Pioneer flute player in Fargo who broke barriers for women in local bands still playing

There was a time when the Elks, Shrine and Legion or Veterans bands wouldn't let women play. Then came Em Laskey of Fargo. She is the first woman in the veterans band, and she's still playing.

PKG.Still001 (2).png
Em Laskey, 92 of Fargo, plays with the Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band at Bonanzaville on Thursday night. Em was the first woman allowed into the band 45-years ago. She was also the first woman allowed in the Elks, Legion and Shrine Circus bands here in Fargo.
Ryan Longnecker / WDAY News

FARGO — At Bonanzaville's Veteran Appreciation night on Thursday, May 25, Em Laskey and her flute joined her Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band in preparation for a night of memorable music.

One of the first songs was the theme from the TV show "Hogan's Heroes."

Em Laskey's story in this band started close to 45 years ago, when no women were allowed to play.

"(It was) a little scary at first," Laskey said. "Some were happy to see me, some were not."

Laskey and her flute broke the rules, as well as barriers.


"I like to do that," she laughed. "I was the first one in the Elks band, the Legion band, and the first one in the Shrine Circus band."

Decades later, she keeps up with them all. And why not? She's only 92.

Laskey still plays in two bands in town. It's in her blood.

"I just love to play music, no matter what it is. I love to be with the people, it's like a vacation. Every time I go to rehearsal, it is something special," Laskey said.

You can catch EM Laskey playing an impressive "Stars and Stripes" when the Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band plays at the Fargo VA Health Care System at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 1.

The band is also performing at three venues on Memorial Day in Fargo-Moorhead:

  • Fargo Riverside at 11 a.m.
  • Moorhead Legion at Noon.
  • Fargo National Cemetery at 2:30 p.m.
Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

Contact Email:
Phone Number: (701) 241-5317
What To Read Next
Get Local