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Beyond The Voice: An Interview with Katelyn Read, Local Folk Singer and Musician

By: Danielle Rode

You may know her from the hit show The Voice Season 8, but Katelyn Read is re-introducing herself to the music industry as a successful folk singer right here in Raleigh, NC. Read is talking about her journey as a musician and finding success on her own terms.

How long have you been making music and what has inspired you throughout your career? “I’ve been singing all of my life but I didn’t start pursuing it until a couple of years ago…My husband encouraged me to make a career out of it instead of just a hobby. The act of stepping out and deciding to do something like that is nerve-racking. I’m not really a risk taker so having someone who supports you and tells you should do it gives you the guts to do it and actually try.”

Originally from West Virginia, Read and her family now call Raleigh home and are loving it. Making the move to North Carolina was a decision not only for her family but also for her music career; as a folk/blues artist Read wants to be in a city where she can focus on her family and her growing career at the same time.

What brought you to Raleigh and how has living here changed your music career? “We actually moved here to be a part of a church plan, a group of friends were starting a church down here and we wanted to be a part of that so we decided to make the move…Living in Raleigh has been a huge step in my music career; coming from West Virginia where you don’t have that many opportunities to play…they’re not readily available like they are here in Raleigh… I think it’s a matter of making relationships with people and playing different venues, finding your fans and the people that like your music. Because of The Voice I’ve made friends with artists all over the country. This year I’m working on breaking out of NC, moving other places, and meeting more people.”

Does that mean you’re willing to relocate out of North Carolina to pursue your music? “No. I’d rather travel to perform and keep my family in North Carolina, I really love living here, it’s really family oriented. There’s a lot to do but not too much, it’s like a big small town! Traveling is something we’ve been playing by ear, I’d love it to be something my husband and daughter get to come along for, we’re working it out as it comes.”

Has North Carolina culture influenced your music in any way? Any favorite venues yet? “This is the first time I’ve played in front of larger audiences. I put a band together, I started an album; lots of firsts here in Raleigh! I met my guitarist, David Dollar, he plays guitar and does background vocals and we write together-that’s been a huge leap in the development of my music.

When I played at the Cary Theater with Six String Presents it was seriously one of the best audiences because everyone was just there to listen and it was so great. When you play at bars and lounges you’re kind of just the background music so it’s always nice to play for an audience that is specifically there to listen. Sola Coffee Café is a favorite; people are always very gracious it’s like playing in a family room, which is what I like best.”

Her time spent on The Voice was Read’s first real taste of live performance and an obvious boost for her career, but now that she’s made the switch from Team Christina to Team Raleigh it seems she might be looking in a different direction. As an up and coming folk/blues artist Read has made it clear from her family-first mentality that she’s making an effort to combine both her music and her life as a wife and mother.

How did participating in The Voice affect your outlook on your music career? “I think it was a huge help for my career, before going on The Voice I didn’t like performing. I liked writing and sharing my songs but I would always talk myself out of every show. I really learned to love it and enjoy it; it gave me the sense of something I can really do. When someone else that isn’t related to you recognizes your music as well is a huge confidence booster. So it was a big step for me and gave me the guts to try harder and make myself more vulnerable.”

You’ve talked a lot about your family in past interviews, especially your daughter, how does being a mother and a wife affect the way you approach your music? “It definitely is a lot of what I write about and having children shapes your world view in so many different ways. I think it can make you take things more seriously at times or more lightheartedly, it’s a beautiful thing. I do consider her in a lot of the things I’m doing, children learn more from what they see than what they hear… I want to show her that I work hard and that being told ‘no,’ with the show and pursuing a career, that it doesn’t mean giving up, showing her what it means to not give up and to keep working. She plays a huge role in my life and my music, she’s six years old…it’s actually her first day of first grade today.”

You’re working on a new album, does it have a name yet and what can we expect from your first full-length record? “There’s no name yet but I have twelve songs that I like enough to put on an album. The goal is to get fifteen to twenty that are really good and then whittle it back down to twelve to get only the best for the album. I’m keeping the folk/blues kind of feel, I love blues, I love jazz, and I love folk, so adding those soulful elements into the folk gives it so much more power… Locally I would like to be able to play small venues for people who want to hear my music and long-term I’d like to finish the album and hopefully be considered by national radios, ultimately to jump on an opening act for a bigger artist like James Bay, Amos Lee, or Ray Lamontagne.”

Read has been performing at venues throughout the Triangle since moving to Raleigh almost two years ago. She performed for a full house at the Cary Theater on June 27th as an opener for Jeff Black. For someone who never thought she would like performing Read has a natural stage presence and way with a crowd. She had her audience singing along in no time; she makes you want to be her friend and listen to her stories. You can see her next show in Raleigh August 8th at Sola Coffee Cafe, or visit her website at katelynread.com for more information about her music.

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