Biography

Born in Evanston, Illinois to a concert pianist mother and musical Dutch father, Kristin Lems learned to sing and play several instruments before settling on folk music. She achieved a national following in venues large and small during the 1970’s and 80’s, bringing her high energy and musical skills to social movements such as women’s rights, racial equality, peace, and ecology. The New Yorker called her “a charmer in the most literal and least artificial sense of the word.”

She shared the stage with many luminaries during the national campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment and other social causes, including two First Ladies, Captain Jacques Cousteau, Dan Fogelberg, the BoDeans, Pete Seeger, Michele Shocked, Gloria Steinem and many others.

While at University of Illinois, she founded the National Women’s Music Festival, now located in Madison, Wisconsin, and got to know many performers of women’s music. She briefly performed as a pianist on a Midwest tour by “Little Boxes” author Malvina Reynolds and they enjoyed a warm relationship.

Lems’ songs have gotten praise and attention, especially the satirical song “Mammary Glands,” spun regularly on Doctor Demento, The Most Annoying Music Show, and folk syndications. Her song “How Nice” (on In the Out Door, Carolsdatter Productions, 1979) may be the first documented song supporting gay marriage, according to Queer Music Heritage. Her country style song, Farmer, about the rights of farm women, was written up in an Ann Landers column, played on “Market to Market,” a farm syndication, and recorded by Butch Hancock. Her honky-tonk spoof about separation of church and state, “Days of the Theocracy,” has been recorded by Anne Feeney and Australian singer Margret Roadknight. Kristin’s songs have appeared in Broadside, Sing Out, Pulling our Own Strings, Here’s to the Women and the famed Rise up Singing, as well as several documentaries.

Discography: Lems has 6 full length CD releases: Oh Mama Plus!, Upbeat! (Carolsdatter), Sharing (a children’s CD/book, Carolsdatter), Equality Road (comprised of the LP’s In the Out Door and We Will Never Give Up, a live album, Carolsdatter), Born a Woman (Rounder) and Imagine That! Songs for Creative Teachers (Carolsdatter). She also appears on the 5 CD set The Best of Broadside (Smithsonian/Folkways), which was nominated for two Grammies in 2001, My Thoughts are Free (FFRF, with Dan Barker), Gay and Straight Together (Rounder), What Now People #2 and What Now People #3 (Paredon Records).

She recorded two songs in the Persian language, Gol e Yakh and Kashke (both on Equality Road) after learning Persian while teaching and singing in a band in Iran. She also sings in French and Spanish.

There is an artist page for Lems on Facebook as well as a website, kristinlems.com. Her tunes can be found at ITunes, Amazon, CD Baby, and her website, and Kristin Lems radio stations can be accessed at last.fm and pandora.

Edited by kristinsong on 6 May 2012, 04:57

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