In the style of Liberace, pop keyboardist Lorie Line has made a name for herself and her keyboard theatrics. She succeeds onstage and in personal appearances primarily through glamour poses in designer gowns, stage makeup, and non-stop, dynamic piano performance. Line sometimes dresses in coordinated costumes of her own creation and delivers a dazzling performance with vocals by her daughter Kendall. Her husband Tim Line acts as emcee. Skilled in a full range of musical styles—from rock ‘n’ roll, show tunes, movie themes, holiday carols, and ballads to the classics, gospel, and her own compositions—she has earned the title of “piano diva” and “America’s favorite female pianist.” Line achieved popular success during the 1990s with Heart and Soul and Sharing the Season, Vol. Ill, which peaked in the top 15 on the New Age charts.
The Lines, owners of Time Line Productions Inc., reserve their talents and resources to record only one artist—Lorie. Born c. 1958 in Reno, Nevada, Line was the child of conservative fundamentalists who permitted no instrumental music in church, but allowed their daughter to play Christmas carols at home. The granddaughter of a pianist at Hudson’s department store in Toledo, Ohio, Line was a piano prodigy at age five and enrolled for keyboard instruction the next year. In addition to playing by ear, she began teaching classmates at age nine. By her late teens, Line had won two national classical piano performance awards.
The first college graduate in her family, Line completed a fine arts degree in piano performance from the University of Nevada in 1986. She and her husband, a salesman for Josten’s school rings, moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, immediately after their marriage in 1988. In an eighth-floor auditorium, she began her career playing in the Nicollet Mall at Dayton’s department store. Mobbed by local fans, whom she later named her “Linebackers,” she quickly gave up her job as marketing director for a construction company and began moonlighting in bars and restaurants to become a career pianist of soulful, stylish numbers.
Line’s career moved faster than most toward the top. A year after her debut playing for shoppers, Tim Line cashed in the family savings to record and distribute his wife’s first CD, Out of Line, from the studio and office in the basement of their home. In 1995, two albums, Heart & Soul and Sharing the Season, Vol. Ill moved into the top 15 on the New Age charts. Line reflected on their can-do attitude to Lindsay Ackerman of Advance Newspapers: “While I waited for the major record companies to come through in the early days, over time we became a major label ourselves.” The Lines’ synergy has powered the business of arranging, producing, packaging, and marketing new albums and managing Line’s fan club appearances and multi-city tours, which put her on the road one out of every four days of the year.
Born c. 1958 in Reno, NV; married Tim Line, 1988; children: Kendall and Jackson. Education: Fine arts degree, University of Nevada, 1986.
Established recording and publishing firm, Lorie Line Music, 1988; released debut album, Out of Line, 1989; Heart and Soul and Sharing the Season, Vol. Ill scored in the top 15 on New Age charts, 1995; starred in a public television special, 1996; published illustrated autobiography, Just Me, 2000; toured the Midwest, 2001.
Addresses: Record company —Lorie Line Music/Time Line, 222 Minnetonka Ave. So., Wayzata, MN 55391.
Line has enjoyed multimillion-dollar success from the sale of 20 New Age albums, sell-out tours, and holiday recitals featuring audience participation with handbells. Her sales have topped two million albums and placed her at the pinnacle of Billboard’s New Age listing. Lauded in Billboard, the Chicago Tribune, Corporate Report, Executive Female, Nation’s Business, The Robb Report, Inc., and the Wall Street Journal, as well as in newspapers throughout the Midwest, she is a regular on radio broadcasts and media interviews. A greater honor came in August of 1996 with the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) television special Lorie Line Live!
A level-headed entrepreneur, Line pursues numerous music venues, including 13 books of sheet music. From her performance at a wedding of “Threads of Love,” an original piece honoring the sewing skills of the bride, Line produced a recording by the same title. Her website offers fans downloadable music for her renditions of “Amazing Grace” and “Old Cat and the Kitty,” an original piece. Line’s chutzpah has boosted Lorie Line Music to America’s second largest independent label. In 1999, Line also took a stand favoring downloading music from the Internet. Of her company’s pro-electronic decision to go with J. River’s Music Exchange, she explained, “We’ve always been innovators and sell music to our fans through non-traditional channels,” she told PR Newswire. “With electronic commerce being so promising, yet overwhelming, it’s important for us to offer our audience a safe and simple process to first hear my music, then be able to purchase it.”
Line’s schedule demands 90 concerts a year performing a range of styles, including such works as the English folk song “Ash Grove” and “Star of the County Down,” the Appalachian classics “The River Is Wide” and “Shenandoah,” Don McLean’s “Starry, Starry Night,” the rock classic “Norwegian Wood,” Edward McDowell’s piano vignette “To a Wild Rose,” a medley from the film Dances with Wolves, “Close Every Door” from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera, “I’d Give My Life for You” from Miss Saigon, and “Castle on a Cloud” from Les Miserables, which she recorded with vocals by her daughter Kendall. Line’s Silver Album of Christmas favorites also featured Kendall singing “Away in a Manger.” Favorites with fans are Line’s gospel and hymn tunes, including “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” “Jesus Loves Me,” “In the Garden,” and “He Leadeth Me,” as well as the Moody Blues hit “Nights in White Satin.”
In 2000, in addition to issuing an illustrated autobiography, Just Me, Line performed a two-hour concert at the University of North Dakota, backed by a vocalist, dance troupe, and her 14-member Pop Chamber Orchestra wearing handmade costumes. A year later, she orchestrated a Midwest bus tour of Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, the Dakotas, and Nebraska. She frequently yielded center stage to other performers in her entourage, some of whom she had featured on her recording The Heritage Collection.
Away from the press and fans, Line’s breaks take her to a private studio in Minneapolis for a daily series of pilates and keyboard practice and music composing. From her husband and their staff, she collects business updates at her office, Lorie Line Music, in Wayzata, Minnesota. Of the stress of business and performance, she commented to Mike Bockoven of the Grand Island Independent, “When I step on the bus, I say to myself, ‘Whew, it’s done.’ I’m a real fanatic about being prepared. So when I finally get out on the road, the hard part is done. All that I have to do now is perform.”
Out of Line, Time Line Productions, 1989.
Sharing the Season, Time Line Productions, 1991.
Story Line, Time Line Productions, 1991.
Sharing the Season, Vol. I, Time Line Productions, 1991.
Sharing the Season, Vol. II, Time Line Productions, 1991.
Lorie Line—Beyond a Dream, Time Line Productions, 1992.
Lorie Line—Walking With You, Time Line Productions, 1994.
Sharing the Season, Vol. Ill, Time Line Productions, 1995.
Heart and Soul, Time Line Productions, 1995.
Beyond a Dream, Time Line Productions, 1995.
Lorie Line Live!, Time Line Productions, 1996.
Lorie Line—Open House, Time Line Productions, 1997.
Lorie Line—Music from the Heart, Time Line Productions, 1997.
Lorie Line—Heritage Collection, Vol. I, Time Line Productions, 1998.
Lorie Line—Just Me, Time Line Productions, 1999.
Lorie Line Holiday Collection, Time Line Productions, 1999.
Lorie Line—The Silver Album, Time Line Productions, 2000.
Line, Lorie, and Anita Ruth, editor, Just Me, Time Line Productions, 2000.
Advance Newspapers (Grand Rapids, Ml), April 17, 2001.
Arizona Daily Star, December 29, 2000.
Brainerd Dispatch (Minnesota), March 8, 2001.
Cedar Rapids Gazette, November 18, 2000.
Des Moines Register, November 24, 1997.
Grand Island Independent, April 20, 2001; April 17, 2001; April 27, 2001.
Grand Rapids Press, April 29, 2000.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 17, 1999.
Minneapolis Star Tribune, December 10, 2000.
Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine, November 1998.
Minnesota Monthly, January 2001.
PR Newswire, February 26, 1999.
State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL), April 25, 2001.
Star Newspapers, April 12, 2001.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 8, 1999.
Toledo Blade, January 2, 2000.
Wall Street Journal, December 19, 1994.
“Lorie Line,” Smooth and Soul, http://www.smooth-jazz.de/Artists1/Line.html (September 14, 2001).
“Lorie Line Discography,” Music by Mail, http://www.websterrecords.com/artists/line.html (September 14, 2001).
Lorie Line Official Website, http://www.lorieline.com (September 14, 2001).
—Mary Ellen Snodgrass