Kathleen Edwards - Biography

By J Poet


Kathleen Edwards came out of nowhere (actually rural Quebec) to become a critical darling of America’s alt.country, folk and singer/songwriter fans. Her debut album, Failer (2002 Socan, 2003 Zoe Rounder), written after a nasty breakup with a lover, did all right in Canada, but wasn’t a major hit. Rounder picked it up for US distribution in 2003, after catching her low key act at SXSW and the album took off, or as much as an alt.country album ever takes off. As she sings her tales of fragile souls being crushed in the day to day grind of modern life, she often sounds as forlorn and beaten down as the people she’s singing about. Failer succeeds with low-key melodies that circulate endlessly in your head, weaving subtle, melancholy spells.


Edwards’ father was in the Foreign Service and she grew up in Seoul (South Korea) and Geneva (Switzerland) going to the international schools set up for diplomat families. Edwards studied violin for many years and was a classical prodigy, but the classical world never appealed to her, although it did keep her away from the fads in pop music, which was a good thing. When she started writing her own songs, she was able to develop her own singular style. In 1997 Edwards attended high school in Canada, and started playing guitar and singing. She sang solo and in bands for several years and started writing. Building 55, a 500 copy demo EP of her tunes that she sold at gigs got decent reviews and she played every Canadian venue that would have her. In 2001 she ended a long time relationship and moved to rural Quebec to write songs. She went into the studio with producer/guitarist Jim Bryson and made Failer (2002 Socan, 2003 Zoe Rounder.) She put the album out on her own tiny logo, but it was picked up by Maple Music, a subsidiary of the Universal Music Group that specializes in home grown Canadian acts. The next stop was Austin’s SXSW conference where her live performance left major labels salivating. She chose Rounder for their dedication to roots music.


Failer was a hit with US audiences and led to a few high profile TV spots in the US, most notably David Letterman’s Late Show. She also landed opening spots on high profile tours with Dylan, AC/DC and The Rolling Stones. She married her band’s lead guitarist Colin Cripps in 2004 and the couple produced her second album Back To Me (2005 Zoe Rounder) with the help of keyboard player Pierre Marchand (Sarah McLachlan.) It’s another collection long on heartache and short on sentimentality, with Edwards’ weary vocals and the subtle backing of her touring band delivering another low-key masterpiece. The album got her Juno (Canadian Grammy) nominations for Songwriter of the Year and Adult Alternative Album of the Year.


She toured heavily throughout the US and Canada to support Back To Me, stopping long enough to contribute vocals to John Doe’s A Year In The Wilderness (2007 Yep Roc.) Asking for Flowers (2005 Zoe Rounder). Made with Whiskeytown producer Jim Scott continues her growth as a tunesmith, lyricist and songwriter, with 11 more heartfelt tunes. It’s more musically diverse than her first albums, and more outward looking, with several protest songs joining her usual tales of heartbreak.




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