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Singer-songwriter Ann Reed to glean Minnesota sesquicentennial song ideas

BEMIDJI Devotees of "Hail Minnesota" need not fear. Ann Reed's "Song for Minnesota," when it is ready for release in May, won't bump the official state song from the place it has held since 1905.

BEMIDJI Devotees of "Hail Minnesota" need not fear. Ann Reed's "Song for Minnesota," when it is ready for release in May, won't bump the official state song from the place it has held since 1905.

But for the Minnesota Sesquicentennial, a fresh song is appropriate, and Reed is gathering ideas to create it. She will arrive in Bemidji for a concert, part of the MPR Troubadour tour, at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Chief Theatre, 314 Beltrami Ave. N.W. She will be accompanied by guest pianist Dan Chouinard.

Tickets cost $15 for general admission and $13 for Minnesota Public Radio members. For ticket information, call (218) 751-8864.

Singer/songwriter Reed is currently touring the state asking audiences for themes relating to their areas and thoughts about their state. Anyone can offer suggestions at minnesota.publicradio.org , and there will be a microphone set up at Thursday's concert for audience input. Reed said she would also welcome written suggestions from those too shy to speak publicly. However, she said she has more than enough suggestions for rhymes for Minnesota.

"We decided not to ask them that any more," she said in a telephone interview. Reed has earned a reputation for writing Minnesota State Fair songs from audience suggestions when Dale Connelly and Jim Ed Poole broadcast the "Morning Show" from the MPR booth at the corner of Judson and Nelson on the State Fair grounds. She works up those songs, often featuring Pronto Pups, in less than three hours.

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"I'm getting a lot of time with this one," she said. "I haven't technically started the song, just noodling with some melody ideas."

She said she is also reading through ideas posted on the Web site and offered at the concerts. She has performed in Duluth (where someone reminded her to put Paul and Babe "the ox of color" into "Song for Minnesota"), Morris and St. Joseph. Her concert in Bemidji will open the second half of Reed's tour, which concludes with a March 8 performance in Winona and the premiere of the sesquicentennial song on May 3 in the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.

Reed has lived in Minnesota all her life, growing up in a Minneapolis suburb and attending Bemidji State University in 1973-74.

"I majored in absolutely nothing," she said. "It was before Bemidji got big."

According to her Web site, annreed.com , her musical career started when she was 12 and borrowed her brother's guitar. (He'd bought it with $40 their grandmother had given him to buy a suit.) Reed taught herself to play and has since produced 15 albums and played countless concerts around the world.

Reed has been honored with accolades from Billboard magazine, the National Association of Independent Recording Distributors, the Minnesota Music Academy and the Girl Scouts as she combines her musical talents with community involvement. She donates about 25 percent of her time to the support of nonprofit groups that primarily benefit women and children.

Thursday concert is sponsored by MPR and the Paul Bunyan Playhouse and is underwritten by First National Bank Bemidji.

The Bemidji Pioneer and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

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