If you are looking to do some socializing and thinking of a fun night out with dinner and music in Stevensville, then you can mark April 13th on your calendar and plan to attend “A Novel Affair,” a fundraiser sponsored by the North Valley Public Library Foundation. The event includes a dinner and silent auction to raise funds to support library programs and continued library building renovations, and entertainment by LeGrande Harvey and Friends.
You can expect to hear some good old country/folk tunes as well as something a little more “spiritual,” a term used by Harvey to describe his latest CD, “Forever Love.” Harvey is most well known for being the author of the song “Montana Melody” which is now Montana’s official State Ballad.
Harvey began playing the guitar and singing when he was in high school and showed some talent. In fact, he won a local talent contest and got an audition for the Ted Mack Amateur Hour. Musical talent seems to run in his family. His brother Alex was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. He wrote songs like “Delta Dawn” and “Rupert James.” Alex also wrote a song called “No Place But Texas” which was proclaimed the official Song of the Texas Sesquicentennial.
Harvey was living in a cabin west of Missoula in the Nine Mile area in 1981 when he wrote the song that would become Montana’s State Ballad.
He said he thought since his brother wrote a song about Texas, maybe he would write one about Montana. He said he didn’t have anything particular in mind, but just sat down and started working on it and in an hour and a half it was done.
“I fine-tuned it a bit the next morning,” he said, “but basically it was done in an hour and a half.”
He and a friend, Clay Lewis, began playing the song at the local music center and people seemed to really like it. A local school teacher asked him to come and perform at the school’s Spring Concert in 1982. It went well and one of the spectators turned out to be Marcia Dunn, the voice of KUFM’s “Pea Green Boat” program. Dunn started playing the song on her show.
A fifth-grade teacher in Helena who heard it on the “Pea Green Boat” contacted Harvey and asked if her students could have his permission to approach the state legislature about making it the State Song. The kids held a mock legislative session and invited House leader Hal Harper to attend. The students were successful in convincing Harper, so he took it to the legislature.
It ran into problems in committee because Montana already had a State Song and several committee members felt it would be difficult to get both the House and the Senate behind it. The solution was to change the bill and make “Montana Melody” the State Ballad, instead of the State Song. House Bill 39 passed both the House and the Senate in 1983.
A CD was produced entitled “Montana Melody” that included the state ballad and a couple of other original songs by Harvey. This was followed by “a more polished version” produced in a Nashville studio and was called “Montana In Time.” A limited edition of 1,000 called “Montana My Home” was released later. Harvey’s most recent CD is called “Forever Love.” He said this one has a different sound than the others, which he describes as a country/folk style. This one, he said hesitantly, is “more spiritual.” He said it is comprised of songs about his own spiritual journey through life.
The Foundation board of directors has decided to target the funds raised by the event this year towards the creation of a “Maker Space” as one step in the implementation of the North Valley Library District’s Strategic Plan.
According to past Foundation President Donna Bainbridge, who still serves as a board member, creating the Maker Space involves converting the area behind the Community Room into a space where classes can be held that may end up making a bit of a mess. Think making clay figurines, wood carving, doing water or oil painting, or any other messy sort of project.
Bainbridge said it would mean sealing the floor, putting in a window, installing some good lighting, and getting a rolling sink, among other things.
“It’s a way of opening up to the community for ideas and providing for fun ways to learn,” she said.
According to Bainbridge, the Foundation is working more closely than ever with the Library District in a joint effort at implementing the newly developed strategic plan. She said the President of the Library Board now attends Foundation Board meetings and the President of the Foundation Board attends the Library District board meetings. She called it “a very positive development.”
Over the past year, at the request of the Library District board, the Foundation facilitated the community listening sessions that led to the formation of the strategic plan. They also purchased the new book shelves for the Children’s Room.
“They were sorely needed,” said Bainbridge. She said what was there was a hodge-podge of various shelves, some of which were too shallow for large sized children’s books.
Tickets for the April 13th gala can be purchased at the North Valley Public Library, the Stevensville Main Street Association or the Bitterroot Star, or for more information contact Fran Schmitz at 777-3579 or 225-304-3947.