About Kate McGarry
âIâve always been drawn to the space of silence between the notes. Itâs in the silence that the secrets of songs reveal themselves.â? â Kate McGarry
Born into a large, musical family in Hyannis, Massachusetts, Kate began making music at an early age. She and her nine siblings would put on talent shows for their parents, playing and singing together at every opportunity. âWe befriended the musicians,â? says Kate. âWe would go as a family to hear them and sing along. Hearing live music as a child was as important to me as anything in my life. I never considered doing any other work than singing. To my family, music was one of the healing arts. It was just as good as being a doctor.â?
Kateâs early musical inspiration came in the form of the Beatles, the Mills Brothers, Earth Wind & Fire, and the Celtic music she would hear at the local Irish pub. But then she heard Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, and her lifeâs calling became obvious. âThe chord and harmonic structures were mysterious and beautifulâ¦It made so much sense to me.â? A degree in African American music and studies with Archie Shepp soon followed. Success came quickly after graduation, with a move to the West Coast bringing gigs with Clark Terry and Hank Jones at the Monterey Jazz Festival and regular hits at such venerated venues as Catalinaâs, the Jazz Bakery, and Le CafÃ©. In the vicinity of Hollywood, she also did some vocals for film and commercials, including tracks for Imax Films, the Sony Pictures release Caught and the title track for Boiling Point. But Kateâs spiritual nature and need to explore precipitated her next move back to the East Coast and a three year stint studying and teaching at an ashram in upstate New York.
Kateâs independently released 1992 debut recording, Easy To Love, an album of standards, earned her the attention of Music Magazine, who called her: ââ¦a strong improviser who shows taste and restraint worthy of the most mature jazz singer.â? But it was a move to New York City in 1999 that kick-started her singing and songwriting career. Her sophomore release Show Me (2001) was picked up by the lauded Palmetto label in 2003, earning her the distinction of being the first and only vocalist signed by the label. Her 2004 wedding to guitarist Keith Ganz inspired a change from an organ combo to a more roots-oriented, acoustic guitar-centric sound that perfectly combined Kateâs influences and inspirations. The resulting project Mercy Streets (Pametto, 2005) was hailed by All Music Guide as a release that âseamlessly combines music from many disparate sources into a cohesive, emotional experience (and) bridges the sonic chasm between folk-pop and jazz.â?
Throughout 2005, there was mounting evidence of Kate McGarryâs expanding palette. In addition to releasing Mercy Streets, she toured with acclaimed pianist Fred Hersch and master vocalist Kurt Elling, performing Herschâs song cycle, Leaves of Grass, a setting of Walt Whitmanâs poetry to music. The project earned Hersch a Guggenheim Award, and the ensemble performed âLeaves of Grassâ? to a sold out audience at Carnegie Hall in March 2005. Kate can also be seen on Chick Coreaâs 2005 DVD, Rendezvous, in an impromptu performance of âSmileâ? with Bobby McFerrin during Coreaâs 60th birthday celebration at the Blue Note. Also in 2005, Kate performed over 50 concerts of The Different Moods of the Blues as a Lincoln Center Institute touring artist. 2006 brought fruitful collaborations with Grammy Award winning composer and bandleader Maria Schneider and New Yorkâs Jazz Tap Ensemble and an appearance on Dee Dee Bridgewaterâs NPR show, Jazz Set.
With the release of 2007âs The Target, there was a sense that Kate had truly arrived. An NPR All Things Considered profile and New York Times review brought the magic of Kate McGarry to a whole new â and very receptive â audience. The record reached #1 on the national jazz charts.” Michael McCall of Nashville Scene raved: “McGarry embraces jazz’s freedom yet points the genre toward a future that’s as fresh and thrilling as its past.”
In September of 2007, Kate was invited to join the faculty of Manhattan School of Music. âMy challenge there has been to bring what I know and value about the jazz tradition to the education world,â? says Kate. âThe trick is to teach what you know and be who you are. Being your authentic self is the only way to go.â? Other current projects include singing with Grammy nominee Donny McCaslin, a guest spot (with Eartha Kitt and Jon Hendricks) on the hit childrenâsâ TV show Wonder Pets, and writing, recording and producing (with Ganz) 63 childrenâs songs for the Heinle Picture Dictionary For Children – an international ESL release. You can also catch Kate with vocal jazz super group MOSS, featuring her friends Peter Eldridge, Theo Bleckmann, Lauren Kinhan and Luciana Souza. If Less Is Moreâ¦Nothing Is Everything (2008, Palmetto) finds Kate in a joyful, albeit introspective mood, covering everything from Jobim to The Cars, with a few originals (including a tender e.e. cummings poem set to music) rounding out the project. âI feel like I am a teenager, graduating from high schoolâ¦just waking up…hatching. My experiences in life, my love of music and my spiritual pursuits are all converging, and the boundaries are fading away. Everything is coming together, and I am feeling very free.â?
Wherever Kate McGarry goes next, the words of JazzTimes are sure to follow:
âA bold, brave adventurer, McGarry has, by opting for the musical road less traveled, placed herself firmly on the road to ever-widening critical and popular success.â?