Kathleen is a hard-working musician, singer-songwriter living on Cape Cod. She draws from her experience of living and raising a family near the beach for many of her songs. Some say salt water runs through her veins. She writes from the heart and her honest lyrics and often poignant subject matter lend themselves to the unique quality of her voice. She admits to being a live music junkie, but is currently not seeking treatment for her addiction. Kathleen appears regionally in southern New England as a solo performer. She hosts open mic nights at local venues and thoroughly enjoys supporting the live music scene on Cape Cod and collaborating with other local musicians. When she is not performing or hosting, Kathleen can be found back on the road promoting her second studio album, Embracing the Journey, released in March of 2019. Her CD entitled Spark was released in June of 2014.
What is your earliest memory of music? And, how did you get started in music?
My earliest memory of music was at home. My dad listened to WGBH in Boston and it was always playing in our house. When I was 3, my dad rented part of his office building out to a young dance instructor named Maureen O'Reilled to be used as a dance studio, so to help her out, he enrolled my sister and I in dance lessons. I took ballet and tap at her studio Taps -n-Toes from age 3 - 6. My older brother and sister used to walk ahead of me in the morning on our way to school because I would skip along singing little songs I made up at a very early age. I guess my singing embarrassed them!
When our family moved to Cape Cod from Boston in the early 70's due to bussing, I continued to study ballet with Virginia Zango at Mid-Cape Ballet Academy until I was 14 years old. I studied piano and voice lessons with Marjorie Bennett Morely, founder of the Chatham Chorale, and I sang in my school chorus and vocal minority group under the direction of Patricia Anderson in the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District. I also studied acting and musical theater at the Harwich Junior Theatre from age 9 - 22. There was always music playing in our house when I was a child. My dad played guitar and sang folk and country songs as well as part of the Chatham Chorale.
What was the first song you ever wrote? What or who inspired you to start writing music?
The first song I ever wrote during this more adult leg of my journey was a song about my cat Alice. She was a sweet little stray cat whom I raised from a kitten when she was abandoned by her mother. Alice would sneak outside in our pretty rough neighborhood in north Philadelphia and she would always be hurt when she came home. I believe the song was called Alice's Lament.
My guitar teacher, at the time, Betsy Alexander, expected her students to write their own compositions. She both inspired me to do it and she gave me the confidence to try. She believed in me. I was a newlywed at the time, and my husband Bill plays guitar, drums, bass, and sings. He bought me my first guitar and he also encouraged me to write, and he still does!
Do you play any instruments? If yes tell us about it. If not, do you work with a band or studio musicians? Do you produce your tracks or work with a producer?
I play guitar and ukulele. Mostly I play solo, but when recorded my first studio album in Brewster, MA, the producer Tom Tracy introduced me to Randy Patterson, a great lead guitarist and mandolin player. Randy put down some great tracks on those early songs. Years later, while getting ready to go back into a different studio, Jon Evans' The Studio at Brick Hill in Orleans, MA, I brought Randy with me. He once again played some beautiful solos on my new songs. My husband Bill plays drums on both albums, and the three of us get together and gig out a few times per month under the name of Heyday.
What is your favorite part about being an artist (performing, recording, writing, playing)?
One of my favorite things about being a singer/songwriter/guitarist/performer is having the ability to share my work with an audience. I thrive on it. The biggest compliment a listener can give me is to tell me that something in my song touched them or spoke to them on some level.
I also love connecting with other women songwriters, and building each other up. I recently was invited to collaborate with three local women musicians to form a group called The Songbirds. We get together a few times per month to sing and play together, harmonize, and perform. Another passion of mine is networking with local musicians and inspiring other musicians to write their own songs. To this end, I host a monthly songwriter circle at a wonderful music house here on Cape Cod called O'Shea's Olde Inne. We write to a prompt, and it is always so amazing to hear what the various members of the circle come up with across all different genres on the same theme.
Of course all of these activities are on hold at the moment, due to the current crisis. Our April prompt is "Silver Lining." Our circle will likely be postponed until May or possibly even June. But when we finally are able to meet again, I can't wait to hear what everyone has come up with for this prompt. I have a few ideas starting to roll around.
Do you have any advice for young women pursuing music?
My advice for young women pursuing music is to definitely do it! Write songs, sing them, perform, co-write, and mentor others. And by all means, be kind. One of my all-time favorite quotes is by Malala Yousafza: "I raise up my voice – not so I can shout, but so those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back." I think women are in a unique position to empower other women, to see each other as allies and friends instead of as competitors.
For readers who have never heard your music, can you suggest one or two songs to start with?
I think one of the most important songs I have written to date is Speaking Out. I was inspired to write this song by reading the facebook posts of so many women, both friends and strangers, at the beginning of the Me Too movement. I also witnessed a young woman being intimidated by her boyfriend at a gig one time. It was happening right in front of me and I couldn't believe the audacity of this man to treat someone this way. And it frightened me to think if this is how he acts in public, how is he treating her when they are alone?
I took a break from my set and went in and told the wait staff what I was witnessing. The women who worked at the cafe were amazing. They came out to the table and asked the woman if she was okay and she said she was not, and they asked her if she wanted the man to go away and she said that she did, and they formed a barrier between her and the man and threatened to call police if he did not leave. It is an experience that left a lasting impression.
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