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Remembering Christine Rosholt

Christine Rosholt: 1965-2011

Christine Rosholt performing at MinnRoast 2011 last April.
MinnPost photo by Jana Freiband
Christine Rosholt performing at MinnRoast 2011 last April.

Jazz vocalist and MinnPost friend Christine Rosholt died last Wednesday, a week before her birthday. Details of her death have not been released. Details of her life are being remembered and shared by her many fans and friends in conversations, emails and Facebook postings.

It's hard to picture the Twin Cities jazz scene without Christine's energy, spark and presence. The hardest-working singer in town, she performed everywhere for everyone: clubs, bars, festivals, libraries, hotels, community centers, department stores, the VA, senior citizens' homes, theaters, churches, weddings, benefits, historical societies. The day before she died, she sent out a press release listing future gigs in St. Paul, Duluth and Fargo.

Trained in theater, Christine knew how to work and hold a room. She was a consummate entertainer, connecting instantly with her audience, bantering with her band, telling stories, laughing at herself. Committed to music, she had released three full-length CDs, "Detour Ahead" (2006), "Lipstick: Live at the Dakota" (2008), and most recently "Pazz" (2011) with British songwriter Kevin Hall, featuring a blend of pop, jazz and R&B.

The buzz about "Pazz" was that it signaled a new direction for Christine. On the CD, her voice is clear, confident and lovely. She sounds happy. We're all trying not to read too much into the fact that the final track is titled "The Last Goodbye."

She held the CD release for "Pazz" at the Dakota on Dec. 1, filling the stage with Twin Cities musicians who appeared on the album. She also knew how to pick a great band. Her core trio consisted of pianist Tanner Taylor, bassist Graydon Peterson and drummer Jay Epstein, but she performed often with saxophonist Dave Karr, pianist Chris Lomheim, drummer Mac Santiago, and trumpeter/flugelhornist Dave Jensen. In her absence, many musicians will work less.

I've seen Christine so frequently over the years that I can't remember the first time. One of the earliest was probably at the short-lived Nochee's in Minneapolis on New Year's Eve 2004. She had a cold but she was there to sing, and despite the noise of the festive crowd, she did. The last time I saw her was at the Jungle Theater in late September for her "Jazz Meets the Bard" show, a collection of Shakespeare's songs and poems in jazz arrangements. She wore a ruff and looked adorable.

Christine was a game girl, a skilled self-promoter and natural room-brightener. If she met you once, she never forgot your name; she wrote it in a notebook she always carried with her. She wore Cartier perfume, the real thing, and kept a small bottle in her purse. Her voice carried; I often heard her chipper "Hi, Pamela! Hi, John!" from across a crowded club. She asked outrageous, nosy questions and didn't get mad if you chose not to answer. She loved her family, doted on her little dogs, and missed her mother, who died in 2006. And she really liked MinnPost.

When Christine liked something, she opened her heart and made it part of her life. Cramming rehearsals for the MinnRoast fundraiser into her busy schedule every year, she worked hard to memorize lyrics and dance moves that were constantly changing. She'd forget lines up to and including the last rehearsal but never missed on performance night.

Most of her MinnRoast songs were pointed but funny. In 2011, in the midst of a bitter legislative session, she opened the show at the Pantages with an "Oklahoma" tune rewritten to push DFLers and Republicans to be friends. In the same show, channeling Gloria Gaynor in "I Will Survive," she was the Pioneer Press fighting back against its bigger competitor across the river.

The year before, she brought the house to tears with a nostalgic ballad called "I Was the News," with lyrics by Al Sicherman.

Christine's volunteering for MinnPost went far beyond performing at MinnRoast. She served on the committee that developed the show. She sang at every MinnPost birthday celebration. She worked behind the scenes, too, asking friends and family to donate items for silent auctions. And she always volunteered to sing at special events, just as long as MinnPost could pay her musicians.

Two weeks ago, while helping to recruit craftspeople for a new MinnPost project, she sent out emails asking people to join her in volunteering for "a wonderful online newspaper called MinnPost." It is a "great, fun group of people," she said.

Because people loved Christine, they said yes.

"It's very painful to imagine doing MinnRoast without Christine," said Laurie and Joel Kramer, MinnPost co-founders. "It was not just her talent, but the joy she brought to everything she did. We are proud to have been among her many devoted fans, and we will miss her terribly."

A musical tribute to Christine Rosholt is being planned for Tuesday, Jan. 10, at the Dakota starting at 7 p.m. Tanner Taylor is asking musicians who worked with her and would like to perform to contact him at Her family requests that memorials be sent to Hennepin Health Foundation: The Christine Rosholt Act of Kindness Fund, 701 Park Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55415.

Christine Rosholt
Photo by Ann Marsden

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Comments (5)

I am among the legions who knew and loved Christine, for her rich and wonderful voice, her charm and enthusiasm and her willingness to share her talent with MinnPost. Christine was a sweetheart. I will miss her.

This wonderful woman made even off-key amateurs feel good about themselves.

Christine was simply terrific. Her ride came much too soon.

As your remembrance article said, "Christine performed everywhere for everyone" and "was a room brightener".

Christine did several performances in the last few years for the St. Anthony Branch Library in St. Paul and the community was fortunate to witness her artistry. Her show included many tunes from WWII and was fantastic!

Thank you Christine, you will be sorely missed!

Peg Doheny, former Branch Supervisor at the St. Anthony Branch

As lovely a person as she was a singer. All of us on the "MinnRoast" team will be grieving the loss of a friend and a wonderful performer.