendy, the "thing" to do, and there were some very popular labels signing artists like me, specifically Windham Hill, Narada, and Sony, to name a few. I had offers from all three, but now well into my 30s, something just didn't feel quite right. (The Holy Spirit was speaking to me . . . and at that time in my life I didn't understand or know the Holy Spirit.) Tim and I made several trips to meet Presidents and Vice Presidents of labels, and one time we ended up in New York City. It was our very first visit and the romance of the city almost persuaded us to sign with Sony that week. But for some reason, we didn't.
Had I signed, I would have been so locked up . . . for years. Disputes, legal arrangements, who gets what, and where I'd go on tour would have all been debatable. (And I probably wouldn't have met you, my fans.) But being my own boss, I was allowed the freedom to go where I wanted, play the music I wanted to play, hire the musicians I loved, and work with Tim (who says I'm unmanageable when people ask him "are you her manager?") We kept it all. One hundred percent. And now, when I look back, I am so glad we made some very good decisions in the early days of my career. It was the secret to our success.
Of course we made some bad decisions too. There are so many things today I would have done differently. Because now I'm in my 60s. But it's all about learning, growing, changing, adapting, recovering, forgiving (both myself and others) . . . all the while being so thankful how far I've come and where I am today.
Yes, each year of touring has been different, challenging in its own way. I estimate that I've traveled over 300,000 miles. And I have lived about 5 years of my life (in the last thirty years) on a tour bus (or in the front cab of a truck). Today I can say that being on the road has truly built character. With each mile, I feel like I have become closer to God. I've traveled a lot of miles. So I'm starting to figure it out.
My new original song for this year's recording is called Holy Is His Name. My favorite character in the Christmas story has always been Mary. In Luke (chapter one), Luke tells the great story of how Mary went to see Elizabeth, her cousin, when she was pregnant. When she arrives, Elizabeth, who is also pregnant with John, adores her and their conversation is simply precious. Elizabeth celebrates her and calls her blessed and then she says, "and how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to (visit) me?" Mary praises and exalts the Lord and says "for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His name."
This is how I feel . . . of course, and certainly my calling has been on a much smaller scale, but . . . how is it that it happened to me, that I might be chosen to share the magnificient story of the Mighty One each and every year with adoring fans, for thirty consecutive years! For the Mighty One has done great things for me.
Holy is His name.
Since I first started touring, each and every year fans have asked me, "how long will you do this?" I have always had the exact same answer. Every year I say the same thing.
Ten more years.
Yes, I have said that now for thirty years. And I will say it once again, and for the next ten years.
Because . . . you see, I believe the best is yet to come.
So . . . I'll see you next year. And you can know that I'm so looking forward to it.
All my love,
The photo at the top was taken three years ago as I went out on my very first solo piano tour (2016). No band. Just me, all by myself. Tim and I put my piano in the back of this Penske truck and drove to Nashville and boarded a tour bus. We then pulled a trailer with my piano in it. Today I love touring solo and I spend many hours in the middle seat in the cab of a truck.
The above photo was taken in my dressing room at Orchestra Hall in probably 1991 (28 years ago). I was 33 years old at the time and I believe my mom introduced me that night. The girls at the cosmetic counter at Dayton's helped me with my makeup (and eventually talked me into growing out my hair and "glamming up.") I purchased the dress from Dayton's Oval Room with my 20% discount. The next year I returned and my very good friend and next door neighbor Cindy Hillger (news anchor at WCCO at the time) introduced me. I have very fond memories specifically of these two years.