Besides loving classical music and the music my parents played on our stereo (Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, and Frank Sinatra), I love pop and rock. I feel so lucky to have grown up in a time of popular music that was so rich in creativity and innovation......the 60's! I loved everything from Jimmy Hendrix to Cream to The Association and of course The Beatles and the Stones. In the 70's, I started really getting into singer-songwriters like James Taylor and Jackson Browne. I started playing acoustic guitar, learned a night's worth of material and got my first gig the summer after I graduated from high school at the Mankato Holiday Inn. I was too shy to say anything between songs, so I just sang and played. I started taking guitar lessons from James McGuire when I was in college. He came to see me at a coffee house and asked me to sing in his band. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world! These were, and still are, top notch players.
I later started a band with some friends from college called "Nobody's Fool" and played clubs around Mankato. The biggest band in town was a band called "City Mouse" and I was eventually asked to join that band. That was my first road experience. I got to travel all over the midwest and loved it! Great players, great music......time for a new dream. I wanted to "make it" as a singer in a band!
Some of the guys in that band and I sort of morphed into what became The Mary Jane Alm Band. We played around the midwest in every town from Bismark to Madison and down through southern Iowa. We tried our wings at other styles of music and did songs by Heart and Pat Benatar alongside songs by Patsy Cline, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris. I never really wanted to do just one kind of music. I just liked great songs, whatever the genre. My favorite music quote comes from Leonard Bernstein, "There are only two kinds of music......good and bad."
My band and I have had, and are still having, a great ride. We have opened shows for countless national acts. We got to record with a great producer/guitar player named Steve Gibson. We recorded in Nashville and did a showcase there and got signed to Warner Brothers (not for very long, but oh well!) We recorded at Paisley Park, Creation, Cookhouse and numerous other great studios in Minneapolis with Tom Tucker, Peter Johnson (who I love writing songs with more than anything!), Scott Malchow and some other big shot from Nashville (I honestly can't remember his name and there's a reason for that!) and most recently, with Grammy award winner, Steve Hodge, who produced, engineered, mixed and mastered my newest record, "Me and the Wild Blue". The Mary Jane Alm Band is; Boyd Lee on acoustic guitar and vocals, Gordy Johnson on bass, Scooter Nelson on percussion and vocals and Brian Peters on guitar and pedal steel. They are the absolute best!!!!
I have done some other things musically as well. I was in an all girl band called Women Who Cook for quite a few years and toured the Soviet Union with them. I did some musical theater at The Chanhassen Dinner Theater and The Ordway Theater and discovered that I am definately a better singer than an actress! It was very fun though! I was in the house band at a big night club called Rupert's. I met some of my best friends doing that gig for three years and sang some things I had never tried before. It was a blast! I still sing with a lot of those players and singers in a band called Synergy. We have traveled all over the world doing huge corporate events and do mostly private gigs. I have done jingles for lots of clients such as Dairy Queen, McDonalds and General Mills. I was even on the "We're Gonna Win Twins" theme song! Peter Johnson and I wrote a jingle for a phone book company and it won a big award. I also got to sing in a production of "The Forest" with David Byrne of The Talking Heads. I was a guest vocalist on a couple of nationally broadcast radio shows, "A Prairie Home Companion" and "Good Evening" with Noah Adams. I was a part of The Music Workshop For Kids and we recorded several CD's. I am currently teaching music theory and vocal techniques at The Institute of Production and Recording in downtown Minneapolis. I think the reason I have been able to have such a long career in this crazy business is that I have always been open to doing anything as long as it involves music and is done with class and involves great players and singers.
John Phillip Sousa Award of Excellence
Twin Cities Reader Best Female Vocalist
Minnesota Music Awards:
Best Female Vocalist (multiple years)
Artist of the Year
Best Country Band (multiple years)
Song of The Year (Prisoner of the Heart)
Emmy Award (Music Workshop For Kids)
Parents Choice Award (All five Music Workshop For Kids CDs)
2007 Inductee Mid America Music Hall of Fame
2013 Inductee Minnesota Music Hall of Fame
2013 Inductee Minnesota Music Hall of Fame