During their early years of marriage, their main entertainment
was to make music
together! They were living at the end of the road in southern Boone County,
Missouri, and they had no television and no money. The word began to get out in central Missouri about their music, and
they began to be asked to perform--sometimes, miraculously, they even got paid!
In 1980 they
went to Colorado on vacation (actually, to escape the heat wave), and found
themselves being asked to perform so often that they arrived home from vacation
with more money than they had when they left. They were struck with the amazing
realization that they might actually be able to able to make a
living doing what they both loved doing more than anything else --
what a concept!
They began to tour regionally, and
by 1986, they were touring nationally and into Canada. The same year, they took the
great leap: Win quit her part-time job which was supporting the family, and they became full-time musicians. They have performed at major festivals all over the U.S. and in
Canada, including a 1995 appearance at the Roots of American Music Festival at
the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. To date, they have
released six albums of their music and have
appeared as guest
artists on numerous other recordings.
Daughters Leela and Ellie Grace traveled with
from the very beginning, and since they were immersed in the music and raised
with music as their parents' main form of entertainment (no TV!), they
became quite competent instrumentalists, songwriters, vocalists, and percussive
dancers at an early age. Leela and Ellie gradually began to
perform with their parents (What else to do while they are
onstage? You already know all the tunes and songs...) and by ages 13
and 15 were members of the band. But by 1997 as Ellie and Leela became
increasingly involved in their college studies, the band began to split into two
duos, with Leela and Ellie sometimes doing solo performances as
In 2004, Paul Fotsch & Win Grace still lived in southern Boone County at the
end of the road. Leela and Ellie had both graduated from college (summa
cum laude!) and they each live in their own houses near downtown
Columbia, MO (a vibrant and happening place!). All four Graces could
be found touring and performing throughout North America and continue to make
their living playing music. Most often, the parents were going one
direction to perform, while Leela and Ellie go the other. But occasionally
the two duos (the parental units and the sister units) would be booked at the
same festival, in which case they would sometimes sit in on a song or two on each
In 2003, Win and Paul joined
forces with nationally-known musicians Cathy Barton, Dave
Para, and Bob Dyer to form The
Discovery String Band. The five had appeared on each others'
albums numerous times, but they were moved to actually form a band by their
common interest in the Lewis and Clark journey.
As Bob filled notebooks with new songs and
notes, Cathy and Dave began writing songs and digging up long-forgotten
200-year-old tunes, Cathy learned to play the Indian flute, Win
became interested in Metis fiddling and voyageur songs and began to
learn Le Pied, the traditional French/Metis seated clogging, it became
increasingly obvious that these "Meriwether Pranksters" had developed
something unique and special. In November of 2003 they released a
70-minute CD (with a 28-page booklet!) titled "Most
Perfect Harmony," Lewis and Clark: A Musical Journey. Their
program, Lewis and Clark: A Musical Voyage of
Discovery, premiered at the historic Missouri
Theatre in Columbia, Missouri in November 2003 as well, and they are now booking the
In 2007, at Win's urging, Paul agreed to take a sabbatical from performing
and touring. At age 57, Paul got a real job which delighted Win
since she was exhausted from years of performing, touring and managing the music business. She
looked forward with delight to quiet times at home without the hectic 60-80 hour
work weeks which she had been keeping for years as the manager (and person with
too many hats) of the music business. (There is always something to be
done when you're self-employed!) However, that happy ending or even
beginning was not to be.
Paul moved into Columbia. Win is still in the same home at the end of the
road and working on reclaiming the joy that she once found in music, and also
working on starting a new life. She is contemplating a return to
performing and perhaps teaching -- looking for something right and good to do
with her musical talent. She's also looking for a job with no "homework!"
Stay tuned in 2010 for this new chapter.
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