Bonnie Sommerfeld was born June 30, 1965 in the tiny town of Valley City, North Dakota and began her music career early taking classical piano lessons at the age of eight and composing a piano sonata as well as flute pieces by the age of 17. Bonnie has been honing her vocal and instrumental performance skills since that time through jazz and improvisational work.
Inheriting a rich eighty year musical history started by her grandfather, Henry Sommerfeld, and currently led by her father, Myron, Bonnie has performed with the Myron Sommerfeld Orchestra as it has traveled throughout the Midwest, Arizona and Canada. The band and Bonnie have performed in almost every place one can think of...from barn dances, smokey clubs, fairs, ballrooms, street dances, chapels, services clubs, Air Force bases, private wedding and anniversary dances to radio and television. The band has played at three Governor’s Balls in North Dakota and with the 1st Armored Division Band in Germany. Bonnie has recorded on at least three of the Sommerfeld Orchestra albums.
At the age of 18, Bonnie won the talent award at the Miss North Dakota pageant for singing a medley of tunes from the Big Band era. Using pageant scholarship money, she entered Moorhead State University of Minnesota and earned a degree in music education with an emphasis on classical flute performance. She was named as an alternate flutist for the Fargo Moorhead Symphony.
After purchasing a tenor saxophone, Bonnie expanded her musical talents by playing lead tenor sax in the dance band and with other regional jazz bands. Moving from flute to tenor sax and her proven versatility in voice, flute, saxophone, classical and jazz earned her a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. She attended for two years and worked with master saxophonists Joseph Viola and William Pierce.
Paralyzing health problems forced Bonnie to take several years off, but her career was re-born when the group, 42nd Street, placed a microphone in her hand so that she could scat sing with the band, reviving her, “Ella” style to the delight of listeners. Since that time Bonnie has performed with both local and national artitsts and has had the pleasure of scat singing with Stephanie Nakasian and Denis DiBlasio.
Bonnie’s broad instrumental and vocal training, coupled with her experience and a holistic approach to the individual, allows her to deliver a rare, dynamic sound which captivates audiences everywhere.
Music Runs in the Family
By Jack Lebo
Fargo, ND - The name Sommerfeld is a name associated with fine music throughout the state of North Dakota and reader of the Big Band Report for many years.
Now, another Sommerfeld has come to the forefront. Her name is Bonnie, and if her debut CD is any indication, you will be hearing much about this talented, young vocalist for years to come.
Bonnie claims she was born into music. Many years ago, her grandfather launched a dance band, which her dad, Myron, took over, and leads today. According to Bonnie, "In my family, music is a way of life. All our lives revolved around playing for dances and attending performances of musical groups that came to our area."
Classical piano lessons were on schedule for this young artist from age 8 through 18. She began flute then saxophone lessons and earned a 2-year scholarship to study jazz at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. In addition, she participated in various choirs, jazz choirs, wind ensembles, jazz groups, composition competitions and other groups through the years.
At age 18, Bonnie won the talent award for the Miss North Dakota Pageant, when she sang a medley of tunes made famous by the great vocalists of the Big Band Era. She says her musical influences are, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torrne, and the Big Bands of, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, and Stan Kenton. "My mom and dad were very supportive of the arts, and especially of me participating in the arts," declared Bonnie.
Unfortunately, just as she was at the top of her game, a health problem struck Bonnie, and she had to re-learn all of life's basic skills, including sitting, walking, driving, writing, ect. It took seven years of patience, and practice to gain back her health and strength, but thanks to her determination, she is back in action.
Her new compact disc, Bonnie Sommerfeld-Live with Myron Sommerfeld Orchestra, is delightful listening, and contains 21 tracks of sheer joy. This gal can handle anything that comes her way, including, Goody, Goody, You Made Me Love You, Jump, Jive and Wail and Blue Skies.
There's even a track or two thrown in, featuring her dad on the vocal.
Own this CD by sending a check for $16.99 to: 1435 33rd Street South, Apartment 302 Fargo ND 58103, 701-271-8184.
($15 for CD and $2 for shipping and handling)