All the stars come out at the MN Music Hall of Fame | News, Sports, Jobs


Staff photos by Clay Schult The six 2022 Minnesota Music Hall of Fame inductees gathered on stage with their awards after the induction ceremony. Top row: left to right: Roger Grupp and Kurt Schiebel with Minnesota Brass; Paul Diethelm; Tony Wirth, Jack Mansk and Jay Ernst Kalk of Church of Cash and Mollie B. Bottom row: left to right: Dennis Spears, Connie Evingson, Ashley Commodore, Ginger Commodore of Moore By Four and Les Schuft.

NEW ULM– For the first time since 2019, the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame has inducted six new members.

This was the 32nd induction ceremony hosted by the MMHF. The organization officially inducted 200 members into the room.

New members include Mollie Busta-Lange (Mollie B), Paul Diethelm, Jay Earnest Kalk/Church of Cash, Lester Schuft, Minnesota Brass and Moore By Four.

Moore By Four was formed in 1986 at Ruby’s Cabaret in Minneapolis. The harmonies were provided by Yolande Bruce, Ginger Commodore, Connie Evingson and Dennis Spears with Sanford Moore as musical director. The group performed sold-out concerts at the Guthrie and Fitzgerald Theaters and continued to tour Europe and Japan. The band has performed for the US Olympic Committee, the Super Bowl, the Minnesota Twins, Vikings and Timberwolves, and former President Bill Clinton. Individuals have a background in gospel, jazz, pop and theater music.

Ginger Commodore, Connie Evingson and Dennis Spears accepted the award in person. Spears choked up accepting the award

“I hold this because Moore By Four has been my family”, he said. “I love this band more than you will ever know.”

He said the group is rooted in gospel music and he wished to thank God for providing musical gifts to Moore By Four.

Spears said the award was dedicated to Yolande Bruce, who died last year, but was certain she had already taken over Heaven’s music department.

Jay Ernest Kalk/Church of Cash is one of the nation’s premier Jonny Cash tribute bands. Kalk started in 1996 as a songwriter and bandleader, playing guitar, bass and vocals. The Church of Cash was formed in Honolulu in 2010, but Kalk would bring the band back to Minnesota. Kalk has performed over 4,000 shows with the Church of Cash, touring the United States, Europe and Asia.

Kalk accepted the award along with band members Church of Cash, Jack Manks and Tony Wirth.

Kalk thanked the many people who have supported his career over the years.

“I feel extremely fortunate to be included in this broad cultural engagement in music and to be here with such great musicians and artists today,” he said.

Kalk felt lucky to still be able to play music and said he would keep playing until he fell off the stage.

Lester Schuft has been a trumpeter and bandleader of The Country Dutchmen for over 62 years. A native of Hutchinson, Minnesota, Schuft has been an active member of several bands. He was active with the Gustavus College Symphony and the College Pep Band. During his career, Schuft made over 300 recordings, including Gashol Polka and “My car waltz.” He also had a half-hour Polka radio show called the “Musicians Gathering”. Schuft also taught many students the trumpet and helped others find instruments to play.

In his acceptance speech, Schuft said “If you have the opportunity to help someone with music, help them. I don’t care what it is. If you have to buy them a horn, buy them a horn. Do whatever you can to bring them into the world of music.

Schuft said he strongly believes that music is great therapy and a great field.

Minnesota Brass is a state drum and bugle corps based in St. Paul. Originally founded in 1946, the organization eventually evolved into a non-profit performing arts organization. Minnesota Brass has participated in the Drum Corps Associates since 1973 and is a regular finalist. The 75-year-old organization operates four distinct show sets; a drum and bugle corps for all ages; a mini-body; Winter Guard and an interior battery line.

The award was accepted by Minnesota Brass representatives Kurt Schiebel and Roger Grupp.

Schiebel said he was honored to be recognized as a community organization among all the great talent inducted.

Paul Diethelm is a guitarist and vocalist in several Minnesota bands. He is best known for his lead guitar in The Fabulous Armadillos, but he also performs with Slip Twister and played with Grammy winner Jonny Lang’s band for eight years. Diethelm also co-produces the Rock’n Roll X-mas Spectacular. Diethelm has done countless work sessions with numerous musical acts nationwide.

Diethelm thanked his family for their support in his career. He said his childhood home was always filled with music. He also thanked the MMHF for recognizing all out-of-state municipal bands, choirs and educators as they are an important musical culture in rural areas.

Mollie Busta-Lange (Mollie B) is a multi-instrumental and award-winning singer. She is the host of the TV show Mollie B Polka Party on RFD-TV. Her career began with the Jim Busta Band in Spring Grove, Minnesota when she was a child. Most often, Mollie B performs with the band SqueezeBox. Over the years, she has performed in over 30 states and eleven countries. She has become a major influencer and advisor for music events. Mollie B frequently returns to her home country and performs regularly at the Bavarian Blast festival in New Ulm.

Mollie B thanked her family and friends for supporting her career. Mollie credited her husband and music partner Ted Lange for helping her realize her potential.

She also thanked her parents for setting an example of kindness and good work ethic for her while raising a family in a musical household.

“I am I have dedicated my life to music,” she says “I see the happiness it brings to people.”

A special showcase event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at 27 N. Broadway to honor the new inductees and the first displays dedicated to each.



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