I’m Kate Callahan. I've always had a light in me when it comes to songwriting and singing. It makes every experience with my audiences unique. I get to say that playing music is my job. But what most people don’t know is that my job helps people feel love no matter how their day has been. When my music and my heart are working together, I express myself in ways I couldn't have predicted, with words I haven't prepared. This is when I feel closest to my uninhibited nature. Then the chance exists for my heart to intimately transform an ordinary concert moment into something extraordinary for people to feel and pass on to those around them.
Today, I’d have to say I am at my best giving concerts; this is one constant in my life. My career has given me the opportunity to serve something greater while being true to myself. As a folk singer, I can’t think of a better way to serve a greater purpose than by being Connecticut’s State Troubadour. Since my appointment in March 2016, I’ve performed music throughout all four corners of the state, meeting venue owners, radio DJs, public access crews, and other folk singers all making efforts to awaken communities with music and messages of equality, solidarity and justice.
As former State Troubadour, I have been most humbled to work with women inmates at York Correctional Institution last spring. Thanks to a grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, my Vocal Empowerment pilot program served to remind women who’ve been incarcerated that their voices can still have a positive impact on their lives.
Empowering the voice is personal to me. Twenty years ago, I suffered a brain injury in a ski accident and found that I couldn’t sing anymore. I didn’t understand that I could open my mouth and make melodies. Giving up on my voice, I decided to try and learn to play the guitar. I thought it would be impossible, but my teacher Jamie Sherwood treated me like every one of his other students. Over time not only did I become skilled at the guitar but I also got my singing voice back. It felt like a miracle. All of these years later, I love to help others develop a relationship with their voices, like I did. My Vocal Empowerment Coaching Business is called Affirming Voice, LLC and serves those who wish to speak or sing in a bigger capacity.
I also love to use my voice to tell stories and weave anecdotes about the healing power of music throughout my concerts. I’ve learned from some of the best, having shared stages with songwriter legends Judy Collins, Noel Paul Stookey (Peter, Paul & Mary), Aztec Two Step, John Gorka, Claudia Schmidt, Mustard’s Retreat, and the late Bill Morrissey.
I’ve come to understand over the years that my voice can help me and others experience the mystery of life. When something feels soulful to me, I say it or sing it or write it. WNPR host Colin McEnroe praised a performance of mine, saying, “Kate Callahan is the only performer I’ve ever seen who occasionally seems to be channeling something vaster and far more ancient than herself, something more easily understood by Emerson than by any modern person.”
Colin McEnroe’s quote moved me to tears (and chills) when I read it five years ago. Yet it’s taken me all this time to understand who I am and how I want to help here through my music. Lastly, for the record, I’m kind of peculiar, wired for long naps, and deeply curious about the impulses that move humans to love—ourselves and each other.