Kathleen Edwards
Kathleen Edwards

Kathleen Edwards

About Kathleen Edwards

Canadian singer and songwriter Kathleen Edwards became a star in the Americana community in the 2000s on the basis of her emotionally incisive songs and sweetly smoky voice. Edwards' lyrics are evocative and direct in their take on relationships and the trials of everyday lives, and her music, which varies from quietly contemplative and keenly boisterous to suit her mood, is an effective match for her material. Edwards' second album, 2005's Back To Me, was a critical success that revealed her talent to listeners outside Canada, and 2012's Voyageur, which followed a relationship from meeting to breakup, was a commercial success as well as a hit with her fans.
Kathleen Edwards was born in Ottawa, Ontario, the daughter of foreign service parents who played piano and guitar in their spare time. At five, she began to study classical violin, which continued through her early teens. At that point, the Edwards family moved overseas. Removed from the influence of mainstream North American pop music, Edwards delved into her older brother's collection of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and early Tom Petty records. After high school, she landed back in Ottawa, where she sang and played her guitar in local clubs while networking with other musicians in the scene.
In 1999, Edwards recorded her debut EP, Building 55, and toured throughout Canada to support it, busking and opening for acts like Hayden and Jane Siberry along the way. A bad breakup led to more songwriting, much of which took place after Edwards moved out of Ottawa and into rural Quebec. Those songs became the basis of Failer, her debut full-length, which she recorded in Ottawa in late 2001. The album was a heartfelt mixture of folk and country, and drew upon influences like Whiskeytown and Gillian Welch. A major critical buzz began to swirl around her music, and gigs at the 2002 South by Southwest festival -- as well as an opening slot for Richard Buckner -- led to a deal with Zoe/Rounder, which released Failer in January 2003. The album garnered rave reviews, and Edwards toured extensively in support, headlining her own club dates and playing arenas in support of Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones.
She headed back into the studio in 2004 to record her second album, with guitarist and bandleader Colin Cripps serving as producer. The final product was Back to Me, which arrived in stores during the spring of 2005 and introduced some pop elements into Edwards' dusty Americana. It was followed in 2008 by Asking for Flowers. It would be four years before her next album, Voyageur, which chronicled a love affair from beginning to end, appeared in 2012.
Produced by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Voyageur became Edwards' biggest commercial success to date, rising to number 39 on the American Album charts, and number two in Canada. However, the stresses of success, a relentless touring schedule, a struggle with clinical depression, and difficult romantic relationships took their toll on Edwards, and in 2014 she retired from music to open a cafe named Quitters Coffee in Stittsville, Ontario. She was content living outside of the spotlight when, in 2018, country star Maren Morris, a fan of her work, contacted her and asked if they could write a song together. Their collaboration, "Good Woman," appeared on Morris' 2019 album Girl, and it inspired Edwards to pick up her guitar and become comfortable with music again. After writing a set of fresh songs, she teamed with producers Ian Fitchuk and Jim Bryson to make an album entirely on her own terms. Her fifth full-length, Total Freedom, was released by Dualtone Records in August 2020. ~ Johnny Loftus

  • HOMETOWN
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • BORN
    1979

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