The Ordway Announces 2013 Sally Ordway Irvine Award Recipients

Jessica Petrie, Ordway 6/11/14

22nd annual Sally Awards honor extraordinary achievements in Commitment, Initiative, Education, Arts Access and Vision

Saint Paul, Minn., (June 9, 2014) – The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts today announced the recipients of the 2013 Sally Ordway Irvine Awards. Now in its 22nd year, the Sally Awards honor extraordinary achievement in the visual, performing and literary arts.

The 2013 Sally Award winners are:
EDUCATION: Elizabeth Jaakola
INITIATIVE: Kristine Sorensen
COMMITMENT: James Samuel “Cornbread” Harris Sr.
ARTS ACCESS: MacPhail Online
VISION: Franconia Sculpture Park

The Sally Awards are a living tribute to the vision of Sally Ordway Irvine, who mobilized the community to support her dream of a new performing arts center in downtown Saint Paul. The awards are presented annually to honor individuals and institutions that strengthen and enrich Minnesota with their commitment to the arts, arts education and arts access. Throughout the past two decades, the Ordway has been privileged to honor more than 80 outstanding artists, administrators, volunteers and organizations through these awards.

This year’s Sally Awards were dedicated to the memory of Sue McLean, the Twin Cities’ legendary concert promoter who was instrumental in conceiving and promoting signature events such as Music in the Zoo, Live at the Guthrie and the Basilica Block Party.

The 2013 Sally Award recipients were selected by a committee consisting of Ordway representatives, the 2012 Sally Award recipients, Minnesota State Arts Board and media representatives, and other leaders from the Minnesota arts and cultural community. The 2013 Sally Awards program is supported by the Minnesota State Arts Board, Minnesota Public Radio and Saint Paul Hotel.

Education Award – Elizabeth Jaakola

Elizabeth (Lyz) Jaakola is an Anishinaabe musician and educator from the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe. Her Indian name, “The lady who knows how to sing,” has provided the guidance for her life’s work. In addition, she earned both her Bachelor of Music in vocal performance and her Masters in Music from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Her varied musical background helped prepare her for a career in music education and American Indian studies at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, where she is full-time faculty and coordinates the Ojibwemowining Resource Center. Lyz ultimately chose a position as a music specialist at a tribal school before embarking on a performance journey and found teaching an equal challenge to opera, which she also performs. Performing and writing in many styles and genres, she’s difficult to pigeonhole, but these chameleon-like traits are only natural for a Native woman who readily embraces her mixed heritage.

Elizabeth’s past includes performances at the Rome OperaFestival, choral music at Carnegie Hall, and performing as a traditional ceremony singer, jazz scat singer, blues siren and regional soloist in venues throughout northern Minnesota. Her Native-based compositions have been heard on radio stations, television, video and stages near her home on the Fond du Lac reservation. Elizabeth has collaborated with the Arrowhead Chorale, the Echoes of Peace Choir, Minnesota Public Radio, Perpich Center for Arts Education and others to broaden understanding of Ojibwe music through performance and curricular development. To promote further cross-cultural experiences, Lyz occasionally gigs with her blues band (Lyz Jaakola & the Smokin’ Chimokes) or produces and directs various projects such as the Nammy Award-winning Native women’s handdrum group, Oshkii Giizhik Singers, the Anishinaabe Youth Chorus, and Native music performances. As head researcher for the Emmy Award-winning

“Ojibwe Waasa Inaabidaa” PBS documentary series, Lyz learned valuable skills she is now passing on to students at Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College in the Ojibwemowining Digital Arts Studio. Her busy schedule of teaching, performing, presenting and consulting is only made possible by the loving support of her husband, children, family and the community of Fond du Lac.

Initiative Award – Kristine Sorensen

Kristine Sorensen is the executive director of In Progress, a local nonprofit media arts organization whose mission is to diversify cultural dialogue and pave the way for new voices in the field of digital artmaking. In Progress provides opportunities for young people to develop their skills as storytellers, artists and leaders through the use of photography, video, music and other forms of digital media. This small nonprofit has been promoting the voices of young and newly developing artists since its inception in 1996. It is committed to breaking down barriers of geography, class, education and culture by using digital artmaking as a tool for public discourse while building the skills of young people so they may create, teach and lead.

In Progress has come a long way from its early years when it rented a 400-square-foot studio. Kristine volunteered as the executive director so that scarce dollars could be used to fund programs. In Progress soon developed a strong following among artists in Minnesota and beyond. Musicians, filmmakers and photographers flourished in the small spaces they had at In Progress, enabling them to create inspiring art about culture, identity and history. A small recording studio also gave young musicians a place to record.

When the economy went into recession, Kristine contributed her personal funds to renovate an artist gallery and studio at 213 Front Ave. where it attracted many youth from the North End neighborhood. The new space is equipped with tools to help neighborhood teens and adults record music and learn about digital photography and video production. It draws artists from the Twin Cities Latino, Native American, Hmong and African-American communities, creating a dynamic that enables creativity to flourish. Kristine works with a team of artists to mentor neighborhood youth and teach them career-oriented skills. These youth continue to look to In Progress for the support and technical skills needed for school and work.

Commitment Award – James Samuel “Cornbread” Harris Sr.

James Samuel “Cornbread” Harris Sr. is a Twin Cities legend and a 2012 inductee into the Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame. He acquired his interest in music at an early age, playing on a weather-beaten piano on a friend’s front porch while growing up. By the time he was three, both of his parents had died; he spent the next several years in a series of foster homes before being taken in by his grandparents in Saint Paul. Recognizing his potential, they arranged for him to take piano lessons, but Harris had other things on his mind and regularly skipped the lessons. He continued learning on his own, and by the time he entered the military in the early 1940s his repertoire had grown considerably. After being honorably discharged, he bought a chord book from Schmitt Music Co. and began polishing his keyboard skills. He took work wherever he could find it, playing pool halls, bars and rent parties. His earliest influences were in country music, citing Hank Williams Sr. and Gene Autry among his favorites. Somewhere along the way he acquired his nickname after making up a song called “Cornbread.”

Over the past 60 years, Harris has played at Nikki’s Café, Tulip’s, Capri Theater, Loring Pasta Bar and on the Anson Northrup riverboat, among others. He also played with the famed Augie Garcia Quintet. Now in his eighties, he is more active than ever. He plays several regular weekly and monthly gigs, and can be seen solo, backed up or playing with Cadillac Kolstad in Cadillac vs. Cornbread. Whether he’s expressing himself through ballads, blues, jazz, polka, country or calypso, his music speaks to the soul. He also has a passion for sharing his love of music with others, giving private lessons, teaching after-school classes, mentoring aspiring musicians and working in lock-up homes and detention centers.

Arts Access Award – MacPhail Online

MacPhail Online began as a collaboration between Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (KMS) junior-senior high school and MacPhail in spring 2011 with the support of the Minnesota State Arts Board. Today, MacPhail supplements elementary school and community education music learning for residents in the five counties surrounding KMS. The junior-senior high school band program has been enhanced and deepened with more music residencies, and music learners from age five to adult can now access online lessons.

Music educators in rural areas value the program because it gives them “colleagues” with whom they can compare notes on motivating and supporting student musicians. Superintendents see MacPhail Online as a differentiator for their schools, helping students achieve at a higher level and reinforcing the work of individual music educators. Students describe the program as a bridge between the individual student and the school band, helping each individual become a stronger player to enable the entire band to become stronger. MacPhail Online School Partners have seen deeper engagement in music learning by students, a higher rate of music practice among students and successful experience in competitions such as All-State Band. In Granite Falls, Minn., two MacPhail Online School Partnership students secured two of the 72 spaces for the All-State Band, a first for the school in more than five years. This year, six students are auditioning for the state honor and according to their band director, Nicole Boelter, “It’s suddenly become cool to be part of the band.”

Vision Award – Franconia Sculpture Park

Franconia Sculpture Park was founded in 1996 by artists Fuller Cowles, Tasha Hock and John Hock who envisioned establishing a place where artists could be stimulated, challenged and rewarded by the process of creating large-scale three-dimensional artwork. Each year, Franconia supports more than 40 local, national and international artists-in-residence in the creation and exhibition of new artwork; serves over 60,000 annual visitors who learn and are inspired by the park’s exhibition of 100+ sculptures; and serves over 10,000 community members of all ages with hands-on arts learning and cultural programming.

Located in the St. Croix Valley, Franconia offers citizens an expansive outdoor 30-acre space to explore large-scale sculpture in a pastoral, rural setting, at no charge, every day of the year.

Simply by presenting art in this open, approachable manner, Franconia makes art accessible for all and provides families and individuals of all ethnicities, ages and abilities a place to meet artists, be inspired and contemplate alternative perspectives. The park is that rare place where a casual visitor can easily strike up a conversation with a professional artist while he or she is working on a new sculpture. Ambitious artists and wide open spaces mix in a free-for-all of creative energy.

Learning opportunities for deeper exploration of the artwork include artist-led guided exhibition tours, a new Rural Arts Program, Kids Make Sculpture workshops, live metal pour demonstrations and workshops, and artist symposia. The park also offers a lively schedule of cultural programming including the fall Art & Artists Celebration and Music@Franconia, a summer concert series. At Franconia, established artists mentor emerging artists, and all learn from one another in the invigorating and rewarding process of creating new projects. Each artist undergoes a transformation, leaving with renewed focus, new skills and lifelong connections. On all of these counts, Franconia serves as a vibrant and stimulating center for artists to create, expand their skills and learn from one another.

Photos of the 2013 Sally Award recipients will be available on the Ordway’s press download site:

Background about the Sally Awards and short videos about this year’s winners will be available at:

Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

The Ordway is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading nonprofit performing arts centers and Saint Paul’s most elegant and inviting performance space. The Ordway’s Music Theater and soon-to-be-completed Concert Hall attract diverse audiences with an array of productions showcasing the finest in American musical theater, world music, dance and vocal performance. Education and community engagement are integral to the Ordway’s mission, with major initiatives including the annual Flint Hills International Children’s Festival and Ordway Education programs that serve more than 50,000 students annually. The Ordway also sponsors the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, a professionally guided academic and artistic environment that trains aspiring pre-professional performing artists. Together with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Opera and The Schubert Club, the Ordway is a member of the Arts Partnership and serves as the principal venue for their performances.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *