Famed for lavish shows with big orchestras, pianist and entertainer Lorie Line was getting ready to perform in Wisconsin in November 2012 when she got news that upended her meticulously constructed world: A sheriff's sale was scheduled on her 9,100-square-foot Italianate home on Lake Minnetonka.
She centered herself with a deeper-than-usual breath that evening, then walked onstage.
"It was so painful to hear and read that and to wonder what people would be whispering," Line said. "Then you had to go out there and be happy. But we pulled through."
"We leaned into our faith and simplified our lives," said husband/manager Tim Line. "We went without a lot of stuff and did a lot stuff ourselves. Lorie learned to ride a John Deere zero-turn mower. When the roof has a leak, I'm the guy. I like fixing stuff."
Life can give you a lot of stuff to fix, especially for someone working in an industry that's undergoing tectonic change.
"First the recession hit, and then the [music] industry changed overnight," Lorie said Tuesday as she gave a tour of the house. "We went from selling CDs at $15 a pop to downloads at one-one-thousandth of a penny for streaming music. Things fell off a cliff."
The Lines worked with their bankers. And they consolidated. The office space that they had? Poof. Their six employees? Sorry. Gardeners and house cleaners?
"We can do all of that ourselves," Tim said.
They retreated to the dream home that they built on 4 acres on a peninsula on Forest Lake Bay in Orono in 1996. It's a place of work and rest, of sustenance and light. The Lines collaborated with architect Blake Michael Bichanich to sketch out the house.
"It took a year and a half to design," Lorie said. "And we worked on every detail, from the terra-cotta tiles [on the roof] down to the doorknobs. And nearly everything you see is original, down to the paint."
The original paint job is impressive, given that they raised two kids there.
"This house was built around the piano," Line said as she sat down at her Yamaha concert grand, playing by ear along to a piece piped in from Pandora. Framed by Tuscan columns, it sits on a round stage.
She explained that she has been sponsored by Yamaha, and the piano was an orphan at the Ordway. The company told her to try it out over there.
"Most classical players prefer Steinway, but I loved it, so bright and airy," she said.
The piano has her name on it. And it's the same one that her fans would see in the concerts that she played all through the Midwest, her base.
"Tim and I and a couple of others pack it up, take the legs off, and off we go," Lorie said.
"It's tuned before every show — Tim's in charge of that." She looked over at him.
"Can't mess that up," he said.
A shrine to her gifts
The house is curated almost like a museum to her heritage and prodigious career. There are pictures of her grandparents, who had a band in the '40s, and of young Lorie Porter, who at age 9 won a 12-and-under piano competition in Reno, Nevada, where she grew up one of five girls. It was 1967 when she won that first competition, and it came with a $100 purse.
She subsequently won other competitions and saved enough from those winnings to buy a used car as a teenager. That taught her that the passion that she first showed in kindergarten was her true calling.
"I was 5 when my teacher told my parents, get her on the piano, she's got something," Lorie said.
The upstairs TV room that was used by her children, Kendall and Jackson, now 31 and 27, has been converted into a recording studio. Jackson's room, which has a canopy bed, is where musicians play her compositions, with microphones connected by cables to the studio.
There also is an upstairs laundry room.
"We were thinking ahead," Lorie said. "It's easier to bring the dishcloths up than take the laundry down."
Their four bedroom, six-bathroom house is full of curves, which allows for dawn-to-dusk light and sweeping views of the lake, especially from the owners' suite. The dimensions of the owners' bedroom match the circular stage, right below.
"We could have gone bigger but we didn't," Lorie said.
The mostly white decor of that bedroom looks like something out of a fairy tale. That's where she gets to dream music. Continuing the fairy tale motif, their master bath includes a slipper tub.
On the third floor is a cupola where they host parties, including a recent bridal shower for one of her singers.
Line had costumes made by Jack Edwards, the late Guthrie Theater designer and a neighbor. "He had an incredible imagination, and he saw me in things that I couldn't dream." Like stoles and furs, with the likeness of arctic foxes.
Their lower level includes a shared office space, a warehouse for her CDs and music books, and a wine cellar.
"It's never been full, and we're not fancy," Lorie said. "We get wine from Costco."
The lower level is also where Line displays five costumes at a time, some by Edwards. One of them she made herself.
The lower level has a wraparound porch, which the Lines enclosed. The lawn is meticulously manicured. Two male geese came up from the water to fight as they competed for a female looking on. "That's what they do," she said.
"And the deer drop their fawn over there," Tim said, pointing.
Perfect stage name
Back in the house, Tim tried to put himself in the background. "I'm Mr. Lorie Line," he said, smiling.
The couple met 36 years ago on a flight from Las Vegas to Reno. A native of Sioux Falls, S.D., he was living in Reno and had visited relatives in Las Vegas. She had flown to Vegas to watch her younger sister play in a volleyball tournament.
"I found out she was going to the University of Nevada-Reno for a degree in performance and my mind started wandering: What is this poor woman ever going to do with a degree in piano performance?" Tim said. "As the conversation went on, I found out she didn't have a boyfriend. And I didn't have a girlfriend. As the plane was coming in for a landing, she leaned over to her mother and said, 'That's the guy I'm gonna marry.' "
He didn't know anything about any of it. And they didn't exchange numbers in those pre-social media days. But a short time later, they ran into each other at an athletic club.
"She said, 'Hello, Tim.' I said, 'Hello, Mary.' I had forgotten her name," he recalled. "She mentioned that she had looked me up in the phone book and we were neighbors. I might be dumb but not stupid. So I asked her for her number."
Six months after they met, they married. "He gave me his heart and the perfect stage name," Lorie said.
Ready for anything
Her brush with world-upending hardship prepared them for the pandemic, Lorie said. They learned to adapt. When the pandemic hit, she had to cancel 33 concerts.
Still, she's eager to perform again. But what helped them pull through was a pivot to publishing music. When she cut back, she shed the big orchestras she would hire and began performing more intimate shows. She also ramped up publishing music books for piano. And, importantly, she got her music in streaming services. Pandora, she said, is her bread of life.
"I'm a big fan of trying new things, like contemporary Christian, which is huge," Line said. "There are all these small churches out there that need something for just piano," not full orchestra.
She's itching to be back on tour, even if that life is far less glamorous than it appears. She has lived out of suitcases for 32 years, save this last one. But all of that makes her life possible and also makes her appreciate her home.
"Every day I wake up, I pinch myself," Line said. "Blessed, so very blessed."