Katie Dahl Full Bio
Wisconsin singer-songwriter Katie Dahl has performed her original songs everywhere from the dusty cliff country of Mali, West Africa, to the winding canals of southern France, to the cedar forests of the American northwoods. The depth and power of Katie’s alto voice, the literate candor of her original songs, and the easy humor of her live performances have earned her numerous songwriting awards, as well as the chance to share stages with such luminaries as Dar Williams, Peter Mulvey, Julie Gold, and Cheryl Wheeler. Katie is also a playwright whose musical Victory Farm premiered to high acclaim in 2012 and has since been made into a live cast album. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says Katie combines “old-fashioned populism, an abiding love of the land and wickedly smart love songs, all delivered in a rich and expressive alto.”
Though Katie currently makes her home in rural Door County, Wisconsin, she travels extensively, playing intimate house concerts as well as established venues like Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. Richly steeped in the folk songwriter tradition, Katie navigates the muddy waters between the personal and the public with the skill of a writer twice her age. She is equally comfortable writing about the intricacies of a complicated relationship (without being indulgent or myopic) and taking on the threat of chain restaurants to her own small community (without being polarizing or didactic).
Katie Dahl was a college freshman when she slipped on a patch of sidewalk ice and broke her wrist. Suddenly unable to play the oboe in her college orchestra, Katie used her newfound free time to learn guitar, teaching herself chord shapes as she strummed the strings with her stiff right hand. Nine years later, that icy day has proven to be a blessing in disguise, as Katie has made a career as an accomplished writer and musician whom acclaimed author Parker Palmer has called “a singer-songwriter you need to get to know.”
Katie has two studio albums to her credit, County Line (2009) and Leaky Boats and Paper Birds (2012). Her musical Victory Farm (live cast album released 2012; co-written with James Valcq and Emilie Coulson) is a fictionalized account of the real-life German POWs who came to Wisconsin to pick cherries during World War II.
Wisconsin Public Radio host Stephanie Elkins calls Leaky Boats and Paper Birds “a beautifully crafted album, with poetic lyrics made even more evocative by gorgeous melodies and lovely guitar picking. Katie’s low, rich voice is the real deal — you can feel her love for the land, lakes and people of the Upper Midwest in every song. The production and backing musicians are also top-notch.”
California singer-songwriter Claudia Russell calls Katie “a honey-throated alto thrush and an eagle-eyed songwriter,” while Austin singer-songwriter Karen Mal says, “Katie Dahl is a writer of such depth and laser-sharp perception, you almost expect her to have a thousand shows and a million miles behind her. But then she shows up with a stage demeanor that is so innocent and utterly without guile, you wonder at her maturity.”