Music will always change as the years go on, but soul will always have a place in the art form’s fabric. There’s something about a booming voice with exuberant feeling that takes over the senses of the listener. The lyrics most likely have a way of relating to people whether it’s about heartbreak, hard times or just dealing with the struggles of life. Burlington, Vermont artist Kat Wright is the embodiment of that with the way she sings. She’ll be exhibiting these talents when she takes the stage with her band at The Knickerbocker Music Center in Westerly on Saturday.
We had a talk ahead of the show about moving from where she grew up to her current city, the effect that her upbringing has on her music, managing a big band and a new record that’ll be out in 2020.
Rob Duguay: How did you end up moving from your hometown of Rochester, New York to Burlington? Was it because you felt a need to get out or was it out of necessity?
Kat Wright: I was traveling with my childhood best friend, we had a folk duo called Loveful Heights that we started because we grew up loving to sing together. We were looking for an adventure after we finished our undergrad degrees. We would tour all over in a very DIY fashion and one of the places we would go to was Burlington. We just fell in love with the community there. Burlington quickly became one of our favorite places to tour and about eight months after playing our first show there I decided to move there.
RD: What was your musical upbringing like growing up? Did your parents listen to a lot of soul and R&B or did you seek it out yourself?
KW: My parents listened to a ton of music, literally everything from folk, soul, jazz, pop to classic rock. My dad is a huge concert goer and I’ve been going to see live music since I was born. There was always music playing in the house, my dad had a huge CD collection growing up and it was very influential. As soon as I was in my early teens I started going to concerts and festivals on my own. I also grew up in the era of Napster and Limewire where you could download anything for free. I did a ton of that and found a lot of music that way.
RD: Your voice is magnificent with this quality of it being both smooth and powerful. Do you consider singing to come naturally to you and do you make any specific vocal preparations before you perform?
KW: Singing has always come naturally to me. I’m completely untrained, I never studied music or voice, so I am 100 percent self taught. It’s been a long journey to learn how to use and understand my voice, I’m still always learning new things everyday. I’ve learned to be very gentle and careful with my voice when I’m on and off stage these days. Basically my whole life revolves around taking care of my voice. I do vocal warm ups before I perform, they are super important and helpful.
RD: Including yourself, your band is an octet. With this amount of musicians, there’s definitely that old school big band vibe but it can also be tough wrangling that many people together no matter what it is. How crazy does it get planning practices and shows out?
KW: Yes, it’s very challenging to get the big group together but I’m lucky enough to have people who are willing to prioritize our band. Everyone works really hard and makes a lot of sacrifices to make it a sustainable thing. We also have a core within the group that does a lot of the day to day operations to keep things running smooth.
RD: It’s been three years since you put out your last album, “By My Side.” Can we expect something new in the future?
KW: We’ve actually been working with Eric Krasno from Soulive on a new record. It’ll be out next year and we’re really excited about it.