Neal Hagberg. . .In Concert. . .Wednesday, January 17th in Hope’s Sanctuary!

Neal Hagberg was born in Omaha, NE in 1959.  Two weeks later his family moved to Montevideo, MN, where he grew up in small town prairie life revolving around sports, Swedish hymns, theater and music.  He attended Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, where he was pre-med, and spent a year of college studying Japanese language at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan. During this time he also was involved in the music and theater productions on campus and was quarterback of the college football team.

Hagberg was on his way to medical school when the road veered.

He had originally thought a career in professional sports sounded good.  But being a small college wishbone quarterback did not exactly prepare him for the NFL. It didn’t prepare him for the folk music world either, but he reasoned at least in music he wouldn’t get landed on by 300 lb. noseguards.

In 1984, Hagberg was signed by Allied Concert Services to tour the Midwest as a solo singer/songwriter.

From 1985-1989, while still continuing touring, he attended Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN and received his M.Div. in 1989.

In 1989, he teamed up with singer Leandra Peak and they formed the duo Neal & Leandra.  One of Hagberg’s penned songs, “Old Love”, became a public radio favorite at stations around the United States, and he and Peak began touring nationally.

In 1992, Neal & Leandra were signed to a touring contract by Columbia Artists Management Inc. (CAMI), and two years later, Red House Records, a nationally renowned folk label, signed them to a long term recording contract.

Since then, they have given concerts in 45 states and Canada.  Critics and fellow musicians have hailed Hagberg’s songwriting as “mastering the art of saying more with less” (The Washington Post); “inspired” (Minneapolis Startribune); and credited Hagberg with writing  “classics” (Tom Paxton).

In 2008, responding to the intolerance he saw around him in the world, Hagberg released a solo CD, It’s Not As Simple As It Seems.  This project is ‘not “Old Love.”’ Refusing to reduce issues to sound bites, the 14 songs on this CD put a human face on the suffering we experience and, subsequently, cause in the world.  No topic is off limits: war, homophobia, abortion, religious fundamentalism, or even forgiveness.

The conversations that transpired led Hagberg to create workshops and artist in residencies on the themes of the songs, and also served as a springboard for workshops exploring the paths we choose in life.  Hagberg’s particular path has led him to facilitate dialogues – using music as the entry point of discussion – back where he started his education: in schools, colleges, and places of worship, as well as at fine arts venues around the country.

Hagberg is the recipient of two McKnight Artist Fellowships, one for Performance in 2003 and one for Composition in 2010.

Currently, Neal Hagberg is Director of Tennis & Life Camps at Gustavus Adolphus College, where he has worked the past 34 years in the summers and now year round.  Tennis & Life Camps is recognized as one of the top tennis camps in the country by Tennis Magazine.  Hagberg is a USPTA Elite Professional and designed the “life” portion of TLC with legendary Gustavus coach and teacher Steve Wilkinson, whose philosophy was a radical, simple approach of teaching life skills through the game of tennis, by taking the focus off winning.

Hagberg lives in Minneapolis with his wife and daughter.





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