Biography - Songwriter and Fiddler
Photos ~ Jeanette Bonnell
Kate MacLeod’s musical roots are firmly planted in Americana folk, but are colored by her expertise in Celtic, Bluegrass, Classical, and Eastern European genres. In 2018, Kate celebrated 50 years of playing the violin. Kate has gradually built a performing career since her first recording, Trying to Get It Right, released in 1995 and produced by the late Charles Sawtelle of Hot Rize. But before ever recording that first CD, Kate’s original songs were being shared and recorded by other musicians throughout her region.
Since then they’ve been recorded by other artists from California to the Czech Republic. Kate has toured in the United States, Canada, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, and the UK. She has been chosen for the Best of the West Award, 2019, by the Far-West division of the International Folk Alliance, for which she will be awarded during the organization's October conference in Woodland, CA.
Her voice is said to sound "as pure as water from a mountain stream." She performs her music with guitar, violin and harmonica and has studied many styles of ethnic violin in addition to extensive classical training from where she has developed a unique expression with her fiddle playing. Kate has been compared to many influential artists of her genre including Joni Mitchell, Nanci Griffith, Richard Thompson and Emmylou Harris. Since her first recording release, her songs have been covered by Folk, Celtic, Bluegrass and roots music genres including artists such as Mollie O'Brien, Laurie Lewis, Andrew Calhoun, One Shilling Short, Loose Ties, Rose Laughlin, and many others. Something Left You Living, a song from her Blooming recording, was featured on NPR's song showcase "What's in a Song." Kate's songs have been featured on nationally syndicated radio shows including Tom May's “River City Folk,” the holiday program hosted by Judy Collins, “Peace on Earth,” and were sung by others on “A Prairie Home Companion.” You will find fans of many music genres in an audience gathered to hear Kate MacLeod perform as her songs catch the ears of new artists, traditional singers, bluegrass musicians, Celtic musicians and songwriters of many styles.
Kate's music compels publications such as Sing Out! Magazine to claim that she "channels the spirit of the great Carter Family classics." She's opened for artists such as Rosanne Cash, Dan Fogelberg, Greg Brown, and has worked with some of the greats in acoustic music such as Charles Sawtelle and Tim O'Brien.
Her songwriting style and live performances display an unbreakable link between traditional music and cutting-edge contemporary songwriting. Whether in a song or on her violin, she captures our history, landscapes, and our lives in the varied music that she creates. Some of Kate's works have been commissioned for cultural projects.
Kate's musicianship has been featured in a number of documentaries aired on PBS stations including My Canyonlands: Kent Frost, We Sagebrush Folks, and Zion Canyon Song Cycle..
Kate was recipient of the 2018 Minnie Jane Artist-in-Resident Scholarship from Pendle Hill Quaker Study and Retreat Center, completing a three-month residency during which she composed a collection of
peace-motivating and inspirational music titled A Harmonious Sound.
She has twice been Artist-in-Resident for The Entrada Institute, an environmental and arts organization based in Southern Utah. Her residence with the organization led to a large repertoire of music based on the Western desert and history.
Kate supports other artists by helping with production. Kate donated her production services and time to the 2011 U. Utah Phillips commemorative CD, Long Gone. It features Phillips’ songs, recorded by musicians in the Utah region who had been influenced by, and even had been taught music by U. Utah Phillips. The project was organized by his son Duncan Phillips who is the mastermind behind Phillips’ archives; The Long Memory Project.
Kate donated three years of volunteer service to the Innocence Project, where she united musicians for playing and performing music. Some of the musicians that she aided had spent as many as 28 years in prison, due to wrongful convictions.
Kate regularly donates her time and music to activist organizations working for peace and social justice concerns, this has included Adopt-a-Future, Pandos (Peaceful Advocates for Native Dialogue and Organizing Support), the Utah Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and The Entrada Institute. She regularly plays for the Heart and Soul organization of Utah, an organization that brings musicians into hospitals, convalescent centers, and schools.
She performs and has collaborated on recordings with musicians such as songwriter and traditional folk singer Kat Eggleston, Cowboy, Bluegrass and Celtic music specialist Skip Gorman, composer Phillip Bimstein, and with pianist Robin Spielberg in her American Tapestry trio.
In addition to her performing, she teaches songwriting and fiddle workshops in schools, concert outreach programs, summer camps and at music festivals. She is a sought after vocalist, fiddler and guitar player, working regularly with other artists. Kate has taught songwriting workshops through the annual IAMA/Utah Arts Festival's Songwriters Academy with Christine Lavin, John Gorka, Guy Davis, John McCutcheon, and many other notable songwriters.
Discover the information through the links below...
"Despite the overly commercial and complicated world we live in, I've learned that music does make a difference in people's lives."
Kate has been repeatedly voted in her region by the Intermountain Acoustic Music Association as
"Best Songwriter" and "Best Fiddler."
One of my favorite songs, that I sing to myself, is... Keep On The Sunny Side Of Life.
I highly recommend this song for everyday use.
It works especially well in the car.
Kate with Tim O'Brien at the OFOAM Festival, 2013
This photo from the archives is of Kate MacLeod singing one of her songs with Peter Rowan and Charles Sawtelle at the Deer Valley Folk and Bluegrass Festival. Peter Rowan sang harmony on the recording Constant Emotion, and Charles Sawtelle produced two MacLeod recordings before he passed away. Charles is greatly missed for his exceptional guitar playing and his endless sense of humor.
This photo from the archives is of Kate MacLeod during one of her first violin lessons, taken by her violin teacher, who was one of the first female musicians to be hired by the National Symphony in Washington, DC.