I first met Catherine Reed some years back when we did a show together. It is one of my favorites because when I watched it over again, it was obvious that she was interviewing me as much as much as I was interviewing her, turning an interview into an actual conversation, which is so rarely achieved on television. Money spent on her CDs is money well spent.
Catherine Reed: Rising Star
Singer entertains Northwest Arkansas
Catherine Reed has a laugh which can dominate a room. She also has a talent which can completely seduce anyone fortunate enough to be exposed to her singing, whether it be live, a television appearance, or listening to her CD, Can You See It, released earlier this year.
Much of her work seems to arise as a result of her ongoing spiritual quest.
The Texas native has been singing since a child, spending a decade playing and singing backup in country bands, but her first love is acoustic music. Her particular idols have been Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor, though she also has high regard for Joni Mitchell and Tracy Chapman.
As a young girl, she had fantasies of becoming a member of the Carpenters duo.
Though quick to tell you of her musical favorites (particularly James Taylor), she is loathe to single out any musician or genre for criticism. “A true musician looks at everything, and finds something that they can learn from it,” she says. “A musician is constantly a student.”
After learning to play the keyboards, she joined several bands, receiving “on the job training” as she played in small bars and honky-tonks. As much she enjoyed playing with the bands, she felt stifled, almost like a factory worker doing the same work all the time. It was time for the world to meet Catherine Reed, singer and songwriter in her own right.
Guitar in hand, she began playing in restaurants, playing her favorite songs. She has found the response more than gratifying. Even so, she says that insecurity is a continual companion. “The only time I’m not nervous is when I realize I’m not in charge . . . if you are just a vessel, and you are doing it for a good reason, there is much more willingness to relax and enjoy what I’m doing.”
Writing songs since the mid-1970s, some time ago Reed began to look more closely at her efforts. Where she would often just “blurt out songs,” she came to feel she had to take responsibility for her work, saying that she feels she is “about being an example.”
Turning serious, she says, “It slowed my writing down, because all of a sudden I was taking responsibility for my words, and could I honestly live with what I was singing?
“As a writer or performer, there is always a spiritual side to our job.” She notes that much of mainstream society is also actively interested in spiritual matters.
Reed had long wanted to put out an album, but always managed to find an excuse for not going into the recording studio, even after many at her performances would ask her if she had tapes available. Finally, last year she embarked on the nine-month journey that would lead to Can You See It.
With the help of several seasoned producers (Eric Shabacker, Darren Novotny), and accompanied musically by Melody Ackerman she produced her CD, which has been available in several area stores. “I’ve learned that having a CD really aids your career. It is an indicator of accomplishment. Promo packages are great, but manufactured work for distribution or sales leaps over the fence for a lot of folks.
“I absolutely recommend it for those musicians still questioning the expense . . . it is income producing.”
Fayetteville audiences became accustomed to hearing Reed sing during Saturday brunch at Tuesday's Restaurant until it recently closed. Lately, she has appeared at Powerhouse in Fayetteville, and Fat Tuesdays's in Eureka Springs. Audiences have also been treated to another side of Reed's talent; she composed an improvisational instrumental piece for DanScape Movement Theater, which was well received at their dance performances.
Reed has also discovered a change in her own performances of late.
"I feel like I'm ‘showing up’ more in my performances and participating more with the audiences, the more inclusive the better. What's the common thread in the room that we can all be with? Whether you are gay or straight or young or old or male or female . . . I am developing more of that skill an artist ultimately should have, that ability to inspire similarity and oneness, as opposed to separateness and difference."
Reed has a new CD, Denim Angels, coming forth in the spring, and she is excited about it. “I've been taking a poll on what people like and want more of. They definitely want me to do more of ‘Joni Mitchell sounds’ in my material, and more originals, and they want me to play the piano on some songs. . . guess what? They want what I want.”
More audiences in Northwest Arkansas are discovering that the entertainer they want is Catherine Reed.
Ozark Gazette - November 17, 1997