by Dennis Dalman
Audience members will have a chance to “tour” America’s greatest river in songs, images and stories when Steven Marking presents Our Mighty Mississippi for the annual Laughter and Lemonade event in Sartell.
The multi-media concert will start at 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 12 in the Gathering Place at St. Francis Xavier Church, 219 2nd St. N. Tickets are $3, payable at the door.
Laughter and Lemonade is sponsored by the Sartell-St. Stephen Community Education program and Country Manor Senior Living Campus.
Marking created and performs his one-man show, which has garnered widespread raves by audiences far and wide. As the presenter of Our Mighty Mississippi, Marking has been called “Mark Twain with a gorgeous voice, mixed up with a bit of Garrison Keillor (humor) and Ken Burns (history).”
The program involves Marking, an acclaimed world-class baritone singer, performing classic songs, all having to do with the Mighty River, such as Moon River, Ol’ Man River, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, River Chanty, Up a Lazy River and Marking’s own song, Gone Fishin.’ Between songs, Marking tells of the history, legend and lore of the river, with a few humorous stories of his own mishaps that happened on the Mighty Miss.
Many of the visuals in the concert are movies and photos taken by Marking himself during his countless visits to and on the great river. The show highlights the visual splendors of the river – its flora and fauna and its long history as a transportation artery for the nation.
Marking knows whereof he sings. He was raised in Brice Prairie, Wis., a stone’s throw from the Mississippi River where he loved to explore its backwaters, fishing, swimming, hunting and skating. Later, he earned a master’s degree in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory. After studying opera, he performed in classic operas and musical theater, mainly in the New York area.
In recent years, Marking has lived in St. Paul, back to the site of the river he has always loved. He sings with the Minnesota Opera and the Minnesota Chorale and is soloist for Hennepin United Methodist Church. He also entertains, along with his wife, aboard the Queen of the Mississippi, a luxury old-fashioned steamboat that travels from St. Louis, Mo. to St. Paul.
Our Mighty Mississippi has been praised by all who have experienced it.
The following are just two of the many kudos it has received:
“The audience jumped to its feet for a standing ovation after Steven Marking’s show. Being we are a river town, folks could easily relate to the music, stories and photos of this great river and Steven’s beautiful baritone voice and warm presence made it even more captivating.” – Kris Niebler, program director, Coon Rapids.
“Having worked on the Mississippi for almost 30 years and paddled its length, Our Mighty Mississippi truly captures the river’s spirit.” – John Sullivan, Wisconsin DNR