By: Nikki Stibal
Flashing red lights call out on the bright sunny Sunday afternoon of November 7th broadcasting the phrase â€œKeep a Song in Your Heart- Lawrence Welkâ€. People from all around flocked in their Sunday best towards the Ramada Plaza Suites Ballroom for the long awaited Lawrence Welk Gala hosted by the Fargo Moorhead Jazz Arts Ensemble.
The event, which had a surprisingly well turnout, consisted of a 26 song set list from the Lawrence Welk Show preformed by the Jazz Arts Ensemble accompanied by various performers from the community including professors like Dr. David Ferreira from Concordia College and Dr. Kyle Mack from NDSU. The gala itself was put on to honor the life and achievements of a man who affected so many people.
Welk was born in Strasburg North Dakota in 1903. At the age of 21 he decided to pursue music as a career and left the family farm behind. He preformed with a couple various bands until he finally formed his own orchestra. Over time the orchestra toured and became widely known. This led to the ABC network giving Welk his own show.
The Lawrence Welk Show started out airing locally in 1951 and five years later was broadcast nationally. The program was a musical variety show that featured big band music. The show aired from 1951 to 1982 and has over a thousand episodes. The show itself became a staple of American culture and many were sad when Welk retired from the show in the early 80s.
Welk lived a successful life; being a pop culture icon, happily married and had a thriving family and business. Welk died in 1992 at the age of 89 from pneumonia. His family along with the FM Jazz Arts, threw this gala in his memory.
Those who came were treated to some of his greatest hits while being able to see some of his old memorabilia including his accordion, played by former first lady of North Dakota Nancy Jones Schafer, and his iconic baton that he directed all of his shows with.
Happy nostalgia set over the crowd and they enjoyed the afternoon, honoring things both present and past all in the name of a man who helped shape the American society and taught us all to keep a song in our hearts.
The Jazz Arts Ensemble is putting on other events later this year starting in late January. For more information check out www.JazzArtsFM.com