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Colleen Jelsing moving on again, but glad she came home

August 5, 2011
By Cathy Jelsing

In 2003, when Colleen Jelsing was writing the songs for her CD "Comin' Home", she was living in Tampa, Fla., with no intention of going anywhere, certainly not home to Rugby.

Her career as a singer-songwriter was taking off. Known by her stage name "Anna O.", she'd been named Tampa Bay's "Best of the Bay" four times. She'd opened for Janis Ian, had performed at Austin's infamous South by Southwest Music Festival, and had just signed a contract with a prominent Nashville publisher.

Then the bottom dropped out of her world. Her husband died. A series of illnesses followed. Emotionally and physically drained, Jelsing tried starting over in New Mexico, but Albuquerque turned out to be only a stopping point on her way home.

"On one hand returning to Rugby was a surreal decision for me to make, but intuitively I knew it was exactly the right thing to do," Jelsing says. "It brought me back to who I really am and helped me put myself back together after some pretty trying times."

She arrived in May 2009, not having played any music in five years, and within weeks her family had talked her into entering the Pierce County Fair talent competition. She won first place.

She went to work for the Prairie Village Museum, later took a job with the Rugby Job Development Authority, spent a year teaching fifth and sixth grade art at Leeds Elementary School, and took K-12 certification courses in visual arts at Minot State University.

"The visual arts have always been an important part of what I've done in my life," Jelsing says. She holds a bachelor's of fine arts degree in art and master's degrees in art education and art therapy, but her innate passion for songwriting, and the joy of writing, recording and performing has kept music at the forefront.

This past fall Jelsing taught a few music students at her Rugby music studio and decided it was time to complete the last details on "Comin' Home." The CD is out now, getting airplay and rave reviews.

On Aug. 14 audiences at the Prairie Village Museum's Village Fair will hear a couple selections from "Comin' Home," plus an eclectic mix of folk, blues and jazzy tunes.

It will be a farewell concert of sorts, as Jelsing is moving to the Twin Cities with her fianc, Carl Weimer. Weimer and Jelsing connected a year ago when they and other Rugby expats met to play their annual gig as the band Selective Memory.

"It really feels like I have come full circle," Jelsing says. "It feels like coming home was the best thing I could have ever done."

You can read more about "Anna O." and listen to samples of her music at her new website,



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