Kate McDonnell
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Kate McDonnell

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Press


"Harp Magazine"

McDonnell's voice is both delicate and powerful. As a writer she is more precocious than precious than pretentious. McDonnell scores more than a few winning turns of phrase and rarely settles for the easy rhyme…. It's hard to imagine an eclectic original like herself being pushed in a direction she doesn't want to go. Things sound pretty good where she is.— - March 2005


"Pop Matters"

…The result is a lovely offering that isn't quite the coffeehouse folk you might anticipate, but isn't the slick, pre-packaged folk-pop that is saturating the market today either. …might bring to mind Paula Cole or other Lilith Fair fodder…would fit somewhere between Sheryl Crow and Edie Brickell….almost spine-tingling at times…sounds a bit like Lucinda Williams's "Essence" …This is a record that is another step on what will continue to be a stairwell to critical acclaim - April 2005


"Fish Records Reviews (UK)"

Where the Mangoes Are’ is an understated and considered disc, it’s full of excellent performances (especially the vocals), and the songwriting is superb throughout. One of the best contemporary folk albums around – very highly recommended. - March 2005


"Village Voice"

Singer-songwriter-guitarist McDonnell doesn't seem to fear the label of being a folk artist. Promoting her third CD Don't Get Me
Started, you get the feeling you may see others covering her tunes in thefuture, as she is a gifted writer in this genre.
- Village Voice


"Sing Out!"

Kate McDonnell is on the basis of this self-produced solo debut, fast becoming a staple of North American Folk radio. She is a strong vocalist and guitarist, which she plays upside-down-and-backwards, and an outstanding ability to write excellent first-person songs. - Mike Regenstreif


"Hartford Courant"

"[one] of the most prominent new releases by local artists. . . sharply designed, professional looking and able to compete out there in the brave new marketplace. . . impressive. . . a virtuoso work, from the guitar playing to her soaring voice and keenly observed songs - Roger Catlin


"Boston Globe"

Powerful on her own. . .arrangements are
centered on McDonnnell's soaring soprano
vocals, expressive acoustic guitar fingerpicking, and the rhythmic accompaniment. . .With her poetic songs. . . she shares that life with an unforgetable impact - Craig Harris


"Sing Out!"

Superb craftsmanship. You immediately know there's something there, you feel something happening on this recording, and when it clicks, which it frequently does, you know it. . . a step away from the ordinary - Rich Warren


"Acoustic Guitar Magazine"

Polished and subtle musicianship to bluegrass, swing tunes, and classic singer-songwriter fare.. her guitar is rhythmically solid, fleet, and energetic. . . . Best of all, McDonnell's voice has a sweet patina that compliments her stylized yet unaffected delivery and stays fresh throughout the whole CD - Rani Arbo


""Froots" Folk Roots (UK)"

Kate's skill with the six stringed beast is awesome. . . McDonnell's album is another fine addition to a catalogue that is truly one of America's best kept secrets [Waterbug Records - Arthur Wood


Discography

2005 Where the Mangoes Are--Appleseed Recordings
2001 Don't Get Me Started --Brambus Records (Switzerland) and Dog-Eared Discs 002
(listen) http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/katemcd

1998 NEXT--Waterbug Records #0038
(listen) http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/katemcd3

1994 Broken Bones--Waterbug Records #0020 (listen) http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/katemcd2

Photos

Bio

"McDonnell's voice is both delicate and powerful. As a writer she is more precocious than precious than pretentious. McDonnell scores more than a few winning turns of phrase and rarely settles for the easy rhyme…. It's hard to imagine an eclectic original like herself being pushed in a direction she doesn't want to go. Things sound pretty good where she is."—Harp Magazine

"…The result is a lovely offering that isn't quite the coffeehouse folk you might anticipate, but isn't the slick, pre-packaged folk-pop that is saturating the market today either. …might bring to mind Paula Cole or other Lilith Fair fodder…would fit somewhere between Sheryl Crow and Edie Brickell….almost spine-tingling at times…sounds a bit like Lucinda Williams's "Essence" …This is a record that is another step on what will continue to be a stairwell to critical acclaim. "--Pop Matters reviews

2005 marks the release of Kate's 4th solo CD on Appleseed Recordings (home to Tom Paxton, Donovan, Roger McGuinn, etc.), entitled "Where the Mangoes Are." The CD jumped to #2 in the FolkDJ charts for the month of January (before its release in February) and has stayed in the top 10 ever since). Many of the new songs, penned by Kate and her co-writer Anne Lindley, have won numerous honors and awards over the past few years:

2004: First-place win at the Susquehana Songwriting Contest with "Mercy" and "Softhearted Girl"
2004: First-place win at Plowshares Songwriting Competition with "Mercy" and "Softhearted Girl"
2003: Finalist, Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest, with "Lemon Marmalade" 2002: First-place win at the Mountain Stage NewSong Festival songwriting competition with "Go Down Moses", and subsequent appearances on the international radio broadcast of Mountain Stage

...and Kate has had a few very special performance opportunities:
2001: Performance at the Newport Folk Festival
1999: Performances on WXPN's World Cafe and at the Kennedy Center

Kate tours regularly in Europe and the U.S. and gets a healthy dose of airplay on folk and Americana radio formats. Whether her theme is love, politics or dogs, her songs unravel the human heart and strip the pretenses off the world we live in.

Kate McDonnell’s introduction to folk music was conventional, if precocious – as a four-year-old, she heard a Joan Baez album in her mother’s collection. Her reaction was somewhat less conventional: she picked up her mom’s guitar, taller than she was, and started to teach herself how to play the instrument, strung for a righthanded player, lefthanded – “upside down and backwards,” using her stronger right hand for chording and ignoring the customary positioning of the guitar strings.
Armed with her unusual guitar style and crystalline soprano voice, Kate teamed with her twin sister to perform as “Katie and Anne McDonnell” around their Baltimore hometown during their high school and college years. After a four-year sabbatical from performance in the mid-’80s, during which time she moved to New Haven, CT, and worked at editing and AIDS social service jobs, Kate returned to music by partnering with guitarist Freddie Tane, at one time a member of Bill Haley’s Comets. McDonnell-Tane cut two self-released albums in their 3-1/2-year career and opened shows for touring stars such as Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Judy Collins, Arlo Guthrie, Leo Kottke, and Kathy Mattea. Kate also found time to join an all-female trio, Colossal Olive, which gigged in the New Haven area.

In 1989, Kate started writing her own songs and, not coincidentally, began racking up serious critical recognition in the early ’90s, when she was named a New Folk Finalist at the wellknown Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas and a finalist at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Showcase in New York State. In 1992, she released her self-produced debut album, Broken Bones, on her own Dog-Eared Discs label (reissued by Waterbug in 1994) and was voted the #1 singer-songwriter in New Haven in the New Haven Advocate’s poll. The CD was praised in prestigious folk periodicals – Sing Out! called her a “strong vocalist and guitarist [with an] outstanding ability to write excellent first-person songs,” and Dirty Linen described Broken Bones as “a striking showcase for her skills as a songwriter and performer” and called Kate’s voice “flexible, adventurous and moving” and her songs alternately “playful . . . and profoundly moving.”

More gigging, acclaim, and recordings were to follow. Kate’s first of seven European tours to date came in 1998, coinciding with the release of her second album, the appropriately titled Next, on Waterbug. Folk radio airplay and fellow musicians helped spread her name: Jonathan Edwards called her “one of the premier female solo acoustic acts around,” and Bill Staines dubbed her “one of the finest writers and performers I’ve heard in a long time.”

In 1999, Kate appeared on the internationally syndicated “World Cafe” radio show and performed at the Kennedy Center