Kate MacKenzie Comes Out of Retirement to Join Hopeful Gospel Quartet Again!

The Hopeful Gospel Quartet which began one day in 1987 in a chance meeting between Garrison Keillor, Robin and Linda Williams and Kate MacKenzie has been a long time favorite with A Prairie Home Companion Radio Show Fans. 

Left to Right: Garrison Keillor, Linda
Williams, Kate MacKenzie, Robin Williams
After MacKenzie’s retirement in 1999, her position was filled first by Mollie O’Brien and then Carol Elizabeth Jones.

The A Prairie Home Companion Cruise is the catalyst for the reunion of the four original members of the group.  On July 9, the 2011 Prairie Home Cruise sets sail from Boston, heading up the coast to Maine and Nova Scotia, through the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, and on to Montreal, Quebec.

According to Robin Williams, “It'll be a little more
special this year because Kate MacKenzie, our original partner in the Hopeful Gospel Quartet is coming out of retirement and we'll be singing with her for the the first time since 1999.”

MacKenzie has been a favorite guest of A Prairie Home Companion since 1981. For many years, she was lead singer of Stoney Lonesome, with whom she recorded six bluegrass albums, toured Europe, Japan and North America, and was featured in the public television series Showcase and the Nashville Network's Fire on the Mountain. With the Hopeful Gospel Quartet, MacKenzie has recorded a live album from Carnegie Hall, performed at folk festivals in Scotland and Denmark, and was featured on PBS' Austin City Limits. The Hopeful Gospel Quartet's newest recording is Climbing Up on the Rough Side, on the HighBridge label. MacKenzie's work with A Prairie Home Companion has included co-host roles in several Prairie Home broadcasts, coast-to-coast tours, farewell and reunion shows, 20 Disney Channel television broadcasts, the 1993 Book of Guys tour, and a recurring dramatic role as Sheila, the Christian Jungle girl (wild, yet pure). MacKenzie's first solo album, Let Them Talk (Red House Records), received enthusiastic reviews and was on the National Bluegrass Charts for 10 months. A second solo album, Age of Innocence (Red House), was released last fall and earned MacKenzie a Grammy nomination for Best Bluegrass Album. MacKenzie's success was noted in The New York Times, which grouped her in "the new wave of strong female voices."

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