Songwriter Showcase: Kate Adams

Kate Adams’ honey dripped voice betrays a woman sharpened and hardened by heartache and long Chicago winters. Her songs are unapologetically simple: her voice is accompanied only by a guitar or ukulele and she avoids angular turns of melody and skittish rhythms. But through melancholy meditation, her songs achieve a gravity that can crush and suffocate.

Kate joins JC Brooks of JC Brooks & the Uptown SoundOdea and Isaiah Oby for our Songwriter Showcase Thursday, October 2, 2014, 7:00pm – 8:00pm at Columbia College's HAUS @ Quincy Wong Center (map). Facebook Event

Kate Adams

Kate Adams

Who were some of your earliest influences?

Kate Adams: Joni Mitchell, Jim Croce, Etta James, Kathleen Hanna, Loretta Lynn, Paul Simon, Jeff Buckley, Jeff Mangum, Fleetwood Mac

How has your songwriting changed over the years?

Kate Adams: I like to think it's improved or I've at least become more discerning about what gets played for audiences, but most of the change has come from experience, I've gone from very formulaic to forcing unnecessary complexity to, I hope, settling somewhere a bit more natural, being ok with my skill level as an instrumentalist (which is not huge) and letting that support the other skills that are stronger for me, in terms of vocals and lyrics.

What role has Chicago played in your music?

Kate Adams: Chicago pulled me into a big sweaty hug of a musical community almost immediately which was a wonderful change from my experience in New York.  I've been constantly inspired by fellow musicians and the organizers and audiences that support and challenge everyone, and I've developed a great love for Chicago for that reason among many others.  I've written a not-bitter break up song about New York, but until Chicago I had never written a love song to a city.

Do you have a process for starting a new song or combating writer's block?

Kate Adams: I've had a pretty good run lately and I think that's mostly been the result of just, as pompous and schmaltzy as this sounds, being open to the muse or whatever.  If I'm 80% asleep and I hear a tune in my head, I will keep myself there until I'm not hearing more and then wake myself up enough to reach over and record truly awful vocal approximations of whatever I'm hearing and then go back to it later.  I've also started leaving instruments on seating around my house, so if I sit down I've already picked up a guitar or dulcimer or whatever.

What song or songs do you want played at your funeral?

Kate Adams: Talking Heads, "Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place)"  and maybe Jim Croce's "I Got A Name."

Check out more on Kate at the CHIRP Radio blog