Kaia Kater: On the Verge: Six Roots Artists Breaking Out in 2017

On the Verge: Six Roots Artists Breaking Out in 2017

One of the reasons I was an avid reader of the original print edition of ND was to discover new folks of whom I was unaware and who piqued my interest. A couple weeks back I asked some ND contributors who they thought was about to break out, is deserving of wider attention, or has simply been flying too long under the radar. I think you'll find what we came up with rewarding.

Kaia Kater

Kater is the youngest of this group. Of African-Caribbean descent, she grew up in Toronto and is a recent graduate of Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia, where she studied Appalachian music in all its forms and variations. Even before college she was steeped in the tradition due to her family’s deep ties to Canadian folk music. However, she’s not been immune to other influences; some have noted that she has as much in common with Kendrick Lamar as she does Pete Seeger.

Her second album, Nine Pin, was not only warmly received, it was included on some notable best lists for 2016. The album also was honored by her home country, receiving the Canadian Folk Music Award for “Pushing the Boundaries” for its unwavering look at the problems and issues facing minorities.

Among her many appearances last year was AmericanaFest and IBMA. This year, before she heads to the UK for a tour, she’ll play several times at the International Folk Alliance Conference next week, and on the 24th she’ll perform with Dom Flemons and Blind Boy Paxton in Raleigh, North Carolina.

In her review of Nine Pin, ND’s Rachel Cholst described the album as “unlike anything you'll hear this year.” It's what I’ll call primitive avant-garde. Just catch her and call it whatever you want. I think you will be amazed.

photo credits: Kaia Kater, AmericanaFest 2016, by AMOS PERRINE