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Prairie Fire Ladies to spark in Stockholm

Fire Prairie Lady Choir member strike silly poses. The ensemble will sing at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at the WideSpot in Stockholm, Wis. Photo by Anna Grinets 1 / 2
Prairie Fire Lady Choir, based in the Twin Cities, usually sticks close to home but will make the big trip to Stockholm -- Wisconsin, that is -- on Oct. 13. Photo by Anna Grinets2 / 2

The Prairie Fire Lady Choir will perform at the WideSpot in Stockholm at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13. This all female a cappella choir is made up of 60 women from Minnesota.

According to Annette Schiebout, who has been in the group since its founding, the choir began in 2010. Before the group's first gig, the five or six members would meet at one another's homes to sing.

Schiebout explained that during the first year of the choir's existence, group members asked anyone they knew if they sang and would be interested in joining an a cappella group. Now, instead of actively seeking out members, the choir had to turn people away that were interested in auditioning for the 2018 season.

Anna Miller joined after the group's conception. According to Miller, around 2015 there were numerous secular choirs that were being founded and emerging. She found the idea of singing with a group of people intriguing and began looking for a group. Miller found and joined Prairie Fire Lady Choir.

The choir does not have a director. So, according to Schiebout, the 60 women "try to practice consensus decision making, which is a fancy word for being democratic." The group has a variety of committees and a board that manage different aspects of the choir. Miller is on the board of directors and the marketing committee.

Each season, the choir holds a song pitch, where members can bring a song idea to the group and pitch it as a song that the choir should sing in the upcoming season. About three to five new songs are voted into the group's repertoire each season. Those whose pitched songs are chosen are responsible for arranging the piece for the choir. Some members do the arrangements themselves, other get help from other group members or outside sources.

Choir members are also able to pitch original pieces. In 2015, the Prairie Fire Lady Choir received a grant to work with local singer-songwriter Aby Wolf and other Minnesota musicians in a songwriting workshop.

Though the choir sings a variety of songs, there is a clear connection to the Minnesota music scene. The group has covered Matt Latterell, Prince, The Replacements and other local musicians. These covers have been performed in the Cedar Cultural Center, at the Art Shanties Project in Minneapolis, the Women's March in St. Paul and even First Avenue.

"First Ave is kind of a dream that I didn't even know that I wanted," said Schiebout when recounting the times that she performed in the Minneapolis venue with the choir.

The choir has the majority of their concerts in the Twin Cities. "We don't travel a whole lot, going to WideSpot is far for us," Miller said.

The group decided to make the trek cross state borders when one of Schiebout's friends from high school, who is on the board for the WideSpot, reached out to Scheibout. According to the choir member, the Star Tribune published a piece in 2017 about which local groups should be booked for a Super Bowl party and the Prairie Fire Lady Choir was on that list. The choir's season did not start until about a month after the Super Bowl, so they did not participate in the football-related festivities.

The concert on Saturday will be a combination of new and old songs. Both Miller and Schiebout are excited to debut "Settle Down" by Kimbra. The group is also planning on singing "Floodplain Ballad," a piece that was written by one of the original choir members.

In order to reduce waste, The WideSpot does not print tickets, so those wishing to attend the event need to check in at the box office. The box office will open 45 minutes before the concert and doors and the bar will open at 6:30 p.m.

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