Music with Minnesotans: Congresswoman Betty McCollum

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
September 26, 2012

St. Paul, Minn. — Congresswoman Betty McCollum feels strongly about the arts.

She serves on the three-member congressional committee which oversees the funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. Though funding from the NEA has become a far less controversial subject than in past years when grants were given to individual artists, today arts organizations are struggling just to come up with the funds they need to survive.

Still - as a comment by the director of the NEA, Rocco Landesman on a recent visit to Minnesota points out — "The Twin Cities are poster children for what the arts need to be in every city across the country with this kind of support and this kind of commitment."

That makes the Congresswoman very proud to be serving this state. She told me that not only do the arts enhance our lives, help us live meaningfully and for our children to learn and grow, the arts also generate $166 billion in economic activity.

And the arts — music in particular — have been of great value to the Congresswoman personally.

Though she says she only just "tried" to play an instrument — the piano and the bass ukulele as a camp counselor — recordings of classical music become a kind of soundtrack to her growing up in South Saint Paul. Playing Monopoly and looking at the National Parks through a View-Master needed classical!

And of note too is that Ms. McCollum's third grade teacher should be thanked for asking her to sing more softly — but to instead use her diaphragm to support the sound. This skill is one she has honed on the floor of the United States Congress when she gives her persuasive and impassioned speeches — and can be traced back to a participation in music!

The Congresswoman's playlist:

Ferde Grofe, Grand Canyon Suite - Kunzel/Cincinnati Pops

George Frederic Handel, Water Music: Suite No. 2 - Koopman/Amsterdam Baroque

Next week, we'll be visited by an artist, the potter Glynnis Lessing from Northfield. She says there is a purely physical part of her work — the wedging and throwing — coupled with the contemplative aspect of designing and carving — that are enhanced and inspired by listening to classical.

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