(Toronto, ON) -- The new album from young African-Canadian roots phenom Kaia Kater couldn’t come at a better time. As a new generation takes the reins, American roots music is needed more than ever to remind us of the troubled pathways of our own history. Born of African-Caribbean descent in Québec, Kaia Kater grew up between two worlds: one her family’s deep ties to Canadian folk music in her Toronto home; the other the years she spent learning and studying Appalachian music in West Virginia. Her acclaimed debut album touched on this divide, but her new album, Nine Pin (set for release May 13, 2016), delves even further, and casts an unflinching eye at the realities faced by people of colour in North America every day. Her songs on the new album are fueled by her rich low tenor vocals, jazz-influenced instrumentation, and beautifully understated banjo, and they’ve got as much in common with Kendrick Lamar right now as they do with Pete Seeger.
Nine Pin is already garnering critical acclaim, having received praise from outlets such as Rolling Stone, CBC Musicand The Roots Music Report. Recorded in just one day in Toronto, the album was produced by both Kater and acclaimed Canadian Chris Bartos (The Barr Brothers, Jonathan Byrd, Sarah Harmer), who also produced her last album, Sorrow Bound (2014). Few artists could pull off such a polished, cohesive album in one day, but Kater felt that this actually lent focus to the project. As a concept album, Nine Pin weaves between hard-hitting songs that touch on modern issues like the Black Lives Matter movement (“Rising Down,” “Paradise Fell”) and more personal narratives speaking to life and love in the digital age (“Saint Elizabeth”, featuring Joey Landreth of The Bros. Landreth). And while these larger stories are deftly crafted, this is really an album of moments. Kater’s a cappella voice speaking to the loneliness of a city in “Harlem’s Little Blackbird” while solo dance steps echo in the background, the muted hesitancy of Caleb Hamilton’s trumpet breaking the trance of “Little Pink,” the smoke of electric guitar that cuts through “Saint Elizabeth,” the wave-like ebb and flow of piano behind the plaintive love poem “Viper’s Nest…” All of these moments point to an artist wise beyond her years, and one who is crafting a new voice on the Canadian musical landscape.
If elements of Toni Morrison seem strong in Kater’s lyrics, that’s no accident. As Kater explains: “Toni Morrison once said: ‘If there's a book you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.’ I tried to understand those words for a long time. I pored through her novels at 15, and again at 18 as I arrived in the steep hills of West Virginia from Canada. I read her novels at 20 on a series of small buses headed through the mountains of Matagalpa, Nicaragua. Music and poetry are the languages I speak. Any time I travel, words come walking back with me. They have souls and histories. They create me and I create them.” Nine Pin may be the opening chapter of Kaia Kater’s book, as Morrison would say, and in writing her own story, Kater speaks powerfully not only to her heritage, but to her vision of what this music can mean to a new generation.
Sunday, June 12, 2016 Burdock Toronto, ON - CD release
Saturday, June 18, 2016 The Black Sheep Inn Wakefield, QC - CD release
August 12-14, 2016 Kingsville Folk Festival Kingsville, ON - Festival performance
August 18-20, 2016 Philadelphia Folk Festival Philadelphia, PA - Festival performance
>> More Dates TBA <<
ABOUT KAIA KATER:
Few are more conscious in their journey through Appalachian histories and the Canadian musical landscape than Kaia. Born in Montreal, Kaia has lived Winnipeg, Wakefield and, most recently, West Virginia – she now resides in Toronto. Her old-time banjo-picking skills, deft arrangements, and songwriting abilities have landed her in the spotlight in North America and the UK, garnering critical acclaim from Rolling Stone, CBC Music and The Roots Music Report. Often praised for her capacity to sound ‘new’ and ‘old’ at the same time, Kaia anchors her music the space where tradition and innovation intersect
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