On Saturday night, Headwaters School of Music and the Arts will be transformed into a lounge setting, and Josef Schlemper is hoping to sing Frank Sinatra tunes for his friends and anyone who likes this kind of music.
He will host an hour-long singing show, at no charge, with commentary on the music as he transports the audience back to time before the advent of rock 'n' roll.
"The best part is watching people who actually could have seen Sinatra from that time or heard him on the radio," Schlemper said. "To see their eyes light up again and they become young, even if just for a few minutes. That's the best part of singing this music.
Schlemper will celebrate his 20th birthday and the release of a new CD on the same day.
He will don the fedora of his great-grandfather, Arnold Schlemper, from the 1940s; a rescued suit from a used clothing store; channel Sinatra and then ask the audience to "Come Fly With Me" at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 24, at HSMA, 519 Minnesota Ave. N.W.
"It is more like a give-back to all those teachers here in Bemidji" who have given him the encouragement to follow his dream of singing, Schlemper said.
He mentioned Bemidji State University professor Bradley Logan, who taught him how to sing correctly, and band director Derek Wickum and choir director Chris Fettig at Bemidji High School. He further mentioned those who gave him a place to sing for the first few times, including Reva Howe, DeeJay Arens, Noemi Aylesworth and Julie Quantrud and, especially, his friend Ian Thorson, who introduced him to Frank Sinatra's music.
"If it had not been for Ian, I may never have heard of Sinatra and not bought my first Sinatra CD," Schlemper said. "(Ian) has always been kind of a cool cat, just an interesting guy. We've been friends since we were 2 years old; we went to daycare together and he (is) almost like a brother to me."
Schlemper said Logan opened his eyes to see his potential, and gave him the encouragement to continue exploring music and singing. Yet, he admits to still be searching for his own voice and style for the "crooner" genre of music.
Schlemper just finished his freshman year at St. John's University in Collegeville, and his experience as part of the Chamber Choir European tour with professor Axel Theimer, director of choral activities. The music was all liturgical-based sacred music, because St. John's is a Catholic university.
Schlemper plans to return to St. John's as a philosophy major in the fall. But for now, he is plying his trade of crooning and willing to sing for appreciative audiences anytime, anywhere.
Schlemper's parents, CarolAnn Russell and Michael Schlemper, along with brother, Zoey, are inviting the audience to stay after the concert to sing happy birthday to him and enjoy a slice of cake.