Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Jan. 17, 2000

Songwriter charms children with his music

By Andrea Vargo

Face to face with a quiet little girl, singer/songwriter Charlie Maguire worked his magic. Within a few minutes, she was singing out loud with him.

Last week, Maguire was an artist-in-residence at the Humphrey Elementary School, through the financial support of the Waverly Lions, the Central Minnesota Arts Board, and in cooperation with the Humphrey Museum board.

Maguire is the only singing park ranger in Minnesota, officially, the Minnesota State Park Troubadour from March to October.

His mission at the elementary school was to guide students through the process of writing songs based on history.

Many of the performers these students see on television are people who write and perform their own music, and this sort of experience shows the students that they are also capable of doing the same thing, said Maguire.

Students took photographs of Hubert Humphrey, studied them, and wrote songs about what they thought he was thinking, or how he looked to them.

The students took some of their knowledge of history and combined it with their own hopes and dreams to write songs they performed Friday for parents and students.

Art students drew illustrations to go with the songs.

This is another way to celebrate the work the museum people are trying to do in this area, said Maguire.

This kind of outreach takes what Humphrey stood for and translates that into something students can identify with, year after year, he said.

Maguire said he is not really a political person, but a people person, and Humphrey was interested in people.

What Humphrey stood for is valid yet, he said.

This exercise is an attempt to think about what he meant to the community, explained Maguire.

Outreach of this type to students shows that a museum is more than just a building with bricks and mortar, said Maguire.

Colleges and universities are going on-line with the Internet, and sooner or later, we may not need buildings at all, he said.

But nothing replaces the one-on-one interaction of artist and student, Maguire stated.

"I am supposed to role-model the kind of work I do for a living," he said.

The support by the Lions shows they understand the wisdom of this kind of interaction, said Maguire.

Several of the high school students followed Maguire on his rounds through the classrooms on different days.

One day, Emma Fowler and her guitar accompanied Maguire, and Andrew Sawatzke observed his work on another day.

Sean Campbell of Waverly, home for a break from college, volunteered to tape all the sessions with the students.

Maguire has written over 800 songs in his 30-year career as a songwriter and composer.

The guitar he uses today was won as a first-place prize in a song writing contest.

It went with him while he was a regular on a radio show, "Prairie Home Companion," for almost 10 years.

Maguire writes and sings about Minnesota history, especially that along the Mississippi River.

Musical scores for two Great American History Theatre plays, "Mesabi Red" in 1991, and "Orphan Train" in 1997, were also written by Maguire.

He led a 500-person spoon band in front of Spoonbridge and Cherry at the dedication of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in 1988.

Maguire attributes influences on his music to Pete Seger, Woody Guthrie, and Lee Hays.


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