Catie Curtis

Biography

2014 Flying Dream Bio

Flying Dream  

Catie Curtis

Flying Dream

(February 25 - Catie Curtis Records)

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)—this time around 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.”

Curtis placed her trust in Hall’s instincts as a producer, and with some of the finest players Boston

has to offer: drummer Jim Gwin (of the Boston Pops Orchestra), Jamie Edwards (keyboardist for

Aimee Mann), bassist Richard Gates and multi-instrumentalist Duke Levine, who’ve logged

sessions with the likes of Suzanne Vega and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Together, they crafted a

lustrous long player with subtle jazz, electronic and AM pop shadings. Hall calls it her “happiest

in-studio experience; a very relaxed and creative

atmosphere with super-talented people.”

It sounds like Curtis to be sure—with her tunefulness and casual elegance intact—but it also

sounds unlike anything else in her catalog. So it’s only fitting that she’s releasing it through her

own, newly formed, thoroughly independent, Catie Curtis Records.

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. She wrote two alone, six with Hall, and

covers one that Hall had in her back pocket, and another unexpected, trip-hop-leaning version of a

Burt Bacharach classic (an adventurous idea of Hall’s). 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.”

It’s never only Curtis’s own stories that she’s telling—clear, accessible communicator that she

is—except when it comes to a song titled “The Queen” (as in, Latifah). Curtis has received several

invitations to perform at the White House, which is certainly no culturally insignificant gig. On one

occasion she was to share the bill with Latifah at an inaugural ball, but the iconic hip-hop artist

failed to show.

“As a folksinger, everything’s about self-deprecation and humility,” says Curtis with a chuckle.

“That night I felt this fun sense of, ‘I’ve earned this place, taking the queen’s place for the

inaugural ball.’ I think part of it’s just being comfortable taking up space. Finally, after twenty

years I feel like I deserve to be here.”

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.


Publicity contact:

Stephanie Fields / Make It Bigger Mama Publicity / SF, CA / Stephanie@MakeItBiggerMama.com

updated: 1 year ago