Dr Mary Kleinsorge
classical guitarist / singer / songwriter

"Dr Mary" Kleinsorge, as many know and love her, lives and sings to the open spaces of western Colorado and in southern Baja. But her journey began in eastern Kansas on a cattle farm in 1957. She was born in the middle of June wheat harvest, which was most inconvenient for everyone. Her mother could take little time off to rest before cooking, cleaning and caring for the harvesters that year.

Mary says that the farm was a wonderful place to grow up. She spent time singing to crowds of cattle that would gather, chew, and stare. She laughingly says that they prepared her to sing in dinner clubs. There was time to explore who she really was meant to be and to develop talents that could have been otherwise lost to the busy lives of the kids in town. Her parents' encouragement and the instilled value that she could do anything laid the groundwork for her very full and varied life as it is today.

She was playing and singing music for pay by the age of 12 and was leading a band that played for adult dances by age 13, the same year that she became a truck stop waitress in Strong City, Kansas. In Kansas there wasn't much call for a classical guitarist, and her father had a hard time understanding why someone would spend so many hours playing music that no one really wanted to pay to hear. Her love for singing coupled with her unusual way of playing the guitar resulted in something very special that people DID want to hear.

She began writing lyrics and music by age 14. Her first song was written for her first love, Danny Walker. Danny was different from the other boys. Danny and Mary spent hours laughing and playing their guitars together. After Danny moved away to Iowa, his sister wrote a letter telling Mary that he had a new girlfriend, and so it began......the FIRST of many broken hearts along the way. Mary has written literally hundreds of songs, and many were inspired by her broken heart and positive spirit to forge ahead.

She recorded her first full-length LP in 1975 entitled This Day, and began performing most nights of the week at least three hours each night traveling between the spread-far Kansas towns. Mary spent a year studying music at Wichita State University. But it interfered with her performing schedule and being young, she didn't see how the future would require the education. She focused on her audiences. She had many jobs to pay for her musical passion, day jobs I guess they call them. All the money she made went towards wardrobe, recording equipment and travel. She remembers one two-week period that she lived on two loaves of bread and a jar of peanut butter.

She was a dental assistant, worked in many restaurants, erected grain bins and steel buildings for her father's company, worked in a Dolly Madison factory bakery and even worked for a short time climbing telephone poles in spiky boots to paint the sticky black gunk on the tops of them!

By 1980 she was recording her second LP and began to travel and push her music exclusively after one of many broken hearts. Mary took her broken heart on the road. She played 6 nights a week, 4 hours each night, and traveled a 10 state area. She played any place they would listen, even stopping at farm houses to sell her LPs one at a time when she was running low on gas. She sang her heart out every night, no matter how many people were listening, in hopes that someone special would hear and love her music. But she was alone and lonely and her writing suffered. The common customers, hotel traveling salesmen, were more anxious to hear familiar country songs than classical and original work, so she lost touch with some of the passionate seeds that originally led her to a musical future.

There are too many memories to mention that make Mary sit back in awe that they all happened to her. She feels so protected and fortunate that she is safe and happy. Traveling alone as a single young girl wasn't the safest or the easiest, personally. She prayed every night while on the road that her spirit wouldn't be broken; that she would be led to where she was meant to be. Her grandfather was so worried that a life of performance could only end in tragedy and addiction, and Mary was determined to prove him wrong.

Sonny James, who had been named the "recording star of the decade" for the 1970s, set up meetings with producers in Nashville. The meetings fell flat when they told Mary that her music was "too original" and that she needed to write to sell instead of from her heart. In 1982, they told her that she was too old for them to invest money in. Discouraged and still alone, she went back on the road.

Mary became very popular performing in the Kansas City area. She was the second highest paid single performer playing in Kansas City at the time and played the Crown Ballroom at Crown Center; did the national anthem at many pro ballgames and then played the athlete receptions after the games; did many performances at the governor's mansion. Mary was the only singer to sing at the Delbert Dunmire wedding and got to sing on the same stage with Bobby Ridell, Franky Avalon and Fabien. But life was far from fulfilling or easy.

Mary promised herself that if she didn't like the life that she was leading by age 25, she would look toward a different one. On the front side of 25, she was depressed and unsure of herself for the first time in her life. Performing in smoky bars, she developed nodes on her vocal chords and was having an increasing problem with asthma.

There was a family of Chiropractors who loved to come hear Mary play. They had been faithful fans for nearly two years when they noticed that Mary's health was failing. She was using an inhaler on stage between songs and fighting to finish songs without coughing. Her vocal range was suffering, and she wasn't filled with energy as she once had been. She thought it ridiculous when they visited with her and suggested that they, as chiropractors, could possibly help her. But, she took them up on their offer to examine her and ..........long story short, 6 months later, she was off all of her medications . They had very practical suggestions on how to live. She had to cut down on her night club performances to give her lungs a break from the smoke, and Dr. Edmond Newcomb gave adjustments to her upper back and neck nearly every week to be sure that the nerves leading to the trachea and lungs were healthy and free to do their job. It was a miracle!

She continued to perform but made the life-changing decision to go back to college. She first studied art and music, as she had before.........then, Mary was moved to look into the healthcare field. After carefully interviewing doctors of many specialties, she chose to become a chiropractor. They seemed happier in general and very fulfilled by what they were doing. During her years at Cleveland Chiropractic college, she taught night classes at Johnson County Community College in the art department and sang on the weekends. She still does sculpting when she finds the time.

Dr Mary has practiced as a doctor of chiropractic for more than 20 years now. But she never gave up her love for music. Even with her busy life and through the Chinese adoption of her two beautiful daughters, Nikaila and Stephanie, she continues to write and record. She says, "It's still magical to me that I can sing something only found in MY heart, and someone, somewhere, can be moved by it.......even if I'm not in the room!"

Eight years ago Mary had a devastating fall. Her left arm was severely injured, and she couldn't play her guitar for three years. By the second year she sadly was resigned to never playing again and had a heavy heart in thinking of the wasted years she'd spent, musically. She had always thought there would be time to return passionately to her music and had gone for years without a true sense of new musical adventure and learning. She had devoted time to her patients, to her community, to her children, to finding true love. But her music was placed on the back burner, and now that burner was no more.

By accident Mary realized she was able to play again, though not without a great deal of initial pain and retraining of her numb little finger on her left hand. Bit by bit she has obsessively reclaimed her musical self. "It's not often that a musician gets the chance to revisit a beginning, to reinvent themselves. It's been a great journey of experimentation and learning". The first project Mary composed when she returned to her old friend was the gospel songs on Thank God for Small Things. "It was only right to thank Him for a second chance and for showing me how important my music is".

Mary is constantly looking for people to learn from, and because she had gone so many years without performing, she felt no pressure to play what people wanted to hear. This was one time in her life she could just play from her heart. And what's come from that is something she hopes you will see as unique and moving. More proficiency and a melting of many styles has resulted from her hours of "grateful" time on her guitar.

James Smith, professor at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, took Mary under his wing shortly after she realized she could play again. He was visiting his mother in Delta, Colorado, when they met and he was generous with his time and sharing of ways to spread jewels over her fretboard. After urging her to write down her original guitar pieces, he began transcribing them for her because she didn't know where to begin. Mary wouldn't be where she is without encouragement from so many teachers: Don Kile, from Emporia State University, Javier Calderon, Bolivian guitarist and Segovia student, now professor in Madison Wisc.; Javier de los Santos, Miguel de Hoyos, Paul Frazier, Doc, Peter Jansen, Richard Gillowitz, John Winn, Endre Balogh. But it was James' on-going confidence in her that gave her ultimate inspiration that pushed her to compose the Reluctant Farewell to a Dear Heart collection as s remembrance of James who died from a brain tumor in 2010. She has written pages from her heart about James in this collection.

Miguel de Hoyos has worked with her in Mexico and is responsible for her being able to sing in Spanish. He also has helped loosen up her right hand and her fear of less than perfection by exposing her to the wonderful freedoms of the passionate Latin guitar.

Mary's family is used to the fact that Mom is never without a guitar. Climbing a mountain, watching a movie, waiting for a doctor's appointment, they've conceded to being proud instead of embarrassed by their mother's compulsive behavior. Mary says that if she didn't take it everywhere she wouldn't have enough hours in her life left to accomplish what God meant for her to do. She continues to write, record, and perform and sees it all as a passionate adventure, forever in awe of what the ultimate purpose might be. She knows that there is a reason behind it all, even if she may never be completely clear as to what it is.

Music never stops for Mary even when she closes her eyes to sleep. The most recent things dancing around in her head these days are her new study of jazz guitar, a flirtation with the piano and the resurrection of her five-stringed banjo and learning classical pieces on it. She hopes you'll listen with eyes closed, breathing deeply, smiling gently. "I'm here to play especially for you. Someplace in my music is a message meant only for you. Listen and you'll hear it. I'm certain of it"!