Medora Musical highlights local song

by Wendy Fix

North Dakota LIVING Magazine

The Medora Musical, always a spectacular event, will feature a special song in the 2011 performances.

In 2010, the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation sponsored the “North Dakota Super Songwriting Competition,” and received more than 150 entries. Songwriters were asked for song submissions that captured the attributes of North Dakota and the spirit of the people who live there. The grand prize winner, “Always North Dakota” by Andrea Stolpe, was announced in January 2011. As a result, Stolpe was awarded a cash prize and her song will be included in the 2011 Medora Musical.

Andrea Stolpe was raised in Stillwater, Minn., and now resides in Los Angeles, Calif., with her husband, Jan, and their 18-month-old daughter, Hannah. Stolpe says while writing “Always North Dakota,” she tapped into her Midwestern roots and vivid memories of a trip through North Dakota in her adolescence.

Stolpe says the process of writing “Always North Dakota” spanned a week’s time. “I carried a notebook with me everywhere, and immersed myself in memories of my childhood, and our trip that eighth grade year. As memories and images came to mind, I jotted them down one by one, and chose to use the most impressionable ones, like the thunderheads in the summer skies,” Stolpe says.

Indeed, upon dissecting the lyrics of “Always North Dakota,” one will find traces of Stolpe’s memories woven throughout. For example, the first line of the song is: “There’s a winding path, though a field of wheat, on a plot of land…” This, says Stolpe, refers to the driveway leading up to her grandparents’ farm house in Madison, Minn. It’s also a setting commonly found in rural North Dakota.

Stolpe’s husband, Jan, is a musical engineer and producer.

Together, they came up with the final version of “Always North Dakota.” As the grand prize winners in the “North Dakota Super Songwriting Competition,” the Stolpes were awarded $5,000.

“I wish I could say we spent the award money on something quite romantic or extravagant,” Stolpe says, “but we recently purchased a home and our chimney was in desperate need of repair. It has been wonderful to light a fire on cool evenings to warm the house.”

The Stolpes hope to travel to North Dakota and Minnesota this summer to attend the Medora Musical and to visit family. More information about songwriter Andrea Stolpe can be found at AndreaStolpe.com.

Wendy Fix is a freelance writer and owner of Prairie Ink Writing Services. She and her husband, Mike, are raising their five children in Bismarck.

This story is a condensed version of the original article that appeared in the July 2011 issue of North Dakota LIVING Magazine.

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