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Catie Curtis


Performance Formats: solo, other formats

Catie Curtis Photo
Catie Curtis
spirited songwriting that embraces our collective honest truths

“Have you ever been to a show where you feel an invisible wall between you and the performer? Catie Curtis pulls the walls down.”
— Mary Chapin Carpenter

“Catie makes audiences feel like they’re part of the show. She doesn’t perform at you, she performs for you. Our audiences just adore her.”
— Matt Smith, Manager, Club Passim, Cambridge, MA

Catie Curtis' list of accomplishments spans 14 albums, songs featured on TV shows Grey’s Anatomy, Dawson’s Creek, and Felicity; and movies like Finding Graceland and A Slipping Down Life. For over 25 years, she has been a perennially popular headliner, appearing at Lilith Fair, Carnegie Hall, performing arts centers, concert halls, folk clubs, music festivals and the White House! She was even dubbed a “folk rock goddess” by The New Yorker.

Catie’s career has been a marvel – a hopscotch of serendipity, small-town roots, and the search for honest stories. She seeks the everyday details that let you see your own life in her songs: headlights crossing a bedroom wall; finding love in your dad’s heart; and the falling-in-love moment of “The Kiss That Counted.”

Catie’s newest album speaks in that familiar, frank and reassuring voice about life events everyone encounters: love, loss, and the search for redemption. While We’re Here rides the wave of tumultuous life transitions (divorce, death and falling in love) with clear-eyed courage and soulfulness. As the title cut says, “we could all die tomorrow, I’m not gonna live in fear, don’t ever stop giving living a shot, while we’re here.”

Around the country, people tell Curtis that her songs are like companions, soundtracks for their lives. In her ‘90s gay-rights classic, “Radical, she sings, “I’m not being radical when I kiss you/ and I don’t love you to make a point.” The intimacy with which she has expressed her gay identity has helped others through their own difficult journey to authenticity, whether related to sexuality or simply accepting oneself whole-heartedly. “To me, a song is like a conversation with a friend,” she says. “There’s always a lot of ‘Yeah, yeah, me, too.’ There’s a kind of voice you use when you talk to someone you’re comfortable with. That’s the voice I look for in my songs.”

For While We’re Here, Curtis recorded the basic tracks live in the studio with Julie Wolf (Ani Difranco, Bruce Cockburn) on piano, Jon Evans (Sarah McLachlin, Tori Amos) on bass and drummer Matthew Bossi in Jamaica Plain, MA. “There’s nothing better than getting in the zone with some great players and discovering what can happen,” says Curtis who also invited Jimmy Ryan (mandolin), Duke Levine (guitar), Jefferson Hammer (guitar), Jaime Edwards (keys), Elana Arian (fiddle) and singers Ben Demerath and Rose Polenzani to round out the sound.

Catie looks forward to hitting the road with this new recording. She has announced that this will be her last tour, dubbing it “The Final Outing.” She will take one last road trip across the USA and beyond in 2017. While the concert stage has sustained her long career, Catie is finally giving in to her nesting instinct, saying “The themes of While We’re Here involve endings and beginnings, change and resilience. After 25 years on the road I am ready for my own new beginning.”

While We’re Here is about living in the present,” says Catie. “While recording the album, the theme of life choices kept coming up. That life is short is something that resonates deeply with me, and I started to take notice of the things I truly loved.” Connecting with people one-on-one has always been the most meaningful aspect of touring, and Catie intends to continue that part of her work. “While I won’t be traveling to everyone out there, I am inviting everyone out there to come to me! I will be producing creativity retreats where all are welcome. I will also perform shows online and connect by posting and blogging.” Catie will also continue to record new music and play private events and benefit concerts.

To reassure everyone, “I’m healthy and happy!” says Catie. After a long and full touring career, and now with so many innovative ways to reach an audience, it is a great time to keep her feet on the ground and work at some of these new approaches. The thought has become liberating, that “I don’t have to tour in order to live a creative life. I realized as I was singing about choices on While We’re Here, I also have a choice.”

Workshops, Master Classes, and Residency Activities
Catie Curtis is an experienced and engaging workshop leader. She teaches a variety of topics, including:

Oopsy to Artsy:
Our mistakes can lead to the best art!  Sometimes we stumble when using a common expression, and the mistake is more fresh sounding than the original. Similarly, when we stumble as humans, we often have a more interesting story to tell than when things go as planned.  Develop your capacity for creativity through playfulness, not perfectionism. We’ll encourage the serendipitous juxtaposition of descriptive words to trigger unexpected images. Learn to stumble backwards in to creative songwriting by noticing the sights and sounds in front of you.  Gradually, we'll take these ideas and make meaningful songs out of the metaphors they provide, by connecting the images to a central theme.  The goal is to spark the imagination and transcend cliché.

What's Your Story?
Every person has a unique path, and therefore, unique stories to tell.  What's your story?  How do you make it compelling to other people?  We will look at elements of effective personal songwriting such as: a strong personal voice, a good story, universal themes, and the right musical composition.  You will be asked to refer to your favorite personal songs by other writers and we will dissect them to see what makes them work.  You will do some in-class writing and sharing in a supportive environment, toward the goal of finding the words and music to turn your own life journey in to art.

updated: 6 months ago