Featured Artist of the Month
February 2022 - Kaitlin Rose
About Kaitlin Rose
Kaitlin Rose was chosen as one of the Top 10 Bands to Watch (and listen to) in the 2019 annual music issue of Michigan based Revue Magazine. She hasn’t stopped there.
I first became aware of her at a LowellArts songwriters performance a few years back. Listening to Kaitlin play and sing felt like such a gift to me. Her incredibly beautiful voice, so vulnerable, and the lyrics. How had I not come across her before? I was so thankful I was there in the audience and reminded once again of how music can resonate with me, opening something up and allowing me to just be at the same time.
Kaitlin grew up in Delton, Michigan and continues to live in the Kalamazoo area. She describes herself as “someone who has been writing songs in southwest Michigan for 20 years, beginning in 2001 when I taught myself how to play guitar. Nearly 21 years later, I am still writing. I have a wonderful band, (The Band of Thorns, many of which have been with me for over 5 years now) and am a mother of three beautiful children. Yes indeed, my life is quite busy and full.” She continues, “During the day, I work as a postpartum doula for an organization called Birth Kalamazoo… My biggest goal is striving to find balance in life as a working artist and a mother, the challenge I openly discuss in my song, Bad Mother.”
As I connected with Kaitlin for this article, right from the start she spoke of the importance of songwriting to who she is. “I wrote in a diary and journal for many years”, Kaitlin shared. “If my journal wasn't around when I felt inspired, I would grab anything - an old receipt, scrap paper, a napkin… my style of songwriting inspiration comes in flashes.”
She spoke about her songwriting process. “I generally hear a combination of a melody, cadence and sentence all together at around the same time. I write words first, paying attention to the rhythm of the melody I am hearing while I write the lines. Once I pick up my guitar, I search for the chords to match the melody. Sometimes the chords I find change things, other times I find the chords that match right away, as if they were there waiting for my hands. I trust what feels right. I view the whole process with a whole lot of reverence - it seems that most of the time, it's my job to step out of the way, (or should I say into the way?) - I simply have to stop whatever else I am doing, be present and provide the space and work with the muse to get the song out of me. The process of songwriting is magical. Holy, if that's your language for the phenomenal.”
Kaitlin is a true story teller. Her lyrics offer up the space for human connection that both brings joy and gets us through painful times. The opportunity is there in her songs. You hear it in the lines of The Drifter…
And it’s a sweet, bittersweet journey | when you don’t know exactly where to go. | But somewhere out there, there's’ a shadow | Of a place that will welcome you home.
“I can say now that my main goal is twofold: to stay true to myself and my story and also be aware of making that story relatable to others. No one wants to hear your journal entry, they want to hear THEIR journal entry.” Kaitlin admits, “I didn't say that, a famous writer did, and I think of that advice often. Combine the outline of your story and let your audience fill in the gaps... When songwriters get all of the elements right, a song comes wide reaching and timeless. That is something I aspire to.” I think she’s found success.
Up until the time her band formed, she shared, “I had been performing songs I had written by myself, and released several solo CDs before my first full band album.” She was referring to The Other Side, released in 2015. “That project was 100% a deep feeling, exposed and vulnerable break-up album, as I parted from my children's father in 2014. After The Other Side, we recorded Live Enough, live with an in-studio audience at Overneath Collective in Kalamazoo, released in 2019.”
Kaitlin continues to perform both solo and with the band. She describes it this way. “My spirit seems to get too stagnant if I choose one or the other. Performing each way is so different from the other and I love that. Both are thrilling.”
The Band of Thorns is guitarist Jim Beebe, bassist Greg Orr, drummer Ryan Demeniuk, keyboards/backup vocalist Bob Wallis, backup vocalists Traci Seuss and Patti McNulty and special recurring guest saxophone, flute, aux percussion Aaron Stinson. This group, clearly dedicated to music, has folks involved at the Jazz and Creative Institute, Crescendo Academy of Music, and the Kalamazoo Academy of Rock. They come with a full history of performing both locally and nationally with lots of blues and jazz experience. When they play together as The Band of Thorns, the music is “serving up Original Americana.”
The band is looking forward to their upcoming recording, with a release sometime this summer. Kaitlin explains, “the release will likely look like a slow and steady drip of half of the songs on the album as singles, leading up to the full release… The imagery and feel of the album will reach from viney roses all the way up to outer space.”
Presently they are deciding which songs will be part of the recording. “It's hard because we have so many songs to choose from! Some would say that's a good problem to have, and yes, I suppose… but picking songs to include is almost like asking which child is my favorite,” Kaitlin shared. “I love them all for different reasons! That said, we're getting close… I will say we're resurrecting a couple of my personal favorites from The Other Side to include on this new project… We’re working with a couple of really talented producers on shaping up this album to be our best yet, showcasing some fan favorites in a fresh new light. There will also be a few new songs on the album, too!”
Kaitlin Rose and The Band of Thorns are the real thing. So good and they’re right here in Michigan! Take a listen to their music at kaitlinrose.bandcamp.com. Listening to their Live Enough album, I was impressed by the variety. Each track is interesting and fresh. You'll be struck by the skill with which they offer “Enough,” a bluesy, soulful number, and the lovely “Ode to Ease” which has more of a folk sound. Turn around and you’ll hear a track with a fun, upbeat, country sound. Their music can’t be pigeon-holed. It seems that whatever they try comes out interesting, rich, and such a pleasure to listen to. What is consistent is the band's skill and Kaitlin’s rich, beautiful voice. You’ll be struck by how well they do what they do.