Catie Curtis

Catie Curtis

 Newton Center, Massachusetts, USA
BandFolkSinger/Songwriter

Catie Curtis is a veteran of the singer/songwriter folk scene, touring throughout the US for 20 years and releasing 13 CDs. Her credits include touring with Lilith Fair, and winning Grand Prize in the 2006 International Songwriting Competition (with co-writer Mark Erelli) and recording a duet with Kris Kristofferson. Her songs appear in numerous films and tv shows. She has been called a "folk-rock goddess" by the New Yorker, and has performed at the White House several times.

Biography

Plenty of performers succumb to the temptation to cruise on autopilot two decades into their careers. That’s the safe and simple way to go, after all. But Catie Curtis, dubbed a “folk-rock goddess” by The New Yorker and treated as one by her loyal fans, is one veteran artist who has resolutely refused to coast along in comfort. Her 13th album, Flying Dream, is a work of both continuity and courage, capturing the way she’s embraced a season of heady change with the emotional intelligence that has been her songwriting signature.

While Curtis has most often composed solo—only occasionally co-writing with such respected peers as Beth Nielson Chapman, Mary Gauthier, Fred Wilhelm and Mark Erelli (a song she co-penned with the latter won Grand Prize in the 2006 International Songwriting Competition)—on her latest CD she took a chance on a start-to-finish collaboration with Sugarland co-founder and modern folk songwriting luminary Kristen Hall.

Gauthier introduced the two talents, and from there, says Curtis (a Maine native), “We discovered that we were very compatible in writing together. After we had a couple songs under our belts, I wanted to keep going.”

“We both care about what we're saying and the message we convey,” adds Hall. “When you're alone out there on a stage, it requires you stand behind your words, quite literally.”

The songs on Flying Dream are sure to connect with her audience and continue the conversation she’s been carrying on with them for nearly two decades. Curtis came to those co-writing sessions with a desire to articulate “some really universal experiences.” “What’s eerie,” she says, “is how much the songs ended up being true to my life.”

She’s always drawn emotionally honest art from her circumstances, sharing reflections on searching for love and finding it, on joining two lives together and—once Massachusetts extended the legal right—on marrying, on becoming adoptive parents and a myriad other experiences, and the autobiographical threads have enriched her work and endeared her to listeners. Because Curtis and her wife Liz are now separated after 17 years together, and their daughters are becoming more independent as they inch toward adolescence, and life just plain doesn’t look or feel the same as it once did, there were complex new corners of the human heart that begged to be explored in this song cycle.

Says Hall, “There’s a lot of bittersweet in it, which is my favorite flavor by a mile.” There’s a lot else in it too, every bit of it delivered in Curtis’s fetching, feathery timbre. Like songs illustrating the powerfully pleasing and painful pull that love can exert on a yielding heart (“Four Walls,” “Maybe Tomorrow,” Bacharach’s “This Girl’s In Love With You”, and the breathtaking “When You Find Love”). And songs that get at the soul-sick experience of sensing trouble in one’s relationship (“If I’m Right,” a song laced with artful wordplay, and “Orion,” which traces out a story of sibling betrayal from Greek mythology). It’s no accident that the album is bookended by songs that deal with choosing to not withdraw from life, but rather savor the simple, sensual and sacred surprises it brings (opening track “Flying Dream,” which has its origins in a trip to Guatemala to visit their adoptive daughters’ birth families, “Live Laugh Love,” an irrepressibly upbeat number that arrives midway through, and closing tune “The Voyager”).

“Sometimes things change in ways that you don’t expect,” Curtis reflects. “It can be really challenging and painful. But I think part of what’s in this record is this feeling of being authentic, going with the ride, going with the dream, and living passionately. I really tend to be resilient and want to look at things in a way where I’m trying to find the meaning in it, find what’s gonna work out about it. It may sound corny...but to me, that’s survival.”

However, as a former social worker, and a confessional folk-pop poet who absorbed the lessons of the politically agitating ‘60s folk revival, the acutely reflective ‘70s singer-songwriter movement and the solidarity of self-expression that was Lilith Fair in the ‘90s (which she played, by the way), Curtis is all about shared triumphs, shared stories and shared causes. She produces concerts in support of Voices United for Separation of Church and State, she got ordained by the Universal Life Church so that she could officiate at her fans’ same-sex weddings, and she writes and sings about joyful and jarring sensations alike from a posture of empathy.

“My goal is not just to reflect my own personal life, but to reflect back to people what happens in life, in their lives, in our world,” she says. “As we all know, sh#t happens.”

Wise words from a truly intrepid songwriter.


Lyrics

Life Goes On

Written By: Catie Curtis

words and music by Catie Curtis

Sometime in winter
Some things got broken
some mighty branches under the weight
But I saw the truth come
up in the garden
After the snow melted away

LIFE GOES ON
LIFE GOES ON
THE SWEETEST FLOWER WAITS ALL WINTER LONG
AFTER ALL THAT HAS GONE WRONG
LIFE GOES ON

I saw the angels crying rivers
Over what man will do to man
And I have seen vengeance celebrated
Like they just dont understand

LIFE GOES ON
LIFE GOES ON
THE ANGRY HEARTED ONLY PASS IT ON
AFTER ALL THAT HAS GONE WRONG
LIFE GOES ON

And in all your time here
What will you put in to the ground
Are you growing seeds of love or hatred
Cause its all gonna come around

THE SWEETEST FLOWER WAITS ALL WINTER LONG
LIFE GOES ON
AND THE SWEETEST JUSTICE
HOW WILL IT BE WON
NOT BY KILLING
KILLING EVEN ONE
CAUSE LIFE GOES ON
LIFE GOES ON

Discography

• Truth From Lies (EMI/Guardian, 1995)
• Catie Curtis (EMI/Guardian, 1997)
• A Crash Course In Roses (Rykodisc,1999)
• My Shirt Looks Good On You (Rykodisc, 2001)
• Acoustic Valentine (2003)
• From Years to Hours ... The Early Recordings (2003)
• Dreaming in Romance Languages (Vanguard, 2004)
• Long Night Moon (Compass, 2006)
• Sweet Life (Compass, 2008)
• Hello, Stranger (Compass, 2009)
• Stretch Limousine on Fire (Compass, 2011)
• A Catie Curtis Christmas (2012)