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Biography

" is really a vibrant talent. She is a welcome island of wit and charm in a sea of whining, instrospective cack!"
–Tim Readman, reviewer for Penguin Eggs

Kate Reid is a whip smart wordsmith with a knack for candid story-telling and songwriting that is charged with humour and social-political commentary. A straight shooter but definitely not straight, she is as charming as she is in-your-face and is one of the most original, incisive and entertaining songwriters to appear on the scene in a long time.

Raised on a farm in south central Ontario, Kate taught herself to play guitar when she was a teenager, using a chord book by The Eagles that was lying around the house and she learned harmonica by listening to Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold”. Other earlier influences included Bob Dylan and John Denver. Later on, she discovered Joni Mitchell’s album, ‘Blue’: “That album taught me how to use my voice. I think I listened to that album almost non-stop for a year when I was 22.” About the same time, she was discovering neo-folk activists/singer-songwriters Tracy Chapman, Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls and Ferron when something woke up inside of her. That was the music she had been waiting to hear her whole life. Kate recalls, “I couldn’t believe someone could sing a song like “Blood in the Boardroom” or “Girl on a Road” and I remember thinking ‘I want to do that.’”

Kate sings sometimes almost in spoken word style, musings about identity, love and queer life with an irreverent, often self-deprecating sense of humour. But best of all, you don’t have to be queer to get it. What makes her stand out from other confessional writers is that Kate turns personal experience and insight into songs that strike a universal chord in her listeners. The sold out crowds that are already standard fare in Kate’s hometown of Vancouver laugh and cheer mid-song in response to particularly choice lyrics and shout out to her between songs.

Whether she’s singing about shaving her legs to avoid being shot for wildlife by a redneck hunter in a small town or eagerly blurting out her phone number to a co-op cashier who is actually asking for her membership number, her material is as original and hysterically funny as can be. Be it garden variety insecurity, the fear of not fitting in or the insane things we sometime do for love and acceptance, Kate courageously unpacks the baggage most of us are too embarrassed to admit we have and leaves us laughing and rejoicing in our collective vulnerability, relieved that we are not the only one who feels this way.

Kate’s debut CD, Comin’ Alive, showcases the songs that have already made her a favourite of the Vancouver women’s music scene, earned her praise in the pages of various magazines, including the American lesbian glossy Curve, and garnered her a performance slot at the world-renowned Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. Highlights include “Small Town,” a queer country chart chomper about life in Midway, BC; “Co-op Girlz,” a torturous tale of unrequited love at a health food store in Nelson, BC; “I’d Go Straight for Ridley Bent,” a homo hymn about impossible love or at least, lust, for a local alt-country artist and “Starving Artist” where she laments, “How will I get on the radio when I cuss and swear and sing about loving women?”

Kate Reid is much more than a musical comedienne, however. Her music speaks to the soul. A survivor of a dysfunctional home, she writes songs that celebrate self-empowerment and healing. Yet she does so in a manner gloriously free of clichés, approaching these themes with the same disarming directness and lack of sentimentality with which she treats her humourous material. “Crone Woman,” speaks of aspiring to share the wisdom and self-assurance of a spiritual elder; “Bright Out Here” is an ode to awakening to possibility while “Heal Myself” is a bold piece about the struggle to heal oneself in the face of adversity and hardship. Like a lifeline, her lyrics touch the human spirit and remind her audience that they are not alone. For her, it does the same thing: “Music saved my life. It’s kind of ironic because I was going through a very dark period in my life when everything was falling apart. Then, I discovered this thing inside of me: the ability to write music. It felt like it was from another source. And then, I reached a place where I had no choice but to follow my heart and do music for a living. It was like I owed it to myself and to others to just go for it. When I perform, it is one of the times I feel truly alive.”

Kate’s latest release, “I’m Just Warming Up” is garnering her attention and praises from the folk music community. This collection of 10 songs includes “No More Missing Daughters”, a powerful piece on her reaction to the missing women of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside; “The Only Dyke at the Open Mic,” the story of an outing to an open mic night that goes hilariously awry; “Ex-Junkie Boyfriend,” in which a chance encounter at an intersection sets off an uproarious trip down memory lane; “Rise Up”, a somber ballad that recounts a journey of self-reflection after turning down an invite to collaborate with a musical mentor and “Uncharted Territory”, a response to a handful of people who said she sings too much about being a lesbian.

Taken together with her charismatic stage presence and comical banter between songs, she puts on a show that leaves audience members shedding tears of recognition one minute and rolling in the aisles with laughter the next. Says Kate, “People often tell me that my songs move them to tears and laughter and that’s when I know this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing.”

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