Pelican native will debut song about Pelican’s famous ‘Lady of the Lake’

A fellow with deep roots in Pelican Rapids, who happens to be a fine singer and guitar-picker, will take the stage with songs and stories of the old hometown. 

Pelican Rapids native Jeff Johnson will be performing at a special dinner-entertainment event May 4 at the Pelican VFW. A native of Pelican Rapids, the Johnson family is remembered by many from their store, Johnson’s Furniture–where Jeff worked with his father, Everett for many years.

Jeff Johnson, remembered as one of the kids of the Johnson Furniture Store family, will be performing May 4 at a Pelican VFW dinner-entertainment event.

Johnson has written a special song that will debut for the occasion, titled ” Nimuué, Lady of the Lakes.”  The song celebrates the history of “Minnesota Woman,” often considered one of the state’s great archaeological discoveries–just a few miles south of Pelican. 

“I always knew her as ‘The Minnesota Man,’” said Johnson, a 1975 graduate of Pelican Rapids High School, who will be playing familiar favorites and some original material, while offering some of his memories of “growing up Pelican.”

“I remember visiting the Historical Marker on Highway 59 a few times as a kid,” recalled Johnson. “We went to the Minnesota Science Museum on a sixth grade trip. We saw her skeleton there.”

The dinner event is hosted by the Glacial Minnesota Woman Organization, a non-profit dedicated to preserving the legacy of the unusual Minnesota Woman discovery. 

The organization was instrumental in reviving interest and promoting further study of Minnesota Woman–who has been given the name “Nimuué…Lady of the Lake.”  

The chicken or rib dinner at the VFW begins at 7 p.m. 

For ticket information, contact Terri Zentz at 218-863-2188. 

Johnson will be remembered as “The Furniture Guy” because he worked with his Dad, Everett Johnson, at the former Johnson’s Furniture for many years.

Directing choirs and performing in community theaters for much of his life, Jeff has a deep love for music.

He was influenced by James Taylor and John Denver in his teens. He taught himself to play the guitar so he could sing some of his favorites growing up.

Johnson was one of the guest performers last summer in the Maplewood State Park concert series.  

“I didn’t realize the importance of Minnesota Woman’s age and the significance of her discovery until later when the group from the Pelican area reintroduced her to us,” said Johnson, who also admired the Nimuué inspired sculpture and paintings done by local artist Marcella Rose. 

“It wasn’t until I was asked to share some music at the upcoming banquet, that I realized just how important her history is for all of us to remember,” said Johnson, who lives in south Fargo.  “The song I wrote for her is only two minutes long. ‘Short and sweet.’ Maybe like she was.”

Identified as Minnesota Man soon after the discovery in 1931, the “Lady of the Lake” later became “Minnesota Woman.”  She was found in what is believed to be the glacial sediment of prehistoric “Glacial Lake Pelican” along what is now Highway 59, near Prairie Lake. 

The organization has played a key role in soil borings to provide further data in the research of Minnesota  Woman.  The group is also working on an enhanced kiosk and monument park features at the Minnesota Woman park area, north of Pelican Rapids on Highway 59. 

Also performing at the dinner, current Pelican student Christopher Hovden, who began his musical endeavors when he was 5 years old by taking piano lessons from Suzy Oliver. He took 5 years of piano lessons and finally started percussion lessons with Sean Fitzsimmons and Jeff Peter. He since then has taught himself to play ukulele, guitar, mandolin, and a little bass guitar. He has taken voice lessons from Diane Jordan and Lori Paakh. He enjoys playing and singing wherever he can, from the St. Leonard’s Catholic Church Choir, to hosting a local open mic. 

Also performing, Nancy Hilber, who started on ukulele when she was 12 which led to teaching herself guitar.  She has sung and played in many church choirs over the years and sung with groups, most notably Plainfolk in New Jersey for 10 years. Nancy is a mother, grandmother and great grandmother.  Nancy works as a RN at the Pelican Valley Senior Living center. Nancy and her husband Joe own Lida Greens Golf Course.